The Success Addiction

A friend sent me the most fascinating article about the addiction of chasing our view of success without regard to finding happiness. We have heard this from the perspective of the person whose misplaced priorities sacrifice the truly important things in life while chasing further success. The writer considered a new perspective. The common denominator is becoming addicted to chasing success by developing an addictive relationship with the chase. The praise, adulation or satisfaction received creates the desire for more of the same. To the success addict, these feelings are more rewarding than the simple joys of experiencing “happiness” along the way. It’s an interesting explanation for why those driven to succeed invariably chose to do what feeds their view of success and why, regardless of what they succeed in doing, they remain unhappy and envious of those perceived as having more “success” than themselves.

It occurred to me many wonderful, gifted athletes, including cyclists, can become unbalanced by constantly chasing more miles and higher speeds. Clearly, these are terrific goals each of us pursues at our own level. The question arises when does one cross the line of becoming addicted to the chase and never reaching the goal that brings happiness because someone else has achieved something more. How much of a happy life with those we love is sacrificed along the way by someone addicted to the chase of greater “success” and never finding it in their own eyes?

He cited a famous study in the 1980’s that half of aspiring athletes would take a pill that would kill them in 5 years if it would first allow them to win every contest they entered in their sport. That is pretty amazing. In their eyes this makes them attractive to others until their lives fall apart around them.

Clearly, there is nothing wrong with success. However, it is never a substitute for the things that bring peace, joy, happiness and fulfillment to our lives. These things focus on relationships and spending time and enjoying those we love.

Source: The Atlantic, July 20, 2020 “Success Addicts Choose Being Special Over Being Happy” by Arthur C. Brooks.


Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.
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