The Astonishing Lack of Correlation Between Success And Happiness

The lies we’ve all bought into

Just have a drink and you'll feel better

Just take her home and you'll feel better

Keep telling me that it gets better

Does it ever?

Help me, it's like the walls are caving in

Sometimes I feel like giving up

No medicine is strong enough

— Shawn Mendes, in his song, 'In my blood'

Haven't we all been fed these lies before in some way, shape or form?

Either by the society, the people we trust and even occasionally our own misinformed worldview.

Get into this university and you'll be okay

Pass this exam, and your life will be sorted

Get this job and you'll be free

Settle into a relationship and you'll be happy

And yet, every time you feel like you've caught the tail of the happiness bunny, poof! It's gone.

That's funny, it was here just a second ago.

So you try harder, double down and keep chasing.

Pretty soon, everyone loves your life or the façade of your life and here you are, all alone and not quite sure what went wrong.

The minor emptiness and annoyance turns from a quiet buzz to a roaring chainsaw. It's everywhere.

Why does no one ever think of warning us that success / achievement / affluence in itself won't lead to lasting happiness?

Why does someone who seems to have it all abandon everything?

I think it's because the equation is wrong.

What if you didn't need to achieve anything in the worldly sense to be happy?

That's just not good for the economy.

As Matt Haig, eloquently puts it, "Happiness isn’t very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more? How do you sell an anti-ageing moisturiser?

You make someone worry about ageing. How do you get people to vote for a political party?

You make them worry about immigration. How do you get them to buy insurance? By making them worry about everything.

How do you get them to have plastic surgery? By highlighting their physical flaws.

How do you get them to watch a TV show? By making them worry about missing out.

How do you get them to buy a new smartphone? By making them feel like they are being left behind.

To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act.

To be happy with your own non-upgraded existence. To be comfortable with our messy, human selves, would not be good for business."

And then you top it up with a billion dollar self improvement industry that's designed to help you manage these feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness.

They teach you how to be 10x productive, to aspire to bigger, better goals and to keep hustling.

And yet, too few people ever ask us to aspire to happiness.

I have yet to find a course about how to be okay with shitty days.

No seminars on the benefits of spending a few hours where no one makes any demands of you and you don't feel guilty about it.

No lectures about the simple concept of being happy and fulfilled while working towards success.

There's no 5 step hack to open up to people and tell the truth about how you're really feeling.

No, we're all hell bent on perpetuating a narrative of perfection.

Shiny outside, hollow inside.

And trying to see through it becomes a revolutionary thing to do.

I'd say being revolutionary to save your own life and in the interest of your own well being is well worth doing.

Look after yourself, cut out what doesn't serve you, and get the help you deserve.

Don’t become another statistic — remember, 'happiness' is a feeling, not a hashtag.

Author of 'How to be a Lighthouse'. I write for those pursuing excellence and meaning.