Which Comes First Success or Happiness?

Everyone is searching for success, happiness, fulfillment and a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives. Many people unfortunately have not learned that putting the cart before the horse does not answer their dream of lasting happiness and a meaningful life.

Many people who have chased and found financial and career success have discovered that there is something substantial missing in their lives. Success, although a worthy goal, is no guarantor of happiness, peace and inner balance. However, if one discovers what true happiness is for them and achieves that inner sense of peace and contentment they set in motion an array of benefits that life showers upon them. Effort, busyness, and filling every moment of life with activities, pursuit, and the endless drive for achievement is not the answer to a happy life.

The following 15 principles when understood, integrated into your values and philosophy will ensure a life worth living.

Principle Number One: Have meaningful, challenging goals.

All life moves forward regardless of whether we resist or flow with it. Clear, focused and worthwhile goals keep you moving in the right direction and toward the higher ground. The meaningful life, daily moves toward getting better, wiser, more peaceful and stronger. Today, find your passion and purpose. This will guarantee the peace you desire, the success you deserve and the happiness you search for. Dream big goals and don’t let anyone discourage you. Set your goals, give life to them and take action on them and watch your future unfold as you have dreamed. But keep in mind as you pursue your dreams and goals that success is not in crossing the finish line – but in enjoying the thrill of the race.

Principle Number Two: See the reality of life not its illusions.

All life is a perceptual experience. We filter all life’s experiences through our own personal paradigms. Life is not what happens to us or around us but whether we choose to see it clearly and how we respond. Learn to see beyond your personal judgments, opinions, beliefs, prejudices and illusions and know yourself. Life is a classroom where there is a constant stream of loving teachers helping us to rise above our personal limitations and life dramas. Today forget your mistakes but remember their lessons. You will never be perfect. You will always be in a state of development and unfolding. Be patient with yourself, relax and enjoy the ride.

Principle Number Three: Use your power of choice wisely.

Every moment of our life we make decisions. Some are life changing while others seem insignificant at the time. All choices lead to consequences. Some are positive, and some are negative. We always have options and choices. We may not like some of them, but we always have them. The choices we are given present us with the opportunity to move steadily in the direction of a better way of life as we move toward our destiny. If we chose wisely, we move smoothly toward this destination. If we choose poorly, we are guided back to the correct path. Each of us is responsible for the quality of our life. To point your finger at anyone other than yourself for your life’s outcomes is to live in frustration and denial. Each of us is free to choose any path. So today choose wisely, for tomorrow’s harvest is planted today. Remember, all choices and decisions bring with them consequences. We create our future circumstances with our present actions, choices and focus.

Principle Number Four: Do what you love.

To be truly happy, successful and productive it is necessary to discover a life mission that you love and feel passionate about. When you find and serve this purpose only then will you honor life with your talent, desire and enthusiasm. The rewards of life are there for each of us. To find the true joy and satisfaction of a life well lived requires that we do what we love. If you are stuck in a position, career or relationship where there is no passion and real love you will slowly waste away while your days whither. It is unlikely that you will ever love every aspect of your career or job. There will always be those tasks that are distasteful or annoying; however, the real challenge is to learn to do with love those things that you do not like to do.

Principle Number Five: Live without regrets.

The trail of life is littered with good intentions and deeds gone astray. To live with regret is to rob your past of its pleasing memories, your present of its joy and peace and your future of its glory. Make decisions and take actions today that ensure a life filled with harmony and magic. Learn to live in your present moments with wonder, respect, full awareness and a knowledge of how your actions will impact your future attitudes and relationships. Live today as if it will be the last day you will have to experience fresh air, talk with a friend, tell someone special you love them, witness a beautiful sunset or a smile from a loved one. Today is the only one you know you have. No one has a contract that they will see another sunrise or watch the moon rise over the horizon. Make this day count. Use it up, breathe it in, experience it and take some memory from this day into all your tomorrow’s.

Principle Number Six: Learn to laugh.

God has a wonderful sense of humor, and he put a piece of it into each of us. The essence of laughter is to relieve the stress and seriousness of life so that we can experience its fullness. Life is not all order and joy, nor is it all pain and chaos. The human estroyed in the process. We need to recapture the joy, excitement and wonder of our childhood. Taking yourself, your career, business, problems or life too seriously is to ensure a life filled with pain and anxiety. Relax, you are not going to get out of this life alive.

Principle Number Seven: Life is a neutral experience.

It isn’t important what happens to us or around us. What matters over the long run is how we respond to these events, circumstances or people. Problems, failure, success, risk, criticism and adversity are neutral. They are insensitive to your reaction or subsequent actions. Life says, “Here is life, do what you will with it.” Life is not an event but an unfolding process of becoming. Face your fears, confront your doubts, overcome your negative tendencies and trust yourself and the process of your life. It is then that you will know real power, confidence and humility.

