Happiness & Success From A 17-Year-Old
--Vishesh Gupta
3 minute read
Aug 20, 2019

At the start of the summer, 17-year-old Arnav asked how he could be of service. We didn't plan to do a summer internship, but after reading his application essay and his core value on integrity, it was too hard not to be moved to explore how we could ripple more smiles into the world together!

Over the last couple months, he interviewed everyday heroes and love warriors about their service journeys. He spent the summer experimenting with daily acts of kindness, daily stillness through meditation (or trying to :)), serving virtually with projects like KarmaTube, and diving into research on intrinsic motivations, compassion, wisdom, and happiness. On top of that, he got up at odd hours on weekends and holidays to spread smiles at local events -- like a unique conference and gardening at Banyan Grove!

All this, too, while working an engineering camp job, completing a hackathon, hosting out-of-town-family, and leading service activities for a school club. Teens these days sure have a lot going on! :)

Last weekend (the day before he started his senior year of high school!), he gave a "SpiriTED Talk" on a value that he learned this summer. He decided to talk about happiness and success. It brought big smiles to our faces -- here's the audio recording below:

And some excepts...
I realized that throughout my life there was one common thing: I'm not afraid of failure, but I'm just afraid of not trying. Because every time, like I've failed in many different things. In lots of competitions, everything I've done, there have been a lot of times when I've come up short. But the times where I've still been happiest, is when I went through the journey and I learned so much, I've made so many great friends. And, through that, I realize, I'm actually happy. It's just those times when I just don't try, I don't get anywhere, and then I'm disappointed. That is what I saw as actual failure, because I didn't get anything out of it. I didn't even get the journey.

With that, I realized being "successful" isn't even necessary for me to be happy. I went through the journey, and in the end result, maybe I didn't get those five minutes of going, "Yay, I won this" or whatever, but I was still happy because I had the journey. So it's just the journey itself that can make me happy. As long as I had that journey, I didn't need that end result of, you know, getting money or anything like that.

So then that led me to final realization of the original question: is it success and happiness or happiness and success? I realized that the answer is actually neither. It's just simply happiness. Because who needs success if you're happy? Oh, don't get me wrong, success is a big part of life, and I'm not saying you shouldn't be successful; but if you're happy, success will come to you. Because let's go back to the first metaphor, of Happiness orbiting Success. Now, let's turn that around a little bit. Let's say you're on a planet called Happiness. Now you can reach out and grab Success. Everything starts to fall in place, because if you're happy, that means life is working for you. That means success is there. You don't need to chase the success, because it will just simply come to you. As long as you're happy, your life will be fulfilled.

So that also gave me another answer to the question: "What is success to you?" My answer now has changed from just getting good grades to job, to money, to now -- my definition of success now is just to be happy, and getting the true happiness in life that I want. Thank you.

Posted by Vishesh Gupta on Aug 20, 2019

2 Past Reflections