Redefining Success/Happiness

The two winners of the Goodreads Giveaway of The Power of Harmony are from Alaska and New York – Red Deer will be mailing their copies out this week:) Thanks to the 431 people who entered (and I hope a few of those people will read it even though they didn’t win:)
successLove this illustration of “Success” – there’s no straight line about it, I do know that. The other day I was asked by a student to give a “TEDx” sort of talk on the topic of “redefining success”; in other words, I wasn’t supposed to talk about writing, but rather give my opinion on that specific topic, in under 18 minutes. Very interesting … I’m not actually able to do it as I’ll be away for a week in November, but it’s given me something to think about this week.

I’ve been working so hard on my writing lately that I have an injury – my right baby finger aches all the time, from all that punctuating and “entering/returning”. So is success being  crazy busy all the time doing something you love? Sort of …

Then I came upon this quote, which made me pause and reconsider. Am I chasing happiness when I’m writing, or am I just being happy? Is there a difference? For sure sometimes I feel like I spend far too much time at my laptop, and when I’m in the middle of “make believe” (thanks, Laura Best), I have to force myself to go outside, take a few deep breaths and enjoy the crisp sunshiny days we’ve had this fall. Charlie totally appreciates this and watching her wag and romp and run definitely makes me smile (unless it involves fresh cow plops). But so does finding the (for the moment) perfect words to express whatever’s going on in the story I’m writing.

happinessSo, what do you think? How do you define success? Happiness?  Is chasing happiness the same as just being happy?

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About janlcoates

I'm a Nova Scotia children's author. My first picture book, "Rainbows in the Dark", was published in 2005, by Second Story Press. My young adult novel, "A Hare in the Elephant's Trunk" was published in the fall of 2010, by Red Deer Press.
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8 Responses to Redefining Success/Happiness

  1. Laura Best says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever “chased happiness.” I wouldn’t know how. Most times I just feel it’s there even amidst the chaos that shows up in our lives from time to time. A choice we have every day to either be happy or unhappy. I sometimes wonder if it’s the writing that makes me happiest or the story once it’s written, that feeling of accomplishment that comes at the end of a very long haul. Defining success would probably take me some time to pin down. I think it’s a very individual thing. We all have such different ideas, different expectations. There are just too many ways to define success, Jan., but I’m inclined to think that if we can take words, make them into a story that touches even one heart, then success is truly ours….. Oh, and I wouldn’t mind a million dollar book contract either. ;) Great post!

    • janlcoates says:

      Ah, the elusive million dollar book contract … Maybe we’ll both feel truly successful and crazy happy once we get that signed:) And you do usually seem to see the brighter side of things which is why you’re always smiling, I suppose. Let me know when you have a day off!

  2. Darlene says:

    I love the top illustration and have used it in my goal setting workshops. There is no such thing as a staight line to success. I also don’t believe that success and happiness are the same thing (Look at how many successful people are very unhappy ie actors, musicians, sports personaities etc) Studies have shown that some of the poorest people in the world are the happiest. I love the bottom quote as well. I need to remind myself of that actually. Here in North America we have to redefine happiness and stop equating it to success. A great post Jan.

    • janlcoates says:

      Isn’t that weird the way success and happiness have become all mixed up in people’s minds? Success is such a bizarre subjective word, really; maybe it’s become so overused that we should just ban it completely. I just finished a solid five-hour writing session, and I’ve gotta admit, writing still makes me feel pretty happy, especially when I’m fine-tuning with the help of an editor:)

  3. Leandra says:

    A very thoughtful post. I’ve been having to remind myself to be thankful and happy for the here and now, rather than constantly imagine how life could be if I were to ever be published. My fav daydream is to think that it might allow be to be a stay at home mom, though I know it’s unrealistic… But hey, at least I’m daydreaming about spending more time w/my child and not buying a yacht, right? Lol!

    • janlcoates says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Leandra. When my kids were little, I ended up designing/creating toddlers’ clothes – for 15 years! Just so I could stay at home with them. And I was always a lousy Home-Ec student! Are you writing for kids? Daydreaming about spending more time with your own kids is a really worthwhile ambition – hope you get a chance to realize it!

  4. mirkabreen says:

    To me- successful people are, above all, functional and productive. The portrait of the tortured if fascinating artist never struck me as one of a successful person, no matter how much the world lauds them.
    But whatever it means to you is fine with me. Being a success in one’s own mind is as good as any definition of this notion, because in concrete terms there’s always “more.”

  5. janlcoates says:

    Hi, Mirka – thanks for chiming in. Maybe you can consider yourself “successful” when you get a deep sense of satisfaction from whatever it is you’re doing. For sure the feeling of being completely satisfied with whatever I’m writing, when I know it’s the best I can do, makes me happy. But there’s always the next project …

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