I Stopped Chasing Success And Happiness. Here’s An Alternative To Make The Most Out Of Life.

Liars.

They told me that if I find success, I will be happy. And some told me that life is all about happiness and enjoyment.

I disagree with both.

You can achieve so much and still feel hollow from inside. In the same way, you can feel happy and still perform unhealthy or destructive activities. It may also lead to being settled or ignorant of your capabilities.

Success is about achieving more. Happiness is about being content with what you have.

If you desire less, you suffer less. Thus, you become happier.

If you desire more, you suffer more. But, you may become more successful.

So which one should you choose?

You can choose both.

We all suffer in one way or another. But the question is — What are you willing to suffer for?

The problem is that most people desire too many things at one time.

The more things you desire, the more you have to suffer.

So, what’s the solution?

Desire less, but desire strong.

We go about desiring things all day long and then wondering why we’re unhappy. So, I like to stay aware of that because then I can choose my desires very carefully. I try not to have more than one big desire in my life at any given time, and I also recognize that as the axis of my suffering. I realize that that’s where I’ve chosen to be unhappy. — Naval Ravikant

When we desire a lot, we may remain unsatisfied with life.

The reason is that no matter what we achieve, we still have unmet needs which will stop us from giving ourselves permission to be happy. So, we stay unfulfilled and unhappy.

Even if you have a huge bucket list of things you want to do before dying, focus only on checking a few items first instead of trying to do all at once.

Pick your priorities and desires carefully and then let them be the source of your suffering.

Borrow happiness from the appreciation of what you’ve already achieved and then desire a few things strongly.

Once you get what you want, take the time to appreciate and move on to your next achievement.

Kill Regrets Before Death

Regrets can either come from desiring too many things or not having the courage to follow your inner voice.

What do you enjoy doing?

What are you willing to struggle for?

What sacrifices are you willing to make?

How do you want to be remembered?

These are the key questions you must answer to avoid the biggest regrets in life.

Don’t chase what success means to other people. Define what success means to you.

Take the time to define your values, core desire, deeper purpose and a vision.

When your daily actions reflect who you are and what you want to become, you will feel calm and fulfilled. And once you achieve your goals, you will feel immense joy and gratitude.

After success, you have to realign and check with yourself if you’re moving in the right direction.

Misalignment with yourself keeps you unhappy even after achieving your goals.

Integrity keeps you happy on the path of success.

Your decisions and action must be aligned with your values. The moment you betray your values, you will feel unsatisfied.

Alternatives To Success and Happiness

Instead of chasing success, chase growth. And instead of chasing happiness, chase peace.

Being on a path of continuous growth and passion helps you live a meaningful life.

Don’t tie your happiness with your goals. Pursue goals for continuous growth, not for a set destination.

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning. — Benjamin Franklin

While suffering, you may not find success or happiness. But you can always find growth and peace in any situation.

The combination of growth and peace leads to a life of fulfilment.

So, don’t settle. Change the things you don’t like about your life but also accept the things you can’t change.

Success may involve comparison with others whereas growth is about the comparison with your past self. Happiness is just a state of mind whereas peace is a way of living.

People think delaying gratification for future success is to delay happiness. But it’s not true.

The act of delaying gratification can become joyful if you treat it such way. When you’re intrinsically motivated, the struggle becomes the joy.

Keep pushing your boundaries and take the time to appreciate your growth.

Stay curious about how much you can grow and learn. (Hint: There is no limit)

An Analogy…

Hedonic Treadmill

It’s a rat race where beautiful moments are forgotten and the present is based on misery. It leads to burnout and then we may find unhealthy ways to make ourselves feel better.

slimming-1136637_1920.png

Trek

It’s a walk towards the top of the mountain. You can look back to appreciate your achievement. You can feel the beauty in the present moment. You keep moving forward. You stay focused on your vision. Here, you intentionally make time for rest, relaxation and recovery.

