Home » Blogs » Happily Imperfect » Is Success Making you Happy?

Is Success Making you Happy?

Is Success making you Happy?


Conventional wisdom is that success will lead to happiness. On the surface, it makes perfect sense. If I work hard and achieve my goals, I will be proud of myself and rewarded by the rest of the world.

The research just doesn’t support this idea. I loved Shawn Achor’s book The Happiness Advantage and popular Ted Talk about happiness at work.

Success doesn’t necessarily create happiness. Have you ever noticed that there are a lot of successful people with an awful lot of problems? I presume that celebrities with drug addictions and politicians having affairs aren’t really all that happy.

Success and achieving your goals will not make you happy.

It’s not that success can’t contribute at all to positive feelings. But instead of happiness, success often leads to setting an even higher goal. It’s never enough and you’re never happy because there’s always more to achieve. Achor’s research showed that happiness leads to greater success, not the other way around. A happy brain leads to greater creativity, productivity, energy.

Hmm…so, I’ve got to be happy before I can be successful. That’s a tough pill to swallow when you’re a perfectionist.

Here is my recipe for increasing happiness:

  • Build social connections. In other words, have fun and spend quality time with family and friends. Make new friends if you feel isolated. Eat dinner as a family.
  • Purposefully look for the good in your life and in the world. Create a simple gratitude practice of writing or sharing several positives every day. Seek out good news from a site like Huff Post Good News.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Practice self-compassion. This just means be nice to yourself. Don’t put yourself down. Talk to yourself as you would a friend.
  • Practice forgiveness. Actively work on forgiving both yourself and others.
  • Meditate or create quiet time to clear your mind.
  • Pursue a hobby just for fun.


If you’d like to to grow your happiness, please follow me on Twitter @SMartinLCSW for more tips and inspiration.



image courtesy of Kibsri at

Is Success Making you Happy?

Sharon Martin, LCSW

Sharon Martin is a licensed psychotherapist and codependency expert practicing in San Jose, CA. She is the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism: Evidence-Based Skills to Help You Let Go of Self-Criticism, Build Self-Esteem, and Find Balance and several ebooks including Navigating the Codependency Maze.  

To learn more, visit Sharon's website. And please sign-up for free access to her resource library HERE (worksheets, tips, meditations, and resources for healing codependency, perfectionism, anxiety and more).

One comment: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Martin, S. (2015). Is Success Making you Happy?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2020, from


Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.