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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

SUCCESS VERSUS HAPPINESS

I was watching one of the too many reality shows (Holly's World)that are on TV these days a few days ago and a guy on his way to what at that time was to him, sure success (read fame)thought out loud whether he would prefer success to happiness. To him, happiness was hanging out with his friends and having a generally good time with people he was comfortable with. Success on the other hand, was leaving the place where he had all his friends and going to earn a living and achieve fame in a place he could hardly understand.

At first, I was startled by the question he asked himself about whether it was happiness he wanted or success. My first reaction was of course to exclaim "but they are not mutually exclusive!" And of course, I believe with all my heart that happiness and success are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, I have only ever had one ambition in life. It is not to be a lawyer or to be rich beyond my wildest dreams or to be famous. No, it is a very simple ambition. And yet in my opinion, it encompasses so many other things that people ask for individually. What is this ambition? It is simply, as you might have guessed, to be happy.

My own definition of happiness, unlike the young man's in that reality TV show includes success; not just in my work, but also in my personal life. It includes the happiness or fulfillment of members of my family, immediate and extended, it includes the happiness of my friends and the success of my country.

I have not checked the definition of happiness in the dictionary, but I know I really do not need to, to arrive at my definition. And my definition has to be so wide because it really will be a difficult thing for me to say I have everything I want when the people around me either lack so many things, or have to constantly run to me to give them this or that due to probably the biting economic hardship in the country.

While for me happiness and success might not be mutually exclusive, I wonder, whether particularly the celebrities and a lot of the public figures we see both in Nigeria and abroad, do not make a conscious decision to pick one and sacrifice the other. More than once, I have had to ask myself why people who are so creative that they literally bring a lot of joy into the lives of others do not themselves get any happiness from their works.

Michael Jackson was by all and any standard imaginable, a very successful musician, indeed, he was a legend. Was he happy? That is a question I believe can only be truthfully answered in the negative. Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Whitney Houston, all have achieved a great deal of success in their chosen career. But can it be said that they truly have happiness? Well...I very much doubt that.

And yet, I am positive that success and fame are not mutually exclusive. whether a person has just one or both really depends on what the person truly desires. And a person can be successful, famous and still be happy. Such a person will only have to work at it...