A Coaching Power Tool Created by Sandipa Thapa Basnyat
(Career Coach, NEPAL)
Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get – W.P. Kinsella
Happiness is defined as
A: a state of well-being and contentment: joy
B: a pleasurable or satisfying experience
It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness. Charles Spurgeon
Happiness is the result of what we do every day and enjoying every tiny bit of it. It is the state of well-being and contentment, rather than chasing big lofty dreams and ignoring one’s state of mind.
Being happy is a choice and not a result or reward.
As happiness is a state, those who tend to be happy have been more successful, have better health, are more productive and have better lasting relationships both at a personal and professional level. Thus it can be said being happy makes every aspect of life better.
Success is defined as:
Is a: degree or measure of succeeding
B: favorable or desired outcome; also: the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence
As per the definition of success above, most of us want to be successful, attain wealth through our work, get notoriety for our accomplishments, and be well respected in the community and now even the globally. These are very admirable qualities and everyone should strive to attain these goals, but only those who put in the hard work and dedication can actually achieve them. But success does not only mean being in the “Forbes” list, success can be attain at any level as long as one sets a challenging goal and puts in the work and dedication to achieving it. So another way of describing success can be the attainment of personal goals.
People believe that success in life, be it “Forbes” list or CEO of local chain of grocery stores, will lead to the happiness.
We tend then to put material externalities such as – a glittering career, big salary, beautiful house, expensive car etc. as a measure of happiness, thinking if we just work hard enough, put in enough time and dedication then we will achieve these markers and then be “happy”. But in reality once we get that promotion we were working for or buy that first BMW, our immediate thoughts are not – “Wow, I did it and let me enjoy this moment” it’s rather; “ I need to now be the director or I now need a Maserati”. Thus these materialized indicators of happiness are not for happiness they are for goal achievements only.
Thus leading us to debunk the theory – Success leads to Happiness
So let’s go back to the basic definitions – Success is to attain or get your goal while Happiness is a state or journey towards a goal. For example, in buying a car the excitement and the pleasure of driving up to the dealership to buy the car is the happiness and buying the car itself is the success. But if you scratch your car while pulling out of the dealer’s lot, you may lose that happiness right then or you can shrug it off and retain your happiness by enjoying the moment of driving such a great machine. Either way, it goes to show happiness is fluid unlike success which is solid.
The human endeavor to have more leads us to the pursuit to satisfy our thirst of success, getting one better than the next, in this pursuit we neglect many small things which lead to happiness and better life. We forgo a small opportunity to be happy now with the belief that it will be abundant when we reach the next big goal.But happiness never seems to be reachable as the next big goal is always in the horizon. As we move from one big thing to the next to achieve what we deem as happiness, We never quench our thirst but go on and on until we realize, the little things/the journey and the moments there in was the source of happiness and not the goal itself.
As a saying goes, success always comes with a price. We are not content with what we have but chase for what we think we need which is always bigger and better and harder to attain, thus spending more time and effort to achieve it. Thus it’s a general perception that success comes with baggage of the past which is guilt, hurt, unlived moments and bad emotional and physical state.
Many research studies have been showing that the more important relationship between success and happiness may be “SUCCESS DOESN’T LEAD TO HAPPINESS. HAPPINESS LEADS TO SUCCESS.”
Happiness can make you successful but success cannot guarantee happiness.
A generalized case of chasing success can be seen below:
A young ambitious man in his early 30’s wanted to be successful and happy in life. He wanted to have everything for his wife and two kids so he started putting all his energy towards his work to single-mindedly pursue a promotion and a raise, which would lead to happiness for him and his family.
For his kids’ he was not present for their school programs, and their sports activities were never a priority, as he felt it would be more productive for him to be at work. When it came to his wife, he believed they had a good division of labor, he at work bringing in success and she taking care of the home and the kids enjoying and basking in the success and happiness. What he did not realize, was his neglect of his family was creating stress within the family, even his wife’s insistence on spending time with the kids and her fell on deaf ears as he believed once he reached his goal everything would be fine.
As the years passed the man put more time into his work leading to one promotion after the another, success at every footstep of this work and then many years later he felt this work done and satisfied he retired to enjoy his well-deserved success. That is when he realized, he was living in a house with complete strangers, he had no connection with his kids who were grown up by then, his dedicated and devoted wife was not the woman he married as she too had change during the years he was busy attaining success. He had been able to afford his family with everything they wanted, house, cars money etc, and the irony was all these measures of success lead him to more misery than happiness. His house which had 15 bedrooms, meant he was alone all the time as everyone elsewhere away from him, 5 shiny cars made it easier for his family to get away from him, huge bank account for the family to take their friends on lavish vacation without him
The above case may have over stated the events, but this is a story which resonates with many people in today’s corporate world who have the belief – “My ultimate success will lead to ultimate happiness for me and everyone around me.”
The moral of the story quite obviously is Success does not always lead to happiness, but Happiness will lead to Success.
The diagram below depicts the saying:
In the above diagram, we see that happiness leads to success but success does not lead to happiness. Success and Happiness are a result of what we do every day, it is about how we create daily habits where we are successful and happy today rather than waiting for some future accomplishment that may or may not materialize.
Combining Happiness to Success
Buddhist monk, author of ‘The Happiest Person in the World’ and former molecular biologist, Matthieu Ricard, in a Huffington Post article entitled “Why Happiness is Not Pleasure”,said this of happiness:
Happiness is a state of inner fulfillment, not the gratification of inexhaustible desires for outward things…genuine happiness may be influenced by circumstance, but it isn’t dependent on it. It actually gives us the inner resources to deal better with those circumstances. In simple words it is pleasure is externally motivated and fleeting, while happiness is internally generated and constant.
Thus the first step of moving towards sustained happiness is distinguishing between pleasure and happiness. For example, when we see a well presented and prepared cheesecake, our mouth waters and we crave it. The first couple of bites you with delight and the urge to have more, but as you keep on eating this scrumptious cake the delight slowly turnsdismay of having to eat the whole cheese cake. Hence, the few bites were pleasure but it only lasted for about couple of bites then went away. If the same level of delight had been maintained in eating that whole cake and the next then it would be happiness.That is what we need to attain, to keep on eating one cake after the other still enjoy every bit of it.
In other words; experiences- it is the internal state rather than external object. Happiness is led by behaviors and actions like generosity, kindness, love, gratitude, etc. The more we live in these behavioral states, the more we associate these emotions, the happier we become.
Happiness is the natural result of being present in each moment with love and kindness toward oneself and others, rather than being attached to outcomes and results. Happiness is choosing to be a better human being and refraining from being judgmental. Being non-judgmental but more accepting leads to positive relationships, this leads to better friendship and family relationships. So loving us and others, results in happiness that are the outcome of operating from the spiritual values of caring, compassion and kindness.
Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude. Denis Waitley
We need to realize what truly makes us happy and incorporate this to our daily habits, success is not a bad thing, as seen from the diagram and it is clear that success will not lead to happiness but happiness leads to success. Once we are clear with the definition then we can focus our priorities and make a plan to implement it. Thus we need to guide one to be happy and then enjoy success as it comes our way.
Most clients who come to a coach want to be successful, they generally have a sense as to what they want to accomplish or attain and more or less what success means to them. But many of them fall in the same trap as described about; they feel success will lead to some level of happiness. They don’t really have a clue that they have the formula backwards, and its actually knowing what makes them happy which leads to success.
So as coaches we have to help the clients to reframe their hypothesis -that happiness is the perspective of looking internally and not momentarily pleasure of just attaining a goal. While listening to clients, ask them to identify the baggage/regrets s/he is carrying and ask if given the opportunity how s/he could have done things differently and would it change the outcome.
As ICA always emphasis as coaches we need believe that the client is the expert in his or her life. By providing a trusting space and really listening, we can free clients to explore the many perspectives that can inform them in experience life in many ways.
We can help them to reframe their perspective about happiness by making them do the exercise of ” Wheel of Life” and ask them to rate their present state of happiness (on a scale of 1 to 10 where ten being the most happiest state) for different areas of their lives such as family, health, career, money, friendship, self esteem.Once the client provides his/her self-rating then ask the client to re–rate the same fields it in the terms as where they want the scale to be in order to feel happier. Doing this exercise will show the client how s/he is content with the different areas of life and if not what changes s/he wants to make in order to achieve their optimum level.
As coaches, we often need to ask the client “Is the thing I want leading to happiness or just momentarily pleasure?” When we are able to distinguish the difference between the two, we can be more focused and work toward our goal knowing the consequences. We can do the following to practice these habits on daily basis so we are at peace with ourselves.
- Happiness Journal – Keep a journal and reflect on the day and track how many times we have been happy and how many times we felt accomplished? Compare these moments and figure out what is making us still happy even when moment is gone.
- Cultivate the habit of being aware of the goal you are setting and try to identify the pros and cons of it.
- Make list of things in life that you are grateful for and would not want to trade it for anything e.g. parents, kids, family, health.
- What needs to happen for you to reach your goal?
- What is stopping you from achieving it?
- How can you eat and elephant in bite size by minor changes you want to commit on being happy or spending time with things or people they like?
- What are the small steps you can increase happiness or make change in the present schedule to support it?
- Make a wish list of few things, you wish to can make time for or schedule? What resources might be needed to do it?
http://www.actionforhappiness.org/ www.twitter.com/leadfearlessly- Laura uckabee-Jennings
Masterful Coaching | Robert Hargrove