Success: the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself

Success: the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself

People who learn to control inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as any of us can come to being happy. Yet we cannot reach happiness by consciously searching for it. “Ask yourself whether you are happy,” said J. S. Mill, “and you cease to be so.” It is by being fully involved with every detail of our lives, whether good or bad, that we find happiness, not by trying to look for it directly. Viktor Frankl, the Austrian psychologist, summarized it beautifully in the preface to his book Man’s Search for Meaning: “Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue… as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself.” So how can we reach this elusive goal that cannot be attained by a direct route? My studies of the past quarter-century have convinced me that there is a way. It is a circuitous path that begins with achieving control over the contents of our consciousness.”

Source: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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