Ask Matt Karamazov: Which is More Important, Happiness or Success?
Quora is a question-and-answer site where questions are asked, answered, edited, and organized by its community of users. I’m one of them, and my answers have been viewed nearly 300,000 times, as of this writing. On February 22nd, 2018, I answered the question, “Which is More Important, Happiness or Success?”, and here is my answer:
It doesn’t matter (in my opinion), until you understand that happiness and success are both by-products of aiming towards other things.
You can’t “do” anything to become happier, or to become more successful; you just have to put your head down and aim at something that LEADS to one, and hopefully both, of those things.
For one thing, it’s impossible to tell if someone else is successful unless you know what’s important to that person. If someone’s highest value is peace of mind, then they can be successful and no one would have to be the wiser. They could dress in shabby clothes and drive a 20-year-old car and that person would still be successful.
Personally, I believe that you become successful the moment that you adopt a definite chief aim in life, when you decide once and for all that you’re going to aim for the highest good of which you are capable.
There’s no higher calling for a human individual than that.
When you have a meaningful challenge in front of you, that you’ve decided is worth tackling, and you wake up every day with the conviction that you’re going to face it head on, then you’re already successful. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or says.
Now with respect to happiness, a similar idea applies. And again, this is simply my opinion and the fruits of my personal experience.
Actually, I’ll interrupt myself again to say that happiness is just one emotion you can feel. A full life involves feeling a range of emotions and someone who goes around trying to be a happy all the time and banish sadness forever is really only living half of their lives. You should feel the complete range of human emotions instead of cutting yourself off from experience.
ANYWAY, I’ll illustrate my point about happiness with a small story:
A young kitten was chasing his tail around and around when an older cat stopped to ask what the kitten was trying to do. The kitten tells the older cat, “I’ve been told that happiness is located in my tail, so I’m trying to catch it.”
The older cat replies, “Well, I also believe that happiness is located in my tail, but I’ve found that when I go about my day with a definite purpose and courage in my heart, happiness follows me wherever I go.”
All the best,
P.S. Reading books has made me happy AND successful, and I’m currently on my way to reading 1,000 books before I turn 30. Remember, the person who doesn’t read books has no advantage over the person who CAN’T read them.