Happiness, Then Success


Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer could have won the award simply for his wise observation that “happiness is the key to success.”

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

Amen, Mr. Schweitzer. The winner of the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize offered an approach to work and life that we should all adopt. In this post, I will contrast the typical way we go about discovering happiness and the method prescribed by Schweitzer. The difference could not be any more striking.

More often than not, we operate under the assumption that achieving a certain level of success will result in sheer happiness. We do everything we can to warrant certain levels of praise and approval from others. We push. We grind. We endure. And most of the time, we do all these things not for our personal enjoyment or satisfaction, but for the approval of others.

As a musician, I can confirm the temptation to live life this way. It is a seemingly natural inclination to want to write a song that ends up #1 on the charts. It is par for this particular course to want to put on a live performance that ends up earning me rave reviews, both from critics and fans. Again, the desired top-notch singing and performing is motivated by the approval of others. My thinking (subconscious or not) is that I will feel happy if fans and critics tell me that I have done a good job at what I already enjoy doing.

Schweitzer’s approach to life is a complete reversal of this “I need success in order to be happy” way of living. He turns things completely upside down by insisting that success follows happiness, not the other way around. Schweitzer’s advice is to find out what you love to do and then figure out a way to do it on a somewhat permanent basis. When we are consistently doing what we love (preferably with those whom we love), we will realize that we have stumbled upon success.

It is never too late to set goals for the current year. Since discovering Schweitzer’s quote, I am determined to spend less time in 2016 seeking the approval and affection of other people. I want to actively pursue doing the things I love for the sake of doing them, to further improve my craft while learning more about the craft and, consequently, myself.

Trust me: Being a full-time musician, I will gladly accept rave reviews and ample amounts of applause. But those things will no longer be why I write songs and perform them in front of others. I must remind myself again and again of Schweitzer’s message: Happiness leads to success.

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