On this pursuit, success tastes much better than achieving success on a hedonic treadmill. And after achieving success, what do you do? — You appreciate and move forward.

adventure-1850912_1920

Skip the hedonic treadmill, go on a trek instead.

Conclusion

Suffering is inevitable, and it’s important for success. Misery is when you suffer for the wrong reasons.

Suffer for the right reasons and enjoy the pursuit of growth and peace. Success and happiness will come along.

Remain grateful and strive for what truly matters to you.

Looking for more alternatives to happiness and success?

Read: There’s more to life than happiness and success (3 min.)

Want To Succeed Every Day?

Design your daily success checklist for high performance and success. Click here to download the free PDF file.

Advertisements

A Practical Hack To Combat Negative Thoughts In 2 Minutes Or Less

According to National Science Foundation, an average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are repetitive thoughts.

If we repeat those negative thoughts, we think negative way more than we think positive thoughts.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapists have a term for it — ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts).

All negative thoughts are not bad. Being alert can help you survive but most negative thoughts are useless. They only create imaginary drama in your mind.

Let’s break this pattern. Do an exercise with me.

Step 1

Take out a piece of paper or open a writing software on your computer or mobile.

Step 2

List every negative thought you have. Once you’ve listed everything down, don’t stop. Dig deeper and write more thoughts about:

  • Your fears
  • Your insecurities
  • Your losses
  • Things that stress you out regularly
  • Things that irritate you about other people

Step 3

Make another column or a separate list.

Now, for every negative thought, write at least one positive thought.

  • If you fear failure, write one instance when failure helped you to learn a lesson.
  • If you’re insecure about your skills, write how much you’ve improved since you started.
  • If you’ve lost a relationship in the past, write about the beautiful time you spent with each other.
  • If you stress about work, write how your work is serving other people.
  • If you don’t like your coworker’s behavior, write about one positive thing about that person.

Shifting perspective sounds easy. But it’s not.

It takes practice.

This is why I want you to do this exercise right now. Once you do this exercise, your mind will remember it.

It will become part of your thinking process. Whenever you think of a negative thought, counter it with a positive one

Nervous about giving a speech in public? Think of the positive impact you will make.

Lost money? Think of one thing you have remain.

Feeling jealous? Appreciate one thing about yourself.

Make it a habit. Give yourself a one day challenge to balance your thoughts.

The aim is to make this habit part of your subconscious. Once it has become part of your thinking process, you will shift your perspective like Tony Robbins does.

Tony says we live in either of the two mental states — A beautiful state or a suffering state.

A beautiful state is when you feel love, joy, gratitude, awe, playfulness, ease, creativity, drive, caring, growth, curiosity or appreciation.

A suffering state is when you feel stressed out, worried, frustrated, angry, depressed, irritable, overwhelmed, resentful or fearful.

“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Tony was not born optimistic. He practiced it. He put in the effort.

You can do the same.

Your thoughts are the roots of your destiny. Your next action results from your next thought. You owe it to yourself to improve the quality of your thoughts.

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” — Lao Tzu

Take action

Do the exercise and give yourself a one day challenge to get started.

It takes a cue, routine and a reward to form a habit. The cue here is an automatic negative thought (ANT), the routine is a positive thought to balance it out, and the reward is how you feel.

Repeat until it becomes part of your thought process.

Comment below and let me know how it goes.

Want To Succeed Every Day?

Design your daily success checklist for high performance and success. Click here to download the free PDF file.

5 Permissions You Must Give Yourself To Live Your Best Life

You and I are wired to seek permission.

When we were kids, we needed permission from parents, teachers and other elders.

When we grow up, we seek permission from our bosses and authorities.

Our mind is conditioned to ask for permission. But to unlock your full potential, you must learn to give yourself permission and become the owner of your life.

When you take complete ownership of your life, you are in charge of your life experiences. There is no space for blame or excuses.

Many people give keys to their life in the hands of other people or they themselves become the prison guard. They forget that they have the key to unlock the full potential of their life.

I’m here to remind you the permissions you must give yourself.

