What is important in life? Success or happiness?

I was asked this answer on Quora a few days ago. I could have written the answer in one word, but then I chose to frame a better answer, for everyone’s understanding, so that they not only read my answer considering it to be my personal opinion, but also understand it and apply it in their lives. Here is my answer from that question:

(In case you wish to read my answer on Quora, here it is: Should one be successful or happy?)

Here is the complete answer:

  1. Mr A has billions of dollars. But he cries every night as he’s unhappy. What’s the point of earning a billion dollars then?
  2. Mr B is the most famous person of the world. But he cries every night as he’s unhappy. What’s the point of having a huge fan base then?
  3. Mr C is most renowned artist of the world. But he cries every night as he’s unhappy as well! What’s the point of being renowned then?

Is there anything common in the three people? Yes – the amazing, tremendous success! One is a billionaire, the other has a huge fan base as he’s so famous, and the third is the most renowned artist. All three of them are highly successful in their fields. But, there’s another thing that’s common, and that is – their unhappiness, which is there even after their success.

  1. Mr D is very happy, he is a small farmer earning enough to feed himself and his family – but he sings songs, dances and sleeps peacefully each night. In his and his village’s eyes, he’s successful!
  2. Mr E is very happy. He is a small IT-employee who jumps to joy when he sees a small increment in his paycheck every year! In his and his family’s eyes – he’s successful!
  3. Mr F is very happy. He’s a dabbawalla, for whom the sole purpose of his life is feeding people! His work gives him happiness. In his eyes – he is successful!

Mr A, B, C, D, E and F – they all die one day. Now they all are resting in 7X3 coffin – different lives lived above ground, yet same after death beneath ground!

The definition of success is different for everyone. For some, even earning 1 million per minute is failure, and for some, earning 6 lacs per year is tremendous success! It is ultimately your choice – what is success for you? And have you been able to achieve it while being happy? If you have to sacrifice your happiness for your success, sorry – that is not success, that is failure! Because you are successful only “for the world to see” and not for yourself. And why are you so keen on impressing the world, who won’t be walking the face of this planet after one thousand years anymore? We all are replaceable, and we all will be replaced. Every man who is walking the Earth today, will not be here after one hundred years. Isn’t it enough of a reality-check that we should prioritize things in our lives correctly now?

Success can’t guarantee happiness. But happiness can guarantee success!

One Life…




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  Comments (16)

  • Pulkit Narang

    January 5, 2016

    Thank you.
    Now I understand what you mean by “redifine happiness for yourself”.
    Seems their is lot to learn

    • Mehek

      January 5, 2016

      You’re welcome! 🙂 I’m glad I could help…

  • Balaji

    January 16, 2016

    Sometimes you need to succeed on something; for being happy. And lot a times you need to be happy for being successful.

    When it comes to career, Happiness should be ultimate aim and success should not be at the cost of happiness. BE HAPPY TO BE SUCCESSFUL. Or like don’t chase to be successful coz, you are never going to get there unless you really need it it.

    Happiness is a Balancing factor which not only depend on what you accomplish personally, but also depends on what you have not accomplished as well.

    • Mehek

      January 17, 2016

      Exactly 🙂 Thanks for your valuable opinion…

  • Muddassir Hussain Ahmad

    January 21, 2016

    Happiness is inner peace. It doesn’t requires an empire not to be poor. this piece of peace can be found in a tiny thing which amazes you even in a smile of a childwho even doesn’t know to speak.
    Great story by you Mehek 🙂

    • Mehek

      January 21, 2016

      Thanks! 🙂 I’m glad you liked it!

  • Kiran

    February 16, 2016

    Even people who are succeed enough n life are happy while people who are struggling for their daily food,how could be happy???I think its upto in their hands to be happy or not…

    • Mehek

      February 19, 2016

      Indeed it’s up to them! My article does not state that successful people are unhappy or vice versa, but just a simple fact that ‘success cannot guarantee happiness’.

  • Arbind Kumar

    February 26, 2016

    Thanks you so much teach me a helpful lesson, this will help me to forgetting my past

    • Mehek

      February 28, 2016

      🙂 Thanks!

  • Aayush

    April 23, 2016

    Very inspiring! I have personally experienced this. Initially I thought that getting good marks or getting into a top college would make me happy as it would be a success for me. But as soon as I achieved it, my mind was no longer satisfied and linked my happiness to other future goals. So I got a realisation that happiness should not be a byproduct of success.

    • Mehek

      April 23, 2016

      Absolutely! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your views…

  • Manish Aggarwal

    July 13, 2016

    Nicely explained in a simplified manner!!!

  • Richa

    August 15, 2016

    Well I am copy/pasting my answer that I wrote on quora.

    I think happiness is a state of mind. It all lies in your brain or heart…either way, our opinions and feelings of sadness is greatly influenced by the society.
    I remember the words of my english teacher…a similar discussion was going in class. She asked us to imagine ourselves at the sea shore where pleasant breeze is flowing there is complete peace at that place. You are feeling pure bliss and happiness and suddenly you get a call from your friend that you have failed in exam 😛

    Same setting, same beach, same breeze but the peace of your mind is disturbed and you are not happy. You aren’t able to enjoy your surroundings.

    Take another case, guess you have scored good in exams. You are happy, you are successful in achieving what you wanted, then suddenly you get to know that your friend has scored higher than you. Again, same exam, same marks, same success, but no happiness. The thing is we think success is achieved when we have achieved more than others…like there is a scale of measuring success or something. And I think that is completely normal…that’s human nature. It happens with me too.

    As long as we are not happy…we haven’t achieved success.
    or If we are happy and content then we are successful.

    • Mehek

      August 16, 2016

      Thanks for sharing it! 🙂

  • Manasvi

    December 10, 2016

    Nice D Post