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What is the Difference Between Success and Happiness?

Difference Between Success and Happiness

Is this person happy, successful or both?

Are we splitting hairs here or is there really a major difference between success and happiness? If we define success as the achievement of a set of goals, we must be able to differentiate between that and what makes a person happy.


“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” ― John Lennon.


First off, as an individual, do you define success as the achievement of all the little goals we set for ourselves daily, or is it when a person achieves a major goal that has taken time to accomplish? In other words, are mowing the lawn or cleaning the house achievements that can be labeled success? Does that in any way measure up to the success of getting a college degree or starting and running a business? I think not.

From this point of view, success is about big accomplishments not the everyday goals that we all achieve on a daily basis. But what, if anything, does this say about happiness? Maybe nothing.

What then does it mean to be happy? Does it have anything to do with success? I think that success can play a part in a person’s state of mind concerning happiness. But it is not the only, and more than likely, not the most important determining factor. Yes, success at work or in an academic setting gives one a sense of satisfaction that truly does, in most cases, contribute to “happiness”.


“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan


If happiness is defined as “overall well-being”, then happiness is an emotional state that can encompass many different feelings. In other words, happiness is an emotion; it’s a feeling that is not dependent only on success.

Is the Difference Between Success and Happiness all About Work?

Certainly, failure at work or school is not a particularly happy event. But does that make a person a failure in life? Is your overall happiness at stake? No, unless you let it! Especially if you understand that it is often the case that a series of failures are often the stepping stones to success. Learning from mistakes is a tried and true method of achieving success.

Is it possible to be performing well in your professional life and still feel like you’re failing at life? What about the opposite? Are there people who are living their lives to the fullest but can’t seem to manage well at a job? Both of these possibilities are real.

Are success and happiness the same thing

Are success and happiness the same thing?

Of course, everyone wants to be successful and happy. But does success lead to happiness or is it the other way around? Or maybe the two concepts are not as connected as we might at first think? Is the difference between success and happiness all in our minds?

Most of us know what it’s like to feel as though we’ve been successful at something. We go out for a job interview and get a call back with an offer. We take a test and score highly. We run a race and beat our personal record. That sense of achievement, that feeling of pride in ourselves — that’s success.


 “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill


Happiness, on the other hand, is about much more. It is how you relate to the world and those around you. It is family and friends. It is the knowledge that even though some parts of your life may not be going exactly as planned or expected; but that is not enough to upset the apple cart of your life in a way that interferes with your overall sense of well-being.

The difference between success and happiness is, in the final analysis, about being a whole person that is not overwhelmed by the ups and downs that we all experience in our daily lives.

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