THE IRONY OF SUCCESS
There may be those reading this chapter who have noticed a bit of a contradiction between what has been said here and what was said regarding happiness and success in the previous volume on happiness research.
To be more specific, here we have suggested that happy people are not particularly strong in their need for success — that their expectations and aspirations are lower than unhappier people. Yet if you recall, in Volume I we covered a wealth of research findings which indicated that happy people tend to be more successful than unhappy people are.
On the surface it would appear as if we have quite a contradiction on our hands. How can people who have a lower need for success end up being more successful? Can both these things be true at once?
Well, in fact they are. Both are true, according to the research. Indeed, this fact is one of what I have labeled the “happiness ironies” (videos). We’ll run into a few other “ironies” in later chapters, but for now, this irony is:
“Happy people are more successful, though their desire for it is less.”
How in the world does this happen? How do happy individuals end being so successful, when they were never all that concerned about it? Well, the answers lie in a closer analysis of what it’s like to feel really happy.