How to be Happy — Success, Money and Happiness

How to be happy

The formula for success is obsolete.

It’s the model that dictates how we’re supposed to live.

We chase success expecting that happiness is on the other end. It’s not.

But if happiness is your focus you will never find it. Happiness cannot be pursued. The more you aim, the more you’ll miss.

Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, but instead a search for love and significance.

In other words, you will find happiness when you find a reason to be happy. Once you find that reason, happiness follows automatically.

The greatest challenge is to find meaning. Here’s how…


The American Dream has you chasing external symbols of success with the ridiculous notion that these symbols yield happiness.

70% of Americans hate their jobs.

They feel trapped. They acquire debt to earn degrees for jobs they despise to buy things they don’t need. All of this for external validation — someone else’s dream.

You get accustomed to wealth, but you can also become accustomed to misery.

Conventionally, success is determined by how well you measure up to someone else’s standard. Parents, teachers, bosses, coworkers, spouses and neighbors exert pressure until we make lifestyle choices to impress them instead of pursuing our own vision.

Does getting up early and putting on a tie for cubicle captivity ignite you? Nine to five is a contrived work schedule. We’re not really meant to do that as humans.

What if the “American Dream” is not your dream?

Most people fall into their careers. Rarely is there any long term planning involved in the decision.

This is what you’re supposed to do” is the reason behind most inflated mortgages, car payments, 2.3 kids and credit cards.

Take a step back, remove any preconceived ideas of success and reflect on what actually makes YOU happy.

When have you been most passionate about life? I guarantee it’s while infatuated by romance or engrossed in a new experience.

We actually want time more than money.

Not idle time. Time to be challenged. Pushed outside our comfort zone.

Many dream of riches to get away from the struggle, but it’s in turmoil where we discover our inner strength.

A life of tropical drinks and exotic beaches seems envious, but it’s the active life that offers purpose through meaningful activity.

Happiness is the unplanned result of engrossing yourself in an activity greater than yourself.

It seems obvious why an unemployed person would be unhappy, but it’s not entirely due to economics.

During studies, the unemployed have complained their lives felt meaningless, but when they filled that void with unpaid, but meaningful activity, their depression disappeared even though their finances did not change.

The wealthy are often miserable with dysfunctional trust fund children. The sedentary life is miserable. I’ve spent months on beaches to quickly learn I could not stand the boredom.

We need to be challenged.

When you follow your passions, it brings meaning to your life, but we also need love.

For most people, happiness comes from two things — love and significance.

They are closely related.

We feel significant when doing things we love and we love those who make us feel significant.

You need the freedom to pursue your passions, but you also need time to develop relationships.

We are social creatures. We need to be desired by others, yet we often push loved ones aside while chasing money.

We need money, but only enough to buy our freedom. Instead, we buy a prison sentence of financial obligations while trying to buy happiness.

Some use money as a way to keep score. That’s not morally wrong, but money has less impact on your happiness than you think.

Money does not make you happy, but it can remove some unhappiness that financial problems create. More money will probably not make you happier unless you live below the poverty line.

After your basic needs are met, more may offer a slight bump in happiness up to about $70,000 per year. Beyond that, research shows that more does not generally increase happiness. In other words, on average, the millionaire is not happier than the $70,000 earner.

This does not mean you need to earn $70,000 to be happy. Time is a currency just like money, except time is finite.

You can get more money, but not more time. You must carefully analyze what you give up to earn money. Does that exchange make you happier?

There is a complicated balance between money, success and happiness. Frankly, we get it wrong more often than we get it right.

Few ever take the time to prioritize and then they wonder why life is so unfulfilling.

I cannot prescribe what success or happiness is to you, but here is something to consider:


When you are no longer encumbered by peer pressure, you become free to pursue your own definition of happiness. Success is when you are no longer afraid to be yourself.


Happiness comes from two things: love and significance.

You will be happy when loved by the people you care about and you’re able to enjoy meaningful experiences with them.

But love is not enough.

You will never be fully satisfied unless you believe you are making a contribution in the world. Only you can decide what that contribution is, but you need time to do something meaningful to you.


Rarely does the accumulation of wealth or material objects make one happy. You need just enough money to provide freedom to experience love and significance.

The trick to becoming rich is finding the difficult balance between having enough to be happy, but not chasing money to keep score with your peers.

You can be rich with almost any amount of money.

11 Replies to “How to be Happy — Success, Money and Happiness”

  1. Amazing article Chuck!

    Having traveled and lived across South America taught me a very important lesson on happiness. It’s great to aspire to great things, unless we are putting off being happy waiting for that one big thing to come along! I learned to appreciate and be grateful for all the things I had NOW. To realize that no matter the circumstances or difficulties I may be facing, I’m exactly where I’m suppose to be and that this is my life’s journey. Basically, living in the present moment, accepting everything and that we only have the present moment. It truly does make you connect with your true nature and accomplish more than you could ever imagine.

  2. Another great one Chuck! Well said. We need to determine our OWN definition of success and pay attention and discover what makes us happy.

  3. Great advice to follow and makes you think about where you are in your life. You always do a good job of keeping it short and to the point. Good read Chuck.

  4. Well put. I was exactly the person you describe. No. Money doesn’t make you happy. It took me a while to understand that what I was pursuing
    was respect and significance. Lucky for me I had love, but my drive for success was misguided. It took about 20 years, but I figured it out.

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