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William James described success as a combination of two things.
1) An inner ideal which is followed persistently with courage and
2) an Outer achievement related to that ideal.
Society tends to fixate on the accomplishment of the outer achievement related to that ideal, and not the inner ideal that was followed with courage and determination. William James thought that of the two components that the first was much more important than the second. The pursuit of an inner ideal leads to personal growth and development which is its own form of happiness.
According to William James focusing on the outer achievement related to the ideal is a mistake. Long-term happiness flows from our daily habits and routine. Personal growth provides the most lasting happiness in our lives. When we feel like we are getting better at anything, we feel good about ourselves.
“Progress equals happiness.” Tony Robbins
The greatest reward of success is who we are forced to become. Becoming world class at anything requires tremendous effort and dedication. It is the pursuit of this ideal that molds a person into one deserving of recognition.
Most people think that wealth is a sign of success. It is a common belief that wealth and the material things that it will allow us to purchase will make them happy. Material objects only provide short-lived happiness. Studies have demonstrated that wealthy people are not happier than people of average economic means.
Happiness isn’t something we should defer. We should avoid the mistake of attaching our happiness to the accomplishment of an outer ideal. We must have goals. We must be inspired. Goals are hugely important because they affect how we live. They affect our attitude, our handshake, our smile, and our energy.
We all need to have goals, but when you attach all of your happiness to achieving those goals, you will miss out on all the happiness you could enjoy along the way. The happiness you’ll experience when you achieve the goal will not long last. Then what?
Enjoy the journey toward achieving your goal. Most of your life will be spent in pursuit of your outer ideal, not basking in its accomplishment. Life is a journey. Enjoy every day. It is our responsibility to focus on the simple pleasures of living. This usually begins with gratitude. It is easy to focus on our problems and setbacks and forget all our blessings. Connect with the simple pleasure of everyday living.
Our happiness flows from our daily routines and habitual ways of thinking. If you cannot find happiness while you pursue your inner ideal, you’ll never achieve lasting fulfillment and happiness. You’ll never be successful.
Travis Bradberry, co-author of the New York Times Best Seller, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 wrote a great article for Forbes magazine Ten Habits of Incredibly Happy People. He lists these ten habits:
- They slow down to appreciate life’s little pleasures.
- They exercise, which improves their mood and helps them control their impulses.
- They spend money on other people.
- They surround themselves with the right people. They distance themselves from negative people.
- They stay positive. Even when bad things happened to them.
- They get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep helps mood, focus, energy, and self-control.
- They have deep conversations and build emotional connections.
- They help others, which releases chemicals into their body that make them feel good.
- They make an effort to be happy. They make a conscious decision to be happy and appreciative.
- They have a growth mindset. They believe change is possible and tomorrow will be better than today.
Happiness flows from what we habitually focus on each day. Change your habits, change your life!
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