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Success Versus Happiness -- Why Success Can Outweigh Happiness

Updated: Feb 14

The young man puts on a comical mask and sits down.

(For the directory on success, click here)

Note: The following is a speech made voluntarily by request. Since it appears to be a topic for debate in some educational institutions worldwide, feel free to use this article for that end, as long as you credit me, Mr. Tomasio Rubinshtein. Without further interruption -- enjoy.


When it comes to our ambitions, they could in theory be summarized as the pursuit of two things: either success, happiness, or both. However, since the realization of our ambitions is hidden in uncertainty, we might not always get what we desire in life, no matter how much effort we put into our activities. Furthermore, we might get what we want, and still be unsatisfied. Thus, there is no necessary correlation between happiness and the ambition to succeed/success itself.

Even though happiness is easier to understand than success, as success is more abstract than concrete, the logical desire whenever we pursue a goal is not necessarily to be happy, but to actually achieve it. Happiness can come either way, whether we achieve our ambitions or not; it's not like we can't ever be happy again should we fail. Unless, of course, you're extremely desperate. But I digress.

Life is limited both by duration and by resources. As long as we are not depressed, we can technically teach ourselves to develop a positive mindset that's strong enough to make us feel happy. We can also invest time and money in entertainment in order to feel happy. However, since our goals do not necessarily require happiness, we do not necessarily have to be happy in the process of success or when we are "successful".

There's no clear, general definition for success, other than actually achieving a goal or conquering a challenge. Therefore, it's arguable that without a goal to be achieved, success is technically impossible.

Goals are influenced by many things, mostly by our own desires and by what others expect of us. They can further develop both ourselves and others, from friends and family to people who live in developing countries. Unlike happiness, a goal can have a far, greater impact on reality, even if that impact isn't necessarily revolutionary.

By itself, happiness is little more than a good feeling, a sense of fine well-being that does not necessarily extend beyond a single individual's mind and heart. On the other hand, when goals involve others, they can be far more wide-ranging and influential, assisting not only ourselves but also others, including people who live throughout the world in nations we may never visit.

The ambition of a single heart can spark the candles of a thousand souls. And in today's digital era, that is an understatement.

Thus, I believe that success, or the accomplishment of an ambition, can be much more helpful than a mere emotion, which one can simply feel in leisure, when hanging out, and so on. An emotion that goes not utilized for others is an emotion that won't necessarily further ourselves in life. If we sit idly and sink in leisure, we might not contribute much, not to ourselves and not to the world at large. Why then, sink to the temptation to treat time as something to be killed off?

Should we strive to be more successful, even if it means that we will be less happy, our contribution to humanity can be far more significant than otherwise. In addition, depending on the goal at hand, that significance has the power to outlive even our current lifespan and contribute to additional generations of beings who have yet to even be born. In the form of multi-generational legacies. In the form of successors that will carry the mantle of preserving said legacy, and use it to help others, even long after we're gone.

Goals take sacrifice. Goals take dedication, grant experience, and build character. Sometimes it's at the cost of happiness, whether partially or entirely, along other things. I think that if a goal is worthy enough, then it's also worthy to sacrifice our own good feelings, even if it's just for a little while. After success is achieved, we can always try and work to nurture our happiness, either way.

But I would also add that happiness can come from the process of pursuing our goals, even if we don't achieve them in the end. That's because we can still contribute even if we fail in our overall goal. For instance, the achievements that we made along the way can be enough to contribute to at least some people, even if the end goal of a plan has not been met. Therefore, success and failure isn't necessarily a black-or-white situation.

And, when we are working towards something that we are passionate about, it can give us a sense of purpose and meaning in life. It can also help us to grow and learn, develop our skills further and so on. Please note that self-improvement is an important achievement in and of itself.

And when our goals involve helping others, they can be even more rewarding. When we use our talents and abilities to make a difference in the world, it can bring us a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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