Why ‘success, like happiness, cannot be pursued.’


Insightful post from Jonathan Fields on the right and wrong reasons for dreaming of becoming a writer/actor/fill in the blank…

Here’s a sneak peek:

“Scenario #1:

Hey, why are you writing a book?

Because, I want to get published. Then people will take me seriously. Millions of people will know what I’ve got to say. And they’ll see I’m an author. And I’ll build a huge career writing and speaking and traveling…

And, what if you write the whole book and nobody wants it?

Well, um, uh, then it’ll have been a year out of my life that I can’t get back. A massive letdown. Think of all the other stuff I could’ve done…

Scenario #2:

Hey, why are you writing a book?

Because, I’m a writer. I feel like that’s what I’m here to do. When I write, I feel. I light up. It’s like I’m doing what I was put here to do. Not all the time, but often enough to make me want to keep coming back and doing more of it. I feel a sense of alignment and purpose. And, besides, I’m pretty fascinated by this topic/story line and it’d be amazing to be able to spent a year doing a really deep dive on it and learning more. …”

Here’s the rest of Jonathan’s article, “Do It Because It’s What You’re Here To Do”. 

By the way, Jonathan is one of the world great mensches — he’s worth following!

What do you think? Does this resonate for you?

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Article Source: JonathanFields.com

More like this: Work and Career



  1. Rick Williams on 09.11.2013 at 08:03 (Reply)


    The past 30 months have been most challenging, and most rewarding. This is due to the fact of actually opening my brain and accepting that each day brings new wonder. That “new wonder” may not always be “good”, but I find now that I’m consistently curious and interested in learning and moving forward.

    I’ve used new skills to forge a path into a new career (yet still familiar!). Me re-engaging my brain and finding that I feel such “light” when I’m curious and interested….well, my interesting life continues to ensue…

    “Quiet” moved me deeply. Thank you for writing it :)

  2. Rich Day on 09.11.2013 at 14:32 (Reply)

    What Jonathan Fields writes above is so true, that the pursuit of happiness (or success) can cause the very thing we seek to allude us.

    So long ago it seems like a life time ago, I was a minister (are you surprised?) and one of my sermons was on the following verse, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled” Now for the unreligious among us, let me just say I am also unreligious, and I do realize that the word “righteousness” is not a word we use these days. But consider that the word “blessed” means happy, and the word “righteousness” means “to be in right relationship” and suddenly this verse speaks to all of us about the use of our talents and our motivations and ultimately whether in the end we will be happy. No matter who we are, no matter if we write, or act, or whatever, it turns out that to understand what it means to be a self encountered by other selves, an “I am” among another “I am’s” has everything to do with whether we will be happy in the end.

  3. JKS on 11.11.2013 at 21:36 (Reply)

    The sentiment behind the quote and some of the ideas by Jonathan Fields reminded me of a story called Rasselas by Samuel Johnson.

    In this tale, a young prince and princess leave ‘happy valley’ in search of their own happiness…their own choice of life. It might be an insightful read for those interested in this topic. It can be read in little bits if you don’t feel like reading the whole thing. The similarities and differences between life then and now might also be food for thought.

    Finding purpose in life, using your talents or abilities, and helping others in some way I think would be key to most of us….but chasing happiness is a bit like chasing the wind.

  4. Red Dog on 25.11.2013 at 10:50 (Reply)

    The premise heading this thread, that “success, like happiness, cannot be pursued” is entirely backwards.

    America is built upon the “pursuit of happiness” and what follows is the pursuit of success. The usefulness of that premise is one of motivating people to better themselves and to foster achievement. That in itself is not a bad thing. To live in a society where happiness and success could not be pursued would be a very depressing, bleak existence, indeed.

    Both happiness and success are relentlessly pursued - and are elusive by their very nature.

    Happiness is a chimera. It is ultimately unattainable, for when we get whatever it is that we think will make us “happy”, we then desire more. It’s never enough. It’s a vicious cycle. That’s part of our human condition. Desire is related to compulsiveness. Satiation is not promoted; certainly not by our consumer driven economy which depends upon producing and selling products and services. It is regarded as being counter-productive to society.

    About a month ago, long before reading this thread, in contemplating this I wrote the following words and pinned them above my desk: Happiness is UNATTAINABLE. Satisfaction IS attainable.

    To me, the fine distinction between the two terms is all important.

  5. Jimmy Nguyen on 21.01.2014 at 21:14 (Reply)

    Hi Mrs. Cain,

    I enjoy Dr. Wooden’s definition of success.

    Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.

    For me, the journey matters most and pursuing the effort and process is much more fulfilling than a result.


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Quiet: The Book

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QUIET has been voted the best nonfiction book of 2012
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1. There’s a word for “people who are in their heads too much”: thinkers.

2. Our culture rightly admires risk-takers, but we need our “heed-takers” more than ever.

3. Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.

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