Success is the Opposite of Happiness

STUFF is the make up and bandaids of happiness. – Gary Vee

Seems to be a general consensus that getting stuff and acquiring things isn’t going to make you happy.

I’m gonna go one step further and say – SUCCESS will not make you happy.

Success, in fact, is the antithesis – the complete opposite of happiness.

“…Wait, what did you say?” I hear you ask.

Think about it. How many people are filty rich but unhappy? Successful beyond comprehension, but miserable inside? You can probably think of at least one example.

Clearly then, success by itself does not make you happy. Happiness must comes from somewhere else.

What do I mean by happiness? Fulfillment. Peace. Calm. Balance. A neutral complete satisfaction. Happiness is when you can sit alone in a quiet dark room and not feel like you need to get out. The state of being where nothing could ever disturb you.

We are happy when we are content with nothing. It is your natural state. You need nothing to fulfill you.

We are so far removed from this idea of simply being, that even my describing it is making you scratch your head in bewilderment. “What the hell is Jay even talking about? This happiness thing sounds incredibly boring, why would you even want that?”

That’s fine. Just humor me for a moment. Now, let’s look at what “success” is.

To be successful, you need to get money, get an education, get a family, get busy, get ahead. Oh and keep struggling. That’s a big one – you should ALWAYS keep struggling. Success can never come easily, you MUST struggle to get ahead.

Success is a series of exciting peaks and gut wrenching lows. It keeps you trapped like a mouse in a running wheel chasing a piece of cheese. Convinced by your ego that external things will make you happy, you go from one source of stimulation to the next.

Never truly satisfied.

Success leaves you feeling hollow. Empty. Always longing for something new. A new stimulus, a new way to get excited. Not unlike an addiction.

Success is manipulating reality to conform to your needs.

Happiness is surrendering to reality. 

What’s Wrong With Being Successful?

You’ve been told your whole life that you must succeed. You’re taught to strive for success from the moment you enter the real world. You’re taught that happiness and good things come for those who succeed in life. Media and society tout successful people as the heroes and luminaries of our time.

But they got it wrong. Success has nothing to do with happiness.

Let’s imagine a scenario for a moment.

You’ve made it. Forbes covers, billionaire list. Whatever incredible success means to you, you’re there.

You’ve set up a number of profitable businesses that largely run without your help. If there was an infinite amount of funds, you’re effectively at that point.

Your mind is a neverending explosion of ideas. An ideafactory that will not shut down. When you’re done with business, you turn to philantropy. Schools. Hospitals. Energy.

As long as it’s helpful, you think. As long as someone’s life improves. Seeing others in distress makes you work even harder to get there. 

People start regarding you as some sort of superhero. 

Life is PERFECT, right?

As long as you have new challenges to overcome. New successes to keep you excited and stimulated, you feel great. Adventurous.

… but you can’t shut off your brain.

However brilliant your mind is, it will never shut up. The ideas will keep coming. You can keep working and keeping yourself busy to drown out the deafening noise, but it will never stop.

Sure you spend some free time with your friends. Golf and jogging and maybe a beer night now and then. Maybe even take the new car for a spin.

But eventually you run out of things to do. Out of stimulants. And then, when it all quiets down, you face yourself.

… You face the loneliness.

When you’re lying there in your bed, you feel empty. Hollow. Sad. 

The person sleeping beside you might as well be a million miles away for the cold you feel.

Happiness? You’d give everything for just a moment of serene, genuine happiness. A moment of calm.

You might say this is an extreme example. Fine. Let’s tone it down a bit. What’s your definition of success?

  • You want a raise so that becomes your life purpose. What happens when you get the raise? You’re successful. Will you look for another raise? When will it end?
  • You want more money? Great. What happens when you get it? More money? How much money is enough?
  • You want the perfect wife/husband so you’re always looking for better options. Great. And when you get it, will you then be happy?

Whatever your motivator to push on to succeed – if it is external, then it will run out.

And when it does, you must face the silence and yourself.

What will you feel? Guilt? Shame? Loneliness? Fear?

Make no mistake. You can not keep stimulating yourself forever to drown out the noise.

Material values have no ability, no POSSIBILITY to provide us inner peace. Only a compassionate mind, your OWN mind, is the key to reduce anxiety – Dalai Lama

That’s why forcing reality to conform to your needs is a short term solution. That’s why chasing success is a fool’s errand.

Internal peace and calm can only be found by surrendering to reality. That, my friends, is HAPPINESS.

How to Create From Happiness

Wow, success sounds a bit shit, right. So what can we do? What if you wanted to be successful and create awesome things and become something huge?

Let me just say that there’s nothing wrong with creating things, building businesses, and a legacy for yourself. Some successful people do massively good work to help the world and I commend them! That’s amazing.

You can do it too. But instead of chasing success, I suggest finding your happiness first. Then create from a place of love. That’s the beauty of not chasing success: you create from an infinite fuel source.

Sounds a bit woowoo, so let’s break it down. I like to be practical, after all.

What do you want? No, really. What do YOU really want in your life? Take a moment to think about that.

Based on Maslov’s hierarchy of needs, I would expect it’s something along the lines of:

  • Security
  • Companionship
  • Ways to express yourself

Traditionally, a successful person would achieve these through external means, like a big home, a community and expensive toys. The bigger the Mercedes, the more successful you are, right?

Instead, we’ll look for answers from within you.

First, you must learn to accept and forgive yourself for your mistakes and imperfections. That will prepare you to more readily accept others with their differences and imperfections.

This will lead to connection. With yourself and others.

As humans, we thrive on connection and empathy. We’re wired that way. True connection, and I mean deep, authentic, genuine open-hearted understanding is the best way to build trust. And building trust is the best way to get rid of fear.

Once you realize you can trust complete strangers, the world no longer seems like such a hostile place. (Security)

You start building true connections with people and learning who you are and who you want around you. The more you get to know yourself and others, the more you’ll get an idea who your tribe is. The people you align with and resonate with on a deep level. (Companionship)

When humans are connected in this way, we feel warmth and fulfillment. We feel heard. We feel safe. When you trust someone implicitly, when you’re pushing through a challenge together, you feel camaradery. There is no room for fear.

You create and express yourself in any way you please because fear does not stop you, and you have your tribe supporting your every step. (Expression)

And that’s how you create using the Power of Love.

(yes, I love BTTF.)

Remember the billionaire from earlier? Imagine he is slowly finding his internal happiness. Instead of acting from fear, loneliness and lack, he acts from the deep peace within his mind. He loves and is loved.

His goals become clearer because his mind isn’t clouded with noise. It’s easier for him to focus and find the next step. He seems to find more joy in his work.

He doesn’t get irritated with people, leading to easier communication. People take him more seriously because of a more balanced presence.

This may as well be you. Become the billionaire fulfilled with peace.

And here’s the real doozy: When you start creating from a place of happiness, you will reach your goals easier, almost without effort.

Your Next Step

Are you stuck in a success-cycle? Do you feel like the only motivator for you is to find the next emotional peak, some stimulus to keep you going?

Do you feel hollow and lonely when it all gets dark and silent?

Would you like some help with that?

We should talk.


Jay Pitkänen

Head coach at Rat Race Maverick, and moonlight marketer. Connoisseur of Cabernet Sauvignon. Spot him driving a Jaguar or Corvette at high speeds over long distances.

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