Happiness = Success

People will tell you the key to success is simple.

Take 18 credits, get a 4.0 GPA, join every club…better yet, run every club, work both internships and jobs, volunteer, study abroad, be top 15%…no actually top 5%, attend every class, study for graduate school, be friends with everyone, find a passion, find a partner, and make everyone proud.

Inspirational orientation speakers fill freshmen’s first days on campus discussing how their college years were spent grinding with the same intensity listed above. The end of their story is always the same. “If you follow these simple steps, you too can be successful.”

So, with the code right in front of me, I choose to follow the path my predecessors set.

Day in, day out. My life was a grind. Was it worth it? Well of course, I was going to be successful…wasn’t I?

The thing they don’t tell you about this path to success is that it isn’t realistic. The moment you think you got a handle on it, it all crumbles in front of you. And you can’t help but blame yourself, “What am I doing wrong?”

This is the question every inspirational orientation speaker forgets to answer, because they have forgotten what success is all about: finding happiness.

This was probably the hardest thing I’ve had to learn in college. Success is not defined by a GPA or resume nor by a graduate school application, letter of recommendation or internship. But rather, success is defined by following the things that make you happiest in life.

Whether that is teaching Zumba, traveling the world, creating art, managing marketing campaigns, registering people to vote, editing, making music, coaching or processing tax returns …doing what makes you happy is the greatest success in life. Forbes’ Nick Bennett takes this as far to say that “neuroscience has proven happiness precedes success.”

So, next time your path seems to crumble, ask yourself, “What makes me happiest?” And I promise, you’ll find the key to success.

Ally Hecht is a Morningside College junior majoring in Gender and Legal Studies with minors in Sociology, Philosophy, & Political Science.