Principle Number Eight: Control your thoughts.

Thought creates habits, habits determine actions, and actions become our life. Most thinking is nothing more than old information, attitudes, fears and hopes recycled then reborn with a new face. Guard your thoughts. Observe your thoughts in action. Control them and do not become a slave to their impulses. We move toward and become the expression of our silent inner words. Therefore only allow into your mind what you would see manifested in your outer world. You can become what you choose. The pathway to freedom is through the control of your mind. Learn to use it with care. Guard its entrance. Let nothing in that you would not want to become a part of your life.

Principle Number Nine: Share yourself.

Each of us is a “once-in-a-lifetime, unique person” with a personal past, present and future. There are countless ways we can contribute to the lives of those who cross our path, as well as those who we may never meet. When we share the gift of our time, love, knowledge and compassion with others we give them a piece of ourselves, but we still have it to share again. One way to share your life with others is to be an encourager. Whenever possible, share a kind word, a friendly smile, an open hand or an understanding heart. Let down your walls that separate you from the spontaneity of life.

Principle Number Ten: Learn to detach.

Attachment to planned outcomes or the actions of other people is to live with frustration. Each of us is on our own personal path through life. We are learning our own lessons, experiencing our own unique results and creating our very personal future. It is not our role or right to attach our projected outcomes for other people’s lives. Life can change in a heartbeat. To mortgage your present for a future you can not guarantee is to miss the magic and mystery of today. Let go of your attachments to outcomes for others, as well as the outcomes in your own life. Life is what happens as we pass through life. You cannot manipulate your life into what you would like to think it will become. Enjoy the ride.

Principle Number Eleven: Live with gratitude.

Gratitude is positive energy in action. It sets in motion a series of events in the universe that will send you even more. Focus on what you have. Be thankful for whatever blessings life has bestowed on you, no matter how little or how late they may appear. When you are centered in gratitude, you open yourself to all the good that you deserve. Appreciation is the pathway to the heart. Like attracts like. It is a law of the universe. Today show your appreciation for the smallest deeds or actions of others for you. Be thankful for all of life’s gifts no matter how seemingly insignificant.

Principle Number Twelve: Let go of old baggage.

There are so many types of old baggage we carry with us that sabotages our happiness and success. There are old hurts, unkind words, unfinished acts, broken promises and fears, self-doubts and worries. These and many more like them have inflicted on us any number of bruises or scars by friends, loved ones, associates or customers. Learn to let go of all of this stuff before it suffocates you and poisons your attitudes and actions. Don’t let the sun set today without forgiving yourself of past errors or all of the people who have wronged you from the smallest slight to the greatest injustice. Forgiveness is not condoning these acts or omissions. The true purpose of forgiveness is to release you from its negative hold. Let go of all of this old baggage, whatever form it takes, before it becomes a permanent part of your outlook, attitude and behavior.

Principle Number Thirteen: Deal only in the truth.

The truth will set you free. Dealing in less than truth sets you up for a host of negative emotional issues such as guilt, resentment, blame, anger, fear, doubt and uncertainty. The truth often hurts in the present but in the long run it is the only philosophy that will ensure you have a peaceful heart and a calm and centered essence. Too often people use the excuse that dealing in truth is difficult. This may be true, but truth eventually will prevail. Why set yourself up for a life filled with games, manipulation, ego battles and eventual confrontation. Learn to tell the truth no matter how it may stretch your emotional present. In the long term, the truth will set you free from all of life’s stress and strife.

Principle Number Fourteen: You are responsible for your life.

Your life is in your hands. Life owes you nothing. Until you finally take full responsibility for the quality of your life, will you truly be happy and successful. Many people feel that others: their organization, spouse, parents, government etc. owe them happiness, success, financial freedom and a variety of other needs or desires. We fail and we blame. We have problems and we look outward for their cause. We are missing something in our lives and we look to others to fill our emptiness. We stumble and we look for someone to pick us up. My friend, your life and its outcomes are all up to you and only you. Yes, it is nice to have supportive parents, friends and employers. But in the end, your life is what you make it. Take full responsibility today for your life and its circumstances and outcomes.

Principle Number Fifteen: Love is all there is.