Give yourself permission to succeed

You are capable of accomplishing great things. But first, you must allow yourself to be successful.

Some people are afraid of success. Some people think that being successful means making a lot of money or being greedy. Such mental programming has to leave your mind.

Success is subjective. You have the power to define your own criteria for success. It could be being a good husband or wife, having a smile at the end of the day, having the freedom to travel the world or taking small steps towards your goal.

No matter what success means to you, you must own it and live up to it. Forget about what society’s definition of success is. Write your own definition and move in its direction.

To make success a habit, set more behavior-based goals instead of outcome-based goals. For example, if you want to lose weight, define success by making the right food choice instead of the number on the weight scale. If you keep succeeding at the behavior-based goals and move in the right direction, the outcome will follow.

Start now. No matter how small the first step is. No matter how slow the progress is.

By default, life has no meaning. But if you strive for greatness, you can give your life a purpose.

Give yourself permission to fail

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.― George Bernard Shaw

Failure is a form of learning.

I don’t know why schools punish failure.

Failure is not a prerequisite for success but it amplifies the success. By making mistakes, you not only learn, but you build a character that transforms every other area of your life. Your mindset changes. You embrace success more because of the effort you put in.

If you let go of the fear of failure, you will not be afraid to explore the possibilities of your life. You will become limitless because you know that making mistakes speeds up your learning and results in growth.

Allow yourself to be imperfect. Put your product or craft in public. Embrace feedback.

All the newsflash, magazines, social media feeds show us the faces of successful people. It seems like they are the perfect people living a perfect life with zero flaws. But in reality, they are like you and me. They just keep on learning from failures.

In the world where success is preached, don’t be afraid to look like a fool. Failure is not a scar on your self-esteem. It’s a battle scar you can be proud of.

Give yourself permission to be yourself

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

When we fake our identity, we try to live up to the fake version we show to the world.

It’s stressful to live up to people’s expectation of who they think you are. On the other hand, if you be yourself, the right people will attract in your life and you won’t have to put energy into showing a fake version of you.

The first step to being yourself is to accept yourself. It means not only accepting the good parts but also accepting the flaws in you.

The reason why we put on a mask is that it is our instinct to get accepted in communities. We could only survive if we were part of a group. The outcasts were rejected and they could not live long.

But today, when you have access to so many people, you don’t have to fear people’s rejection. You will always find like-minded people if you express yourself as you are.

Let go of all the emotional baggage. Forgive yourself and move on. All you have is today. You get to define your future and it can only be great if you stop hurting yourself with the pain of the past.

From today, you can control who you want to be. Define your values, set goals, follow your passion and stay true to yourself.

Don’t be afraid to change. Raise your standards and if you have to, let go of your past identity and change the people around you.

Learn to say no to the people or experiences that do not to appeal you. Life is too short to be inauthentic.

I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time. ― Herbert Bayard Swope

Give yourself permission to be happy

You deserve to be happy now.

You don’t need to wait for the next paycheck, vacation or a soulmate to be happy. So often, we spend our lives thinking about the time in future when we will be happy.

Even after getting what we want, we get hedonically adapted to the gifts in our life. It’s okay to desire more success but first, you must learn to be happy with what you have.

Happiness is a skill. If you can’t be happy today, you won’t be happy tomorrow. To develop the happiness skill you can practice gratitude and mindfulness.

Take a break and do things that you find fun or relaxing. You don’t have to pretend to enjoy the activities that other people might like.

Create a bucket list of the life experiences you want to have and live those experiences. Nobody else will give you the permission to live your life the way you want.

Another way to be happy is to help others. Kindness not only makes the world a better place, it lets you see past the problems you have in life.

Give yourself permission to feel crappy sometimes

The acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience. ― Mark Manson

No matter how much you try to avoid the negative emotions like anger, frustration, sadness, jealousy, etc., you will feel them sometimes in your life.

You don’t have to feel bad about feeling bad. It’s okay to feel that way.

