musings on life

Here, you'll learn about my journey of adulting in the Windy City.

Happiness vs. Success | Which One Matters Most?

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been listening to songs that have had some variable of the word “happy” in the title – not on purpose (or maybe it’s something subconscious). The first song I started playing on repeat is on Brandy’s Never Say Never album, titled “Happy.” Then, somehow I stumbled upon Ashanti’s song, “Happy,” and although these songs are more so about happiness in a romantic relationship, they both share a joyous melody that the listener can’t refuse to be impacted by. I literally walk down the street smilin’ and singing these songs; I’m sure people probably think I’m nuts, but that doesn’t bother me much.

I’m at a point in my life where I’ve made the decision to be happy; living intentionally to be the best version of myself, have the best relationships and be the best example for young women who may be looking to me for guidance or inspiration, whether I know them or not. As a young adult, people tend to offer a lot of advice, usually unwarranted, on how to navigate the tidal waves life can sometimes pitch your way. And if you aren’t careful, those same folks will make you believe happiness is unattainable or only for certain people – as if being happy is a privilege for those from an esteemed pedigree. It never ceases to amaze me how people who’ve made decisions they regret really try to spread that negativity around and want others to share in their smallness. Ridiculous, right?

So while we chase happiness, in whatever form it may come, what about success? Can we have that too? Can the two join hands and sing kumbaya? Or do we have to choose which one matters most to us?

First, we need to define what happiness is and what success is, for each of us personally. Ideally, the two should coincide, but life gets in the way and most times, one outweighs the other. Take a second to reflect on who you’d define as successful people. For me, Oprah popped into my head first. Then Beyonce. Althought I don’t like all of her shows, my girl Shonda Rhimes IS killing the game right now (I’m a die-hard Grey’s Anatomy fan fi life). Now. Consider some folks you know who are truly happy; same people you considered successful? If so, that’s awesome! If not, that isn’t uncommon either.

But what if we changed the way we thought about happiness and success – what if we gave them the same criteria? Call me crazy, but I think it’s possible to have happiness AND success. On the road to successful living, will you always be happy? No, probably not. But I think keeping in mind the following will help in your quest to align your life of happiness and success, instead of happiness or success:


1.    Listen to a multitude of experiences, but only absorb what you need

Once you become serious and dedicated to building your success and happiness, there isn’t much space left in your head to listen to much gossiping, whining or general foolishness. But it’s impossible to walk through life and not be confronted with this these poisonous principles at some point. Here’s a tip: when you’re around people that love to hear themselves speak and feel the perpetual need to make folks laugh when they’re exaggerating a story, listen, but don’t absorb. It’s only a matter of time before you become the butt of one of their jokes.

Your mind and body are temples: refrain from filling your precious parts with anything that keeps YOU from fulfilling yourself.

Someone’s bad choices suck for them, but can be a lesson on what not to do for you. Only take what you need.

2.    Prayer and proper meditation

Do you know who you are? Have you taken time to really figure out what it is you want in life, what you stand for? Do you even know what happiness/success looks like for you? None of those questions can be answered without spending some time with yourself and with God, or whatever force greater than yourself you believe in. There’s power in faith, but you have to be specific when you go to the Lord.

Let’s be clear though, God is not some fairy that just gives us what we want upon demand. We have to put in work – our hearts, minds and intentions must be pure.

A couple years ago, I felt stuck (we’ll explore this more in later posts) and wasn’t living up to my full potential. I knew I wanted more, but wasn’t sure how to get started. So I did what I knew – I started asking God for clarity and understanding. I asked Him to make it plain, too. A good place to start is admitting that you need help and that you’re relying fully on Him to lead you onto the path He desires for you.

 3.    Personalization

Your happiness/success formula should be customized just for you. My idea of the two and your ideas are (and should be) completely different. On a sheet of paper (or spreadsheet), make three columns. In one column, list all things that bring you happiness in life; leaving one column blank, make a third column that denotes how to achieve that happiness listed in column one. In essence, this should be success, right?

If not, in that second column you left blank, let’s call this the “connector” column, write down what you need to do in order to gain success from your happiness phrases in column 1. Everyone’s columns will vary, but the point is, this is your plan. Your ideas. Your path. Be honest with yourself and what you want in this life.

So, between happiness and success, which one matters most? Neither. Because they’re equally important and attainable.


Like what you read here? Cool. You might be interested in my thoughts on making leaps of faith – check it here.