Is a successful developer happy? Or is a happy dev successful?

The chicken or egg kind of question.

Unlocking tech talent stories

February 17, 2022

The debate about whether success creates happiness or happiness is a consequence of success is far from new. A lot of people have the tendency to confuse both of these terms and no one can really answer with confidence how they correlate with each other. 

Some may say that once you achieve success you become happy (or happier?)–but what is success? How can you define success? And, more importantly, how do you define happiness? 

Defining happiness

It’s no surprise to see that the dictionary definition of happiness is “the quality or state of being happy”. And the definition of happy? “Delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing”–a set of feelings. It’s incredibly hard to define with 100% accuracy what happiness really is.

The notion that happiness will follow success is narrow minded. In fact, for many of us, happiness is something we aspire to achieve. Humans were wired for survival, not for happiness, and yet we spend most of our lives chasing happiness (some of us never quite getting there). 

The thing is: happiness isn’t a destination, it’s a state of mind. Sonja Lyubomirsky PhD. has been studying happiness for almost two decades and her research has been laying ground on what we think happiness is and how we can increase it. In her book The Happiness Diet, she states that it may actually be within our power to control 40% of our happiness. 

Defining success

Defining success isn’t short of challenging either. A dictionary definition would be:

The attainment of wealth, position, honours, or the like.

But doesn’t this definition seem like it falls short? Success cannot be linked solely to financial achievement or title, you can feel successful in so many other areas of life like health, love, relationships, and more.

My favourite definition of success may actