The Happiness and Success Obsession

Let’s face it – we live in a society that is focused on both happiness and success. Not unworthy goals by any means, but have we gone too far? Has it moved from something attainable to something that feels far away and impossible to achieve?

“I just want to be happy” is a statement I hear over and over again in therapy. I am always curious as to what that might mean for someone; what that would look like, how ‘being happy’ would feel. After exploring it in more detail, we tend to settle instead on what it would mean to be content. It tends to lend itself nicely to a peaceful feeling, a more realistic feeling for what we ultimately strive for.

In a similar way, the word ‘success’ carries with it a heavier weight. It is too big of a word – does it mean financial success? Success in life? In love? In our career? The pressure we feel to be happy and successful keeps us focused on the future, making us more prone to experiencing fear and anxiety.

Perhaps all we need to do is re-shift our focus to the present by softening the words and therefore the expectations we place on ourselves and our loved ones. We are much better served to aim to create a satisfying life in which we feel content. Then it feels simpler, more peaceful, more attainable.

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