For a while I used to wonder why some people seem so bothered by my being someone who likes to be happy and smile. One of my past romantic relationships was actually plagued by this problem. There was a constant need to poke holes at my positive attitude with the pretense of “nobody is that happy,” or “nobody likes everyone.” The first part is true, I am this happy 95% of the time; the second is actually more complex because I do try to find things in common with almost anyone but I definitely not like everybody. Until I read this article over at Zen Habits, I did not have a good explanation as to how I why it was so easy for me to switch that happy switch.
The reason I am so happy is that I don’t measure myself with someone else’s ruler. The article closes with a very simple but powerful couple of sentences.
“So forget about “success”, and just find joy, passion, love, awesome-ness right now, in this moment. *That* is a success you can achieve, without any self-help course, without any method. Just go out and do it.”
I have never chased success, especially not someone else’s idea of it. It stings a little when sometimes members of my family said that I could have been a lawyer or a doctor and that would have given me more “status.” However, I don’t think either of those could have made me happier. What I do to make money is not what makes me in my eyes successful at all. Maybe it is because of it I learned that I could not measure my success by someone else’s ideas, and in a way their passing that judgment helped me go down the road of understanding this idea lots quicker.
The article centers around the idea of chasing success in the commonly understood sense of the word being a bad thing. I have to agree wholeheartedly. One of the hardest friendships to lose was because of this same idea. To that person getting ahead in life was more important than personal relationships. I could simply not agree with that idea. If that is what it took to get ahead in business, I really did not want to do it.
During my career, I’ve had opportunities to screw other people over to get ahead but I always chose not to. I will never forget the day when the VP of a company told me that my problem was simply that I did not “kiss enough @ss.” When I like a person it is sincere, not because I think I can get something out of them or the relationship. That is not to say that I don’t understand how most people work, but when I compliment someone it is sincere, not to inflate their ego.
I have been writing here for years now, and I love my blog because, like the Zen Habits writer, I do it for me. It does not matter if have 1 reader or 1000. If this is a vehicle for me to express my feelings and better my writing, I have succeeded. The fact that people like what I write or have found good ideas to expand upon is icing on the cake.
I define success simply by the people you have around you and the relationship you have with them. It is not the number of people, but rather what they bring into your life. Not all the relationships in my life are perfect and many of them could be leap and bounds better, but most of them bring amazing joy to my life. Be it laughter, passion, playing a video game together or just the simple joy of spending an afternoon doing nothing; I am the luckiest man alive by having so many wonderful relationships in my life, starting with my wife.
Sure, I do have goals in my life and some of those are attached to attaining objects or money; but my happiness is not attached to any of those things. Tonight I am having dinner with a friend that is visiting from KC and his wife. Their friendship has meant the world to me because they were there during some rough moments but mostly because it was important for them to spend time with us while they were here in town for a couple of days. Tomorrow, my wife and her online friend of 10 years are going to get to meet face to face for the first time. Maybe it is because I will be spending time with my best friend tomorrow or because I will get to hang out with a bunch of wonderful people at Blizzcon; but I am super happy, super excited and just feel I won the lottery by being able to share my life with so many cool people. So yes I am happy!