Are we wired to seek success?
Are our brains programmed to achieve? It turns out they may be.
Dr. Srikumar S. Rao is an expert on success and happiness and the author of Happiness at Work: Be Resilient, Motivated and Successful—No Matter What, in which he writes:
When you get what you want—what you have striven mightily for—there is a thrill of satisfaction. For a moment you are on a peak, and the vista is gorgeous. You feel like an emperor. This euphoria does not last. There is always another thing that you suddenly need. And another. And another.
Rao writes that underneath this need to achieve is the fact that most people are not happy, even those who appear to have it all. Instead, they are plagued by anxiety and stress. Never-ending to-do lists and a constant feeling that there is too much to do and not enough time to do it rule their lives.
Rao suggests that happiness is in fact our innate nature but we have spent our entire lives learning to be unhappy.
We have been conditioned to believe that we have to be, do, or have more to be happy. So naturally we keep striving for more.
If I Get This, Then I’ll Be Happy
Rao writes that this if-then mentality (if I get this, then I’ll be happy) prevents us from experiencing our innate happiness. The more we get caught up in the if-then model, the more happiness eludes us.
Rao doesn’t advocate that we stop setting goals or striving for more. He simply advises us to acknowledge that our success or failure has no bearing whatsoever on our well-being.
Adapted from “Breaking the Spell: The Truth about Money, Success, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”