Success in Life
Dr. Jonathan Haverkampf, M.D.
Happiness generates Success
Do we need unhappiness to be successful in creative? The answer must be a resounding no. The reason we strive for success, are motivated and work towards a goal is because these things are meaningful to us a promise positive feelings either shortly or in the more distant future. Feeling good does not reduce the drive to do things, it rather heightens it, because we become less anxious and distracted by negative feelings. The important point is to find out what one values and is interested in, wants and needs. These parameters determine what one is striving for.
As a positive emotion, happiness can help to make success easier. People become more open and flexible when they are happy. When we have negative thoughts, we become more narrow-minded, more easily distracted and made anxious, and easily lose sight of the things that can potentially motivate us.
Radiating contentment and happiness tells a love interest or a business partner that we are on a good path, which makes these encounters more rewarding for everyone involved. It also helps form bonds and relationships with other people.
Happiness as an Emotion
Happiness is an emotion we often feel when we are engaged in something that is meaningful and valuable to us. When we are engaged in something that is meaningful, that contains the promise of something novel that can change us, we feel happiness. Whether solving a science problem, observing another person, having sex or talking to someone else, we are engaged in processes that produce new meaning, new information, and often a sense of happiness. Communication with oneself and others, the exchange of meaningful information, is ultimately what leads to more meaning and greater happiness.
Values, Wants and Needs
One’s values and basic interests determine what is valuable to oneself. Happiness requires that one engages in an activity that is meaningful and of value to oneself. Engaging in these activities and situations brings more positive emotions, happiness, and a greater sense of fulfilment in life. Wants and Needs that create greater happiness have to be in sync with one’s values.
The Call of Happiness
Almost everyone strives for happiness in life, and the pursuit of happiness is enshrined in the US constitution and many other important documents, but many people feel it is beyond their reach. Some may suffer from a mental health condition like depression, which reduces the amplitude of one’s felt emotions overall, including happiness, and may require treatment. A larger problem is possibly missing direction in life and decision-making, which often is a result of being disconnected from oneself. If one feels what is valuable and meaningful to oneself, this leads to actions and thoughts that generate greater happiness.
The Search for Things that Make Happy
Happiness begins with finding out what makes one happy. This does not have to be anything external. It can be things to think about or something interesting to read. It can also be meditation in silence. Many people feel the pressure from what they think the world expects of them. Simply internalizing external expectations will not bring happiness. My thoughts and actions have to make sense in relation to how I see myself and what I value. This self-image can be affected by mental health conditions like depression, but one’s basic values seldom are.
The Stability of the Self and One’s Values
Our values are mostly stable over time, but meaning depends on the information we exchange with our environment, which again depends on how we communicate with ourselves and others. One can be happy in solitude, but this happiness depends on how I communicate with myself and the non-human world around me and on my interactions with the world when I am with others. Most people do need companionship once in a while.
Connecting the Inside and the Outside
Happiness is when we are connected to the inside and outside world, when we can communicate freely with both. Fears prohibit us from getting in touch with ourselves and others to the extent that can bring about happiness. Happiness is when an organization strives to be optimally adapted to itself and the environment, when it is changed by it and can change it in beneficial ways. This does not require great activity for humans. Even sitting in one’s chair at home can bring about happiness, when we feel ourselves and the world around us. Everything contains information, a tree and even a stone. Humans on the other hand are great information processing systems and we send and receive information all the time. Happiness as an emotion is also a consequence of how we process information, of how we think, which is one reason why we need to take stock of how we process information on the inside (think) and how we process information on the outside (interact with others). Happiness thus depends to a great extent on how we arrange our surroundings and ourselves in these surroundings.
Values and Meaning lead to Greater Happiness
Focusing on one’s values and finding meaning in things leads to greater happiness. This does not have to be time consuming. It just requires doing what feels important, which can be a radically new way of doing things.
Success as Practiced Happiness
Life has its ups and downs and one does not feel happy all the time, but heading for the things that are meaningful to oneself, implementing ideas and thoughts that are relevant and have a close association with one’s values and basic wants and needs, leads to greater happiness and more success in life.
Dr Jonathan Haverkampf, M.D. trained in medicine, psychiatry and psychotherapy and works in private practice for psychotherapy, counselling and psychiatric medication in Dublin, Ireland. The author can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the websites www.jonathanhaverkampf.com and www.jonathanhaverkampf.ie.
This article is solely a basis for academic discussion and no medical advice can be given in this article, nor should anything herein be construed as advice. Always consult a professional if you believe you might suffer from a physical or mental health condition. Trademarks belong to their respective owners. No checks have been made.