127 Which first, success or happiness?
Seeing and wanting better
Brian Tracy was a leading motivator and trainer for at least a generation. Recently he dispatched a reflection on the people who had influenced him. When he was a high school dropout who had failed at several menial jobs, he became aware of the best-known motivators and trainers of his time. He studied them and concluded that their common characteristic was positive mental attitude, and he determined to follow in that path. That launched him on winning recognition and a huge following of admirers.
Making the choice
Brian’s story deserves careful attention. What made him recognize positive attitude, and what made him able to develop it? To be sure, he was hungry for something better than what he had. He wanted to change his circumstances. Lesser people in that condition become angry and bitter, perhaps outright obnoxious.
Like Brian, I associate with people who also want a better world than the present. They do not become angry, bitter, or obnoxious. My good fortune is to be surrounded by constructive, positive energy. I fancy that is because like attracts like, and I can identify the positive and identify with it. When choosing influencers, I, like my friends, seem to find the high road and stick to it.
There is something mysterious to all this. People often call the mystery God. I prefer to see it as a scientific investigation into truth and progress. Whatever we call it, there is something going on that transcends our explanations. Why did Brian, or I, or anyone else find and choose the high road, that is, being positive?
Article 117 asks why people choose unhappiness. The practice seems downright unthinkable. Yet people fall off the cliff every day into despair and discontent. Instead of absorbing goodness from their surroundings, they spread misery through angry agitation. They give off what they experience, disturbing the peace of those around them.
On the other hand, in this blog we assume there is always a better way and keep our minds open to finding it. Being aware of and adopting the high road comes naturally to us. One might question whether that is predestined or learned. People who move from one camp to the other feel they have learned the better way. We might allow that the capacity to learn is innate. I hope that the ability is universally present and that I can encourage it in others.
Innate capacity does not transfer from one person to another. Neither does experience. I cannot divide my happiness with you in a zero-sum exchange. Whether it is the mystery of God or of science, we humans are still learning how to influence each other. The value of that influence is as ineffable as our present question about how we come to choose the positive. As a start, I propose we look at the mix around us and observe what comes to the top. From there we will examine the process of exchange.
Nature of happiness
While happiness can be infectious, it is individually experienced within, not imposed from without. Being surrounded by happiness on the outside is not the same as being happy on the inside. At best, the good surroundings are a help.
Personal happiness is individual and idiosyncratic. It is an internally controlled perception, influenced by the outside world. It is not objectively measured but instead is intuitively sensed. It does not result invariably from experience, but it colors or filters experience. I regard happiness to be my identity: it is who I am.
The word play of article 117 accentuates the element of choice: we identify happiness of others by what we see them choose. That is where individuality is apparent, where identities are distinguished from each other. Circumstances can make life difficult, but they cannot deprive me of my being. Regardless of what is available to me, I can have my preferences.
Exchange of happiness
Spreading happiness is favorably regarded. Forcing results on others cannot be exchange of happiness. As we are using the word here, spreading happiness is radiating the positive mental attitude recommended by this article. It will always be a good thing. Therefore, we examine what is best to share.
Change is happy when it is the voluntary choice mentioned above. Stubbornly asserting a position that contradicts your listener does not attract that listener into your concept of happiness.
Broadcasting your feelings at the expense of others hurts their feelings. Crowing in happiness over the candidate who won does not comfort someone who voted for the candidate who lost. Our relationship going forward is improved as we accommodate each other’s feelings. Where our desired outcomes were opposite, we both need to adjust to new outcomes and look toward happiness in future sharing. This is very similar to the state of the child in article 117 who must find a source of happiness other than the cereal that ran out with the previous user’s serving. When my candidate loses, I am required to contribute to a good outcome working together with the candidate who won. I may try to improve the prevailing candidate, but not try to displace the winner.
Having influence requires having an audience. Especially when the message matters, being abrasive deprives you of audience. Your hope of having a positive effect depends on making even your worst critics feel better about themselves. Leading them to happiness involves kindly demonstrating more constructive perspective, making the positive viewpoint more attractive.
Success through self-assurance
You are always spreading what you are. To attract following, be likeable. Persuasive happiness is the kind that makes people want to join it. Although you cannot hand over a piece of your happiness to someone, you can give that someone a reason to feel more secure associating with you. Self-assurance is attractive when it is a model for others. This is the case when being at peace is not something you force on them but is something you make attractive to them.
We have now answered the chicken-and-egg question in today’s title. Happiness does not result after you are successful. Because it attracts the results you want, happiness is the most powerful tool you have for achieving success. Use it generously!
Brian Tracy, a leading motivator and trainer, observed that successful people had positive mental attitude. We identify the high road and identify with it. The mystery is why—the capacity to learn, which is hopefully universal. Happiness is internal, intuitively sensed. Being abrasive deprives you of audience. Leading people to happiness is making the positive viewpoint more attractive, being likeable, modeling self-assurance in an assuring way. Happiness comes first; it is the most powerful tool you have for achieving success.