It’s in nature of humans to feel emotions. Instead of resisting such emotions, just observe when they arrive. When you acknowledge them and treat them as a guest, they will leave sooner than you expect them to stay in your mind.

Emotions are beautiful. They help us to deal with hard situations. Become aware of your emotions and soon you will return to your default positive state if you practice the skill of being a happy person.

Don’t let negative emotions define you. Identify yourself as a happy person and treat negative emotions as something you feel temporarily.


The key to your best life is in your hand. Unlock the life you deserve to live because your life matters.

Give yourself permission to succeed, fail, be yourself, be happy and feel crappy to achieve your full potential and live a fulfilled life.

Pleasure is easy but happiness is hard

Pleasure is easy.

A rush of pleasure neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin can easily be obtained by activities like browsing social media, eating a cookie, laughing, etc.

While some of these activities are good for us, some can be harmful if we get addicted to short-term momentary pleasure.

Instant gratification is not reliable for long-term greater happiness.

Everyone wants to be happy. We do most of the things in life because we want to be happy. So why is it so hard to be happy?

Once we get happiness it doesn’t take much time before we lose it. We keep chasing happiness and it never seems to stay with us.

What if we stop chasing happiness? How amazing it would be if we become a ‘happiness magnet’.

There is no magic spell to attract happiness. But there are a few ways I personally use to ‘hack’ happiness.

1. Suffer

Suffer? Isn’t suffering opposite of happiness?

We all have been taught that suffering is miserable. It’s painful and makes us feel terrible.

It’s all true. But what we’re not often told is that suffering is happiness in disguise.

If we never experience suffering we’ll never experience true happiness. In order for us to truly appreciate the beauty of happiness, we need to experience suffering.

A prize money earned by thousands of hours of hard work and practice is way more valuable than money won from a lottery. Yes, both will bring happiness to you but the happiness that you’ll experience in the first scenario would be priceless.

The first reason for that is the feeling of pride and achievement which you will not get if you win a lottery. The more effort we put into something, the more we value it.

Another reason why suffering brings happiness to us is that when our goal is meaningful enough, suffering becomes a way of happiness.

If you look at athletes training hard, you might think that they are in misery and pain. They indeed experience pain but happiness becomes part of the pain.

You don’t need to smile to be happy. You could be sweating, huffing and puffing and be happy if you enjoy something.

I’m sure you’ll have at least one thing in life that you enjoy suffering for. It could be exercising, hustling, parenting, traveling, and so on. Every journey is a combination of pain and pleasure. The combination results in happiness.

Whether you believe it or not, we seek obstacles. If life were too easy, we’ll be bored to death.

2. Take shots of happiness

Happiness is a state, not an object to keep. If you aim to be happy 24*7, you’ll end up in misery. At one point, you’ll become tired of being happy and emotions like anger and sadness will take its place.

The absence of happiness will create room for happiness. You can fill the void of unhappiness with activities that can make you feel at peace. Activities like deep work, deep thinking don’t directly bring happiness to us but they can put us in the state of flow which I’ve talked about in the previous post.

Remind yourself to be happy. We all have heard the phrase “happiness is a choice”. What it means is that at any given moment, we can change our mental state. Realize that all our thoughts are a product of our experiences, surroundings, and imagination.

If you’re dwelling on a past mistake or worrying about a future event, you can choose to look up at the sky and get lost in the beauty of nature. I know it’s easier said than done. It takes practice and awareness of our thoughts to ‘choose happiness’.

At least once a week, schedule a gratitude meeting with yourself. You can do it on daily basis on a journal too but don’t let it become a mundane task. Writing or speaking can help you express your thoughts but you need to feel the emotions every time you express gratitude.

3. Miss out on life

We have unlimited choices at any moment of our life. We are always missing out on something. There is no best way to spend your time.

Sometimes, we feel sad because of missing out an event or activity. Be okay with that sadness. When we choose to do something, we are automatically not doing thousands of other things that we could have done.

Appreciate the one thing that you’re not missing out on. If you were not reading this post, you would be doing some other activity. But you don’t have to think about what you’re not doing. The possibilities are endless.

4. Do random acts of kindness with no expectation of getting anything in return.

It’s no surprise that making others happy is one of the best ways to think beyond our own problems. If you do something bigger than yourself, you’ll be free of your own small worries of life.

You can do the random act of kindness for your friends, family, colleague, strangers or simply share happiness with them by involving them in your experience.

If you want to pursue kindness, you’ll first have to be happy yourself. If you’re not in a positive state, you’ll do injustice to people around you.

Make others happy so that you can be happy and be happy so that you can make others happy.

There’s more to life than happiness and success

Success and happiness are two overused words that get tossed around so often in self-help books.

If we stay happy all the time, we’ll disregard the value of being happy. If we never experience unhappiness we’ll devalue happiness.

If we become successful and get everything we wanted there will be nothing to achieve. Also, the reward of success is amplified thousand times when we work hard to get something.

Our end goal is not to be happy or successful per say.

Our ways to be happy or successful might differ but in the end, all we want is fulfilment in life.

Here’s how you can live your life to the fullest beyond being happy in the present moment or being successful:

1. Pursue something that excites you

Whether it’s your job, side hustle or a passion project for yourself, find something that sparks fire in you.

2. Always have something to look forward to

Anticipation is more rewarding than the reward itself. Remember the last day before summer holidays or the day of last exam.

3. Find meaning and shift your attitude

No matter how small your job is, believe that you’re doing something meaningful.

“A man came across three masons who were working at chipping chunks of granite from large blocks. The first seemed unhappy at his job, chipping away and frequently looking at his watch. When the man asked what it was that he was doing, the first mason responded, rather curtly, “I’m hammering this stupid rock, and I can’t wait ’til 5 when I can go home.”

”A second mason, seemingly more interested in his work, was hammering diligently and when asked what it was that he was doing, answered, “Well, I’m molding this block of rock so that it can be used with others to construct a wall. It’s not bad work, but I’ll sure be glad when it’s done.”

”A third mason was hammering at his block fervently, taking time to stand back and admire his work. He chipped off small pieces until he was satisfied that it was the best he could do. When he was questioned about his work he stopped, gazed skyward and proudly proclaimed, “I…am building a cathedral!”

“Three men, three different attitudes, all doing the same job.”

4. Change your narrative

Imagine that you life story will be turned into a movie. Embrace the time of adversity. We can’t change our reality but we can change our perspective. See failures as opportunities to grow.

“There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.” – Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is the Way.

5. Make difference in people’s life

No matter how small or big,  make a positive impact in other people’s life. You can choose to deeply impact a few people’s life or make smaller impact on many people.

6. Do things you really enjoy

Even if other people don’t get it. Even if it does’t make you money. It could be a hobby, field of study or any obsession like collecting, organizing, cleaning, painting, playing, singing, dancing, writing, etc.

You can immerse yourself into deep work or play and experience what’s called as flow.

7. Have novel experiences

Routine can trap our mind and narrow our perception. Expose yourself to different experiences that can potentially turn into good stories to tell.

8. Do scary things

Step out of your comfort zone not only to find opportunities for growth, but also to feel proud about yourself regardless of the outcome. Feel proud because you tried. This will build your self esteem and make you feel good about yourself.

9. Connect with people

Be part of a community of people who have similar goals. Also, make sure to form close relationship with few people.

10. Take care of yourself

Your mind and body are the tools that determine the way you experience your life. Respect them enough to take good care of them.

11. Grow

Become a better version of yourself in different aspects of your life.

12. Celebrate

Life is too short for not celebrating small wins. Be grateful for little things in life.

13. Let go

Let go of attachment with everything. Nothing is permanent.


Life is not just about being happy or successful. They are only part of the experience.

Life is a process. It’s about how you live that determines the quality of your life.

If you’re often doing at least a few things mentioned above, you’ll make the most of your life.