Does Success Make Us Happy?
Most of us think that success is will lead to happiness. We work hard to be successful so that we can be happy because of that achievement. Science says, “Eh. Works a little. Not terribly well.” That’s surprising to a lot of people. Why wouldn’t that work well? To work hard to be successful and then become happy because you’re successful?
Well, long scientific story short, we adapt to almost everything in our lives, all the circumstances of our lives. When you first get to that next rung of success, you’re thrilled. Right? You got the promotion. You got the pay raise. You got the job, whatever it is. You’re thinking, “Yes!”
But see what happens in under a month? Do you even know what your salary is right now? Do you really feel the difference between your last job and your current job? Science says for most of us, most of the time, we’re adapting to everything in our lives. Our circumstances, including our success, just don’t have that much to do with our happiness.
It’s counterintuitive. But too many people end up like an executive coaching client of mine. A wildly successful, Indy Game Developer, who basically came to me and said, “Scott, I’ve got success beyond my wildest dreams. I’ve got a hit game. I’ve got money. I’ve got success, and I’m not happy. Can you help me?”
My answer was, “Sure, I’d be honored and delighted to help.” But too often, it works out that way for people. We chase success thinking it’s gonna bring us happiness. Even when we get the success, we find we aren’t happy.
Pursue Happiness For Success
Science suggests for most of us, most of the time, it works better the other way around. If you’d like to be successful and happy, work on happiness first because happiness brings prime brain real estate online. You do better work because you’re happier. Pursuing happiness first can bring you success because your brain fundamentally works better, in most situations, in a good mood compared to a bad mood.
So pursue happiness in order to be successful and you’re more likely to succeed, according to science, than if you pursue success in order to be happy.