Happiness begets success

Success may not bring happiness, but happiness always leads to success

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful”
—Albert Schweitzer

woman paintingAlbert Schweitzer [14 January 1875 – 4 September 1965] was a German-French theologian, musician, philosopher, and physician. He received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for his philosophy of ‘Reverence for Life’. He is the founder of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambarene, now in Gabon, west central Africa [then French Equatorial Africa].

My Interpretation

There are two powerful thoughts in this quote. The first destroys the widespread misconception that success is necessary for happiness [it isn’t, even though it appears to be that way]. This is evident from observing the world around us. All people who are ‘successful’ in the traditional sense of the word, are not necessarily happy. That’s because we tend to equate success with wealth, fame, power and other worldly stuff.

Schweitzer turns around the popular misconception on its head when he says that success, far from being the key to happiness, is an outcome of being happy. Happy people are always successful, though their success may not be in areas of wealth, fame or power.

Schweitzer goes on to add that when you do what you love doing, success is inevitable. There are two interpretations of this second part of the quote, both equally valid and powerful.

First: Schweitzer believes that success is about being happy in doing what you do. You can be a successful housewife if that is what you love doing. On the other hand, if you’re an extremely ‘successful’ lawyer or doctor, but you’re not happy, then are you really successful?Second: when you do what you love doing, then you are bound to succeed because you will do it more passionately and be happy doing it.

In the ultimate analysis, Schweitzer wants us to know that it is happiness that is a pre-requisite for success, not the other way around.

Magnifying lens over an exclamation markSpot an error in this article? A typo maybe? Or an incorrect source? Let us know!

Manoj Khatri
Manoj Khatri considers himself a student and teacher of the wisdom of love. He is also a writer-editor and has written on topics ranging from strategic marketing and business management to art, culture and even philosophy. His more than 1200 published stories—articles, interviews, full-length features—have appeared in some of the leading newspapers and magazines of India. A certified cognitive behavioural therapist, he works as a personal counsellor too. He is the author of What a thought!, a critically acclaimed book based on powerful ideas of some of the greatest thought leaders. Manoj runs Complete Wellbeing and believes that "peace begins with me".

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