Without going away from people’s lives and their true reality, we all realise that every person desires two things from their jobs and professions: to be successful in their work and to find happiness afterwards.
In other words, everyone would like to enjoy their work as much as possible and become happier as a person as a result. These are undoubtedly reasonable goals, but there can be a lot of questions to ask! Lots of people, especially hard-working people, simplify it logically: they first seek success and then assume that success will lead to happiness... isn’t it?
I now see that this logic is wrong. The pursuit of success – if I may say so – has costs that can ultimately reduce happiness, as we’ve heard from some lonely, persistent workaholics.
Of course, this does not mean that you have to choose between success and happiness. You can have both. But I think you have to reverse the order of operations: Instead of trying to achieve success first and hoping that it will lead to happiness, start working on your happiness, which will enhance your success.
Perhaps many people generally enjoy the money and prestige that relative success has produced. However, success did not lead to complete satisfaction: it indirectly led to less satisfaction with life, most likely through time constraints, stress and poor social relations!
Hence, although success and happiness are linked, that chemistry is mostly one-way, not in the way most people think. So working on your success to become happier is ineffective at best and may explode in your face and lead to unhappiness. But working on your happiness gives you the best chance of having both!
It is true that even if everything I have mentioned makes sense to you, you may still find yourself falling into old habits of searching for happiness through worldly success at work. It is as if I imagine the story of that starving artist, where that man starves himself in a cage for a living like his work in a travelling carnival and he is obsessed with his work and as a perfectionist, he strives for what I might call – an impeccable fast – and the hunger artist is proud of his success, despite it is always gloomy!! Where is the desired happiness after all the trouble?
After time passes while he is in this state, the act of the hunger artist becomes out of the public interest. In a desperate attempt to revive his faltering career, he is trying to fast more than ever. However, he is completely ignored by people, sitting alone in his cage. Eventually, the hunger artist will starve himself to death!
In the end, we may have a little bit of that hunger artist in us, but honestly, you won’t find happiness by giving up happiness, so don’t starve yourself. But inevitably, your chances of success will increase if you eat!
Dr Yousuf Ali Al Mulla is a physician, medical innovator and writer.