Only, there's a problem with that.
Success seems to be quite narrowly defined (and not a little gendered). Women are considered successful one of two ways; they are a top-earning power figure (lawyer, banker, CEO or some such nonsense) or they are a mother. Most often, they're not a success unless their both.
Men tend to be seen as successes if they're a top-earning power figure of some kind in whatever field they like.
But does that immediately bring them happiness?
My observations is that no, it does not.
For some it does. For some they've worked their arses off to get what they wanted and they couldn't be more thrilled with where they ended up. For others, though, it has been a long, slow, painful realisation that everything they've worked so hard for and spent so much money on, all the "success" they've had, is nothing but an empty promise. They're not happy. They've done a lot of work, gotten all the things, and... turns out that what their families wanted, or society wanted. It wasn't what they wanted.
If happiness is to be the marker of success, then we all need to take a step back and reevaluate what we mean by success.
If success is what engenders happiness, then we still need to take a step back and reevaluate what we mean by success.
And we certainly need to stop looking down our noses at people whose version of success and happiness do not line up with our own.
For some people, success is finding a partner, settling down and raising a family. There lies their joy. For others, it's claiming their place in the job of their dreams. For others, success is a hot cup of tea in the morning, and pottering around the garden for a bit (which requires being in a position to do so, obviously).
I think more and more people are starting to realise this. They are less and less likely to measure success in dollar bills or the value of their assets. Fewer people are willing to postpone their current happiness for vague, empty promises of happiness in the future; promises which we've all observed to be largely false.
Most of us aren't falling for that shtick anymore
*Cue idiotic articles about how Millennials refuse to work obscene hours and brave through workplace abuse and how that makes them the literal worst*
Anyway, the point is, we often mistake societal ideas of "success" to equate instant happiness once they're achieved. We pursue "success" because we're told success is happiness, only to find that this isn't the case. Or rather, what was once defined as success is actually just empty promises.
The cake is a lie.
You could, conceivably work a menial job, the kind of job most people would look down on (serving fast food, for example), and be perfectly content. While many wouldn't judge a job at McDonald's a success, the worker might be thrilled at the flexible hours, which gives them time to spend with loved ones, or painting, or something (I don't fucking know). They might get a great deal of satisfaction knowing they served someone food that was, if not healthy, at least enjoyable.
At least, it would be conceivable if people stopped believing that these kinds of jobs and the people who work them are beneath human dignity and far beneath worthy of a living wage.
Sorry, got righteously side-tracked.
There seems to me to be a lot of pressure to be successful, but the definition of success is extremely narrow. Humanity is incredibly varied. Our dreams, desires, loves, interests... they are all so very different. Success, you would think, would be as well.
Here's some life advice from someone who is far too young to be giving life advice:
Fuck what everyone else is telling you. If being a stay at home father is your version of happiness, if raising a well-adjusted, good-hearted person is your idea of success, you do that.
If all you want to do with your life is paint, and you have a crappy job, but it pays enough to cover your bills and buy your paints and canvases, you do that. Your goal was to paint. You are painting. Congratulations, you are a success!
And with that, I have to ask, where is your happiness? What is your idea of success?
For me, it would be my being able to support myself solely with my writing. It would be travelling the world on book tours, meeting readers, and making guest appearances at conventions. I would die of success overload if I could be considered a peer of the great genre writers of the past and present.