There are many kinds of love but the only real love is unconditional love. Conditional love says I will love ‘when; or I will love you ‘if’. Few people understand and apply the principle of unconditional love in their lives. Until you can learn to love yourself, others and your life unconditionally will you ever truly enjoy any degree of peace, inner harmony and balance in your life. Love without strings, love without barter and love without an ego centered need for others to satisfy your need for acceptance, approval and validation


1. Many associations, professional groups etc have codes of ethics or standards. For example I am a member of The National Speakers Association. We have had a code for 20 years. It is a standard of behavior. Guidelines that determine the edges of – what is acceptable performance and what is not acceptable. I know of many companies who have (internal – pertaining to employees and external – pertaining to the market place) Mission and Vision statements or Core Belief Statements. These are similar in some ways to codes of ethics but do not go far enough. They generally focus on the broader issues of customer satisfaction, growth, responsibility to the community etc. They do not, at least I have not seen one yet in the over 500 clients I have worked with, have, a set of guidelines for employee behavior for salespeople, managers, support staff etc. Yes, many do have rules, policies and procedures as required by ADA, OSHA, and other government groups, these are often just to protect the organization from a dissatisfied employee who leaves and may want to sue to an angry customer who has a warranty issue. To answer your question, in an age of rapid change, an aging population with younger employees moving ahead in the ranks quickly and the increasing cultural diversity of the workforce that it is imperative that organizations have a cod of conduct or ethics. Each employee should be aware of them and held accountable to them. If they are not held accountable, why bother to have them? These guidelines will give the employee a measuring device to determine when and where they may stray from what is acceptable, as well as give managers the ability to coach and discipline based on the same reason. It will create a corporate culture that will contribute to the behavior and attitudes of every employee. It will also create a sense of unity within the business community among customers, vendors and the media – whether local or national.

2. Yes, people today are under more stress than at any time in history due in part to the fast changes everywhere – every day – due to technology’s drive into our lives, businesses and careers. The internet for example: do the rules of communication, business, life, still hold or do we need new guidelines and if so what? This question and others are causing people to become unclear with the rules, how to interpret them, whether they apply to them or just everyone else etc. As a result, people without an internal moral compass given to them early in their life by their parents, caregivers, educators or church leaders are willing to push the edges of what is right and wrong. Is it wrong for example for an employee to steal a ream of paper form his/her employer when their employer break rules of ethics every day with customers to get out of paying a warranty claim. You see, the edges are getting fuzzy for some people. Then there are the millions of people who are now working for organizations who were not raised in this country but raised in another part of the world with a completely different standard of ethics or behavior based on their cultural background. I have observed some companies that do not deviate from their beliefs, policies etc regardless of how badly they needed the business, client or whatever. I have also seen organizations that would sell their soul to the devil for another customer or 10% more margin on a sale. I am not a moralist but I do believe that each (business or personal) of us needs to have a set of guidelines that sticks no matter what the circumstances.

3. The problem is that many people today still want to look up to, believe in, and respect their leaders. In many cases they will follow their example. Let’s say a father says to his son I don’t want you cheating in school. It’s not good for you or your future. And one day you will pay the consequences. Then the son sees the father cheating on his Income taxes. The father also says, I don’t want you to ever lie. Then wife then says, Honey its your boss on the phone and the husband says “tell him I’m not home.” So what is this kid to think after 15 or 20 years of observing this type of behavior. There are times when it is OK to lie, cheat steal and times when it isn’t ok. But what are the rules? He has do develop his own. So, example today is still a viable way to send the message that certain types of behavior on and off the job will not be tolerated. Off the job because it is a reflection of the organization that we allow people like that to represent us to you our buying customer. Next, that can institute classes, seminars, send memo’s, give public recognition to people who play by the rules. The simple issues is: you get the behavior you reward. Or to put it another way, behavior reinforced is behavior repeated. Managers need to learn to understand the significance of this simple yet profound truth regarding behavior, performance, attitudes, ethics etc.

4. If the organizational culture is to push the edges, get the business no matter what, don’t lose anything to a competitor etc etc etc. then salespeople who do not have a clear moral compass will break the rules and betray the confidence and trust of customers. I can only tell you teaching sales for over 25 years that THE critical issue in sales today is can people trust you. People do not buy from people they like, they buy from people they trust. So, whatever you do that betrays that trust – short or long term – will have a negative impact on the quality of that relationship and future business. The key is to hire ethical people.

5. Trends indicate that the next major age: i.e. industrial age, atomic age, computer age etc. is going to be the Dream Society or the togetherness age. People are tired of being disconnected from others and communicating via e mail, fax etc. Although the internet does pose tremendous opportunities to save money by shopping on line it still keeps us isolated. All indications are that we are going to want to spend more time with people we like and want to be around regardless of how we do that. Y point is that we are re-cycling back to a time when people would talk about old fashioned beliefs, values, issues. We will no longer trust the media to give us our values and beliefs (don’t know why anyone ever did anyway) and we will continue to mistrust the people we elect (Michelle……that is an entirely different article, maybe even a book) Add to this mix that we have fewer heroes today that at any time in our history. Some people can’t look up to their fathers, others to their elected officials, others to the media so who do they have left. Some people don’t have any role models today. So they have to develop their own interpretation of right and wrong. IE some of the recent killings in schools, churches etc. To conclude (finally Tim) I believe that ethics are going to be a major issue in the next several years. And, I believe those individuals and organizations who do not follow a “moral compass” will find themselves with less business, fewer good employees, less cash and fewer customers.