Happy Quote Sunday


Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.  — Herman Cain

There are a lot of interpretations of this quote, and many reactions to it based on the politics of its speaker, which I feel are irrelevant to its meaning.

Here is my thought:  This quote is not saying that if you do what you love, you will find the kind of success that society generally measures — financial reward, advancement etc.  Instead, it redefines success as getting to do what you love with your life.

I was a securities lawyer and an investment banker.  My income was insane and I hated my life.  When I decided to do what would make me happy (write movies and TV shows), my income dropped precipitously and I never looked back.  I have never earned in a single year as a writer what I would be earning right now if I’d stayed with investment banking for the last 13 years.  I have to live with that, and all it implies about my lifestyle, but having a happy career has also enabled a happy marriage and enough spillover happiness to write a book about it.  That alone, finances aside, makes me successful.  That’s what today’s Happy Quote means to me, as I share it with you.

Hope you are having a happy life, and thus, by my definition, a successful one.


5 thoughts on “Happy Quote Sunday

  • chrismcmullen

    Spending 40+ hours per week (or less, perhaps) doing what you enjoy versus doing something you don’t enjoy, over the course of several decades… what a market difference that can make over the course of one’s life. So if you do what you’re happy doing, that’s a huge reward in itself.

    I strongly regret that when you generally take an economics course, everything is measured in dollars. There are many costs and benefits that you can’t express with $ signs, which are often just as (if not more) important than the number of dollars. Of course, they focus on the dollars because it’s so much easier to quantify. But I wish they would integrate considerations of the qualitative factors in the curriculum and emphasize its importance much more. (Well, I guess some people would just ignore that part anyway…)

    • speakhappiness

      It really is quantifiable with money though, if people need to look at it that way (can you tell I have a masters in econ from Berkeley?) If I had stayed with i-banking, I’d be earning about $3 million a year or more by now (my contemporaries are in that range). Someday, I might make that as a screenwriter or author, but it’s nowhere close to that currently, so I can tell myself that my happiness is worth more to me than $3 million. If you offered me that amount to live my current life, I’d take it in a heartbeat. But if you offered me that to go back to Wall Street, but required a five or ten year commitment, there’s no way. (I might be tempted to do it for a year, though 🙂 ). I think the sad part is that externally, it’s hard to convince people you are successful merely by virtue of being happy. I know a lot of (very) struggling actors who I regard as 100 times more successful than some of the lawyers and bankers I used to work with, even though most of society wouldn’t see it that way.

  • Writer / Mummy

    Hubbie and I needed to hear this today, thank you! We’re trying to find a way to feed the kids and pursue a meaningful career – the two are currently mutually exclusive but we’re working on it! 🙂
    P.S. I recommended your book to my sister today, and she was stoked to find she could borrow it on kindle prime! Hurrah! 🙂

    • speakhappiness

      I’m so glad this hit the right spot at the right time, and know that you will soon find what you need to make it all work. Thanks for recommending the book to your sister. I love Kindle borrows! Can’t wait to hear what she thinks and (hopefully) read her review.

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