Do You Want Success or Happiness?

Dec 2, 2020 / By Robert Middleton
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In our culture, it’s common to believe that you must work hard to achieve success and happiness. What if that’s the wrong way to look at it?

We all want success and happiness. And our culture encourages us to search for both. Well, what if it were easier than that? What if you didn’t need to seek for either?

These are some thoughts that just came to me last week and I wrote them down. I wasn’t sure if I’d share this with anyone…but hey, why not?

Do you want success or happiness?

Being successful means getting what you want.
Being happy means wanting what you get.

Which is preferable and which is possible?

Wanting what you want is normal, natural.
Wants arise based on a multitude of things.
And wants then turn into intentions that put a process into motion.

Sometimes that process leads to the results you envisioned.
Sometimes it doesn’t. Ultimately, you don’t have control
Over the results or outcomes you get.

With repetition, practice, failures and small successes
You will tend to realize larger successes.
Success takes work and it takes time.

Being happy is quite a different game.
It is simply wanting what you get, realizing
You don’t have ultimate control over what you get.

So, a want arises and you set an intention
And you go to work in the direction of your goal.

The chances are good you won’t hit your goal the first time.
This is not a problem; it’s the way things work.

The first time a baby tries to walk they don’t succeed.
In fact, they fall down over and over and over.
But this is not a problem for the baby.
This is how learning to walk works.

So, they make another attempt…and another.
And they will usually get encouragement from their parents.

And before too long, they are standing and walking
And then running, skipping, and jumping.

They are experiencing both success and happiness.
They are getting what they want and wanting what they get.

But as life goes on, things get harder, more complex.
Success becomes more elusive.
Failures are more frequent.

This is not a problem unless the failures are seen as a problem.

“I’m not getting what I want. That’s a problem.”
Therefore, I’m unhappy, I’m miserable.
“I’m not OK that I’m not as successful as I think I should be.”

But, for some reason, you made up that failure is a problem.
Perhaps you learned this from someone else:
“You must succeed at this or you are not OK.”

This isn’t inherently true, but if you believe it
You will suffer and feel bad about your failure.

But you can see your failure differently.
When you fail, you learn. You learn what doesn’t work.
What a wonderful thing to learn!

Sure, you want to succeed. You want to get what you want.
But failing to get what you want is clearly
Part of getting what you want.

So, whatever it is you get, it is also what you want.

And your goal shifts from getting rewards
To growing…by going for what you want.
The rewards still come, but you are happy in the process.

When you want what you get
You also tend to get more of what you want.
But it’s OK when you don’t get it.
You just try something else.

This is a natural process. It doesn’t take any effort.
It doesn’t mean anything if you succeed or fail.
What’s true is that you always get exactly what you get.

So, what do you want? Success or happiness?
Have both. Experience both.
They are ultimately the same thing.

Robert Middleton is owner of Action Plan Marketing, a consulting firm that helps independent professionals improve their marketing and attract more clients. Visit for his Marketing Plan Workbook and More.


Excellent article. Thanks for sharing your insight. Celebrate the day, look for the good, and when bad things happen decide what you can do to make them better. Living in the solution, instead of the problem , makes for a much more fulfilling life!!

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