Success vs. Happiness

Pairs Well With… “My life is my journey” – Gandhi

Success can mean a million things depending upon who you are, what you value and what part of the globe you live in.  Each of us defines success differently, as we should.  Success is personal and can be a result of our finest passions.  We are judged by others, benchmarked, on what our successes look like, regardless of what makes us happy.  Isn’t personal happiness what should matter most?

My view of life today is much less superficial than in my 20’s.  There are no longer blinders on, and the moves I make today are filled with purpose and meaning for no one more than myself. Who was I trying to impress all those years with my “roster of fanciness?”  I began building my pint-sized empire at an early age until one day I started questioning why.  Was it to have four pages of great accomplishments to draw from for a show stopping resume?  To impress Mr. Future Husband?  Or did I carry some unconscious pressure to be the best?  I was achieving things I didn’t care about, and more so, didn’t want.  I wasn’t doing my life for me.

I wanted to make changes in a direction that better suited and fulfilled me, but what were those changes?  How can you move towards an undefined direction?  Life was flourishing for me, but I wanted more.  So much more.  Then…

(Insert light bulb moment here)

I recalled one of the better pieces of advice I’d been given: “I’m not going to tell you how to live your life, and I know “the next thing” motivates you, but if you’re trying to achieve all the time, you can’t enjoy at the same time.”  Point taken.  No more mindlessly attending to pieces of my life as a checklist, so that I could have something to cross off.  All of it should excite me and make me tick.  I learned it is okay to “just be” and be happy at the same time, even without an undefined next step.

Once I took a moment and freed up time to understand what I gravitated towards, I began to feel energized and re-inspired.  I picked up writing again after many years, and soon after that, formed Pairs Well With…  Once I stopped chasing success and started chasing happiness, that is when great things began to happen again.  I was on the right path.

Finding passion and excitement in all that we do is critical.  Think about how many days in a year we go about our lives unengaged and uninspired.  More than is necessary and, frankly, unhealthy.

To me, success is how much impact you can make in other people’s lives, how many risks you take to chase dreams, and how many lessons you learn because you’re challenging yourself in new ways. Today, I’m on a fantastic, focused and determined path – one that makes me happy.

Once you discover what makes you happy, that’s the biggest form of success.  Life is as simple as that.

Since I originally published this post, I quit my job, followed my heart, and embarked on a global travel journey where I sometimes fish for food by hand and eat weird critters in new countries. 

15 Responses to “Success vs. Happiness”

  1. cracTpot

    Some days success is defined as binge watching an entire season of Scandal. Some days it’s checking off my entire ‘to do’ list and half of my husband’s while making my children giggle as a roast beef dinner cooks in the oven. Battling with anxiety and depression has taught me to grab a hold of joy whenever I happen to find it…now I just worry that I’m raising three little hedonists 😉

  2. Dawn Marie

    Life is a wonderful balancing act…that is in constant need of re-evaluation to make certain we are not tipping the scales!! Blessings in your efforts to balance life out!

  3. Dawn

    I must say that this is so spot on and applicable to anyone of us in life. I know back 5 years ago when I had my baby and stayed in more and said no to more and more things, that I had to re-evaluate. At first it was really hard for me to miss out and I didnt want to lose touch with my friends that didnt have kids, but then had a come to jesus with myself that it was ok. And it was ok because it made me happy to stay in and spend more time with my new little family, while still going out on occasion and keeping my friendships alive.
    This was amazing and something everyone should read! #taketimetosmelltheroses

    • Carin Nicole

      Dawn, I’m so glad you enjoyed this piece. Like you, finding balance, and implementing action against what is important can be challenging. SO glad to hear you are able to enjoy your family and friends these days.

  4. Katie Turner

    This just elevated me about 8 notches! Thanks, friend! We do get stuck in our own heads and own tiny worlds and get bogged down by what we are “supposed” to be doing, not always what makes us happy. I know for me, transitioning from ‘the world is my oyster twenties’ to ‘wow shit is getting kind of real now thirties’ was really hard and everyone else was making it look easy so I especially related to this and maybe it’s because I wasn’t quite sure where my journey was taking me either. So thank you for sharing because I don’t think this is a topic that often gets discussed even though we all secretly go through it. #Inspired.

    • Carin Nicole

      You’re welcome. I’m glad I elevated your morning! I also agree that this topic isn’t talked about, or pushed, enough. The bottom line is, it’s normal and okay. The hardest part is changing mindset!


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