The 'Ensuement' of Happiness and Success
Posted by Claude on Friday 24th July 2009 at 17:39:22
So many of us set goals such as “I want to be successful, and/or wealthy, and/or happy”, and so on.
These are noble goals, but as goals within and of themselves, they can be problematic. Often, the more we pursue something, the more elusive it becomes. We might say for instance that for us to be happy, we need to achieve a certain monthly income.
The problem is, what happens once we achieve that amount? We might be happy that we have achieved our goal, but will we continue to be happy? After a while achieving this level of income may no longer make us happy? We might get bored, frustrated and demotivated, so what do we then do?
Do we increase our “Income to be happy” goal, and if so, to how much. Even if we are able to reach our ever increasing target, eventually the question has to be asked “How much is enough?” How much will really make me happy? Will money as such ever truly make me happy.
There has to be something more than the outright pursuit of wealth, success or happiness.
Victor Frankl, in his well known work titled “Man’s Search for Meaning”, has this to say about success “Don't aim at success--the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.”
As Frankl says, happiness and success must ensue. It cannot be pursued. You have to let it happen, or conversely, it will happen, exactly because you are not cared about it and you are not pursuing it. Happiness and success will ensue as a by-product of the process of pursuing meaning and purpose.
Meaning and purpose are two of the principles on which Danah Zohar bases the concept of Spiritual Intelligence in her work “Spiritual Intelligence – The Ultimate Intelligence”. She describes Spiritual Intelligence as the intelligence by which we access our deepest meanings, values, purposes, and highest motivations.
Both writers speak of meaning. What is meaning? The on-line dictionary Answers.com speaks of meaning as something that is of “Inner Significance”.
In Frankl’s case he saw this Inner Significance being achieved by pursuing something that is “unique and specific in that it must and can be fulfilled by that personal alone”.
Meaning can come from doing or achieving something. Meaning can also come from enduring something, which in Frankl’s case was primarily around finding meaning in suffering. Frankl, quoting the philosopher Nietzsche, said that “He who has a why (meaning) to live can bear with almost any how.
Frankl’s counsel to people is to “listen” to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run (and he emphasizes that it is in the long run), success and happiness will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.
The question then to all of us is what is it in our lives that is of Inner Significance to us. What is our why?
Once it is clear what is meaningful to us, we can pursue that, and happiness and success will ensue.
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