The fundamental goal of many people's lives is to be happy. It's what we all want. We say to each other, "My goal in life is to be happy." It's a wonderful goal, but it assumes that happiness is a destination. Somewhere you eventually work to get to. That's the culture that we're in now. We push happiness farther and farther into the distance so that we can work now, in unhappiness, and later we can stop working and we will be happy with ourselves. It's ridiculous, isn't it?
To explain that further, we all assume that happiness comes after success. We define our success in terms of material things. We say things like "I know I'll be successful when I have a big house, a few nice cars, and I made several hundred thousand dollars per year, and I can vacation to exotic places whenever I wish. Once I reach that, I'll be happy." That's wrong, plain and simple. When you push your happiness further and further away into your future so you can focus on your "success" now, you're more likely to make choices that push the happiness even further away from you. For example, to be able to make several hundred thousand dollars per year, you're more likely to spend more of your time at work, doing overtime, such that you can prove to your bosses that you're a hard and dedicated employee that hopes to one day be promoted. And while you're spending all your time working hard, your family and friends are at home without you. You're sacrificing too much too soon for an arbitrary definition of success and happiness. Do you see the flaws in that mindset?
All successful people are happy, and they're successful because they're happy. But we see happy successful people and think "Well they must be happy because they're successful, and I'm not as successful as them, therefore I can't be happy." Again, that's the wrong way to think.
How can you fix it? How can you bring yourself to realize that that's not the right way to live? Your thinking needs to change. You've got to see happiness as a journey instead of a destination. Where you currently think that happiness comes after success, you need to realize that happiness comes before success.
Happiness is a journey. It's a series of choices you make every day. It's loving yourself and doing things that are good for yourself. To be happy, you've got to just be happy every day. Don't sweat the small things by growing your confidence. Develop mental strength by meditating and understanding that you can't control everything that happens to you. Immerse yourself in something every day. Get into "the zone" or a state of "flow", where the world seems to melt away and the only thing that matters is you and whatever you're working on. Spend time with those you love and actively work to improve aspects of your life. Happiness is really that simple. It's making a choice every day to love yourself. That's the easiest way to consider yourself successful.
There are so many different definitions of success. To some it can be being rich with many possessions, to others it could be having a family, or graduating college, or writing a book, or benching 250 lbs. Success is arbitrary because it's personal. What one person considers successful may not be what another person does. The point is to figure out how you define success and go and get it, regardless of what others think.