Thursday, June 07, 2007

“Success” and/versus “Happiness”

Earlier this week during a wonderful telephone conversation with Tony, my younger daughter’s fiancé, we drifted into a discussion about “success” and “happiness.” During our conversation, I said, “The size of ones house and the price of ones toys is an indication of success but do not necessarily guarantee happiness.”

Later that day, I found some interesting and enlightening quotes regarding these two phenomena – some serious and some humorous. Here are a few examples:


Albert Schweitzer:
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.

Bruce Feirstein:
The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success.

Oliver Wendell Holmes:
Greatness is not in where we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it -- but sail we must and not drift, nor lie at anchor.


Albert Camus:
You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.

Albert Schweitzer:
Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.

George Burns:
Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.

Possibly with Father’s Day being a week from Sunday, I also harkened back to something my father said to me years ago regarding success and happiness. Below is the story of that happening – it is from my latest pop-psych book, Mom and Dad’s Pearls of Wisdom… You Gotta Love ’Em:



In the spring of 1969, I was really hoping to be accepted into the doctoral program in counseling psychology at the University of Georgia. I had a master’s degree from New York University and a very rewarding job as a rehabilitation counselor for young adults with mental retardation. I knew what getting my Ph.D. degree would mean professionally, but hey—another college, another mountain to climb…what the hell.

“How’s the application process coming along?” my dad asked me one day. “Have you heard anything from the university yet?”

“Not yet, Dad. It may be another week before I hear anything.”

“Well, I know how important it would be for your career, and I want it to work out for you. The only thing I really hope for, though, is that you’re happy.”

“Hey, with a Ph.D., who wouldn’t be?”

Wryly, my dad responded,

Success is getting what you want;

happiness is wanting what you’ve got.


Question: Have you ever confused “success” with “happiness”?



Anonymous said...

I find that the only time I get the two confused is when I wrongly (for myself) define the term success. If I focus too much on the tangible things that people often use as perceptions of success, I tend to become less happy. There is a poem that brings me back to reality when needed. Perhaps you have read it?

That Man is a Success

Who has lived well
laughed often and loved much;
Who has gained the respect
of intelligent men
and the love of children;

Who has filled his niche
and accomplished his task;

Who leaves the world better
than he found it,
whether by an improved poppy
or a perfect poem
or a rescued soul;

Who never lacked appreciation
of earth's beauty
or failed to express it;

Who looked for the best in others
and gave the best he had.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello Macanole,
As usual, you offer excellent thoughts and considerations! How we define the phenomena in our lives, indeed, is a significant aspect of the impact of the phenomena – an excellent point… thank you!
Ironically, I was given a plaque a number of years ago when I left Florida State University to take a new position at the University of Kentucky – the back was signed by many people with whom I had worked; on the front was the poem you have shared with us. Beautiful isn’t it! I display it in my house… not only as a reminder of my friends and colleagues, but as a reminder of the wisdom within it.
Thanks again so much!

Anonymous said...

I would be pleased to be successfully happy or happily successful! Some great quotes!

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hi Nienke,
Thanks for your gracious comment! And speaking of quotes, I love yours: "successfully happy or happily successful" -- I don't know if there's any difference -- I'll take either one!
Thanks again, Nienke... I always appreciate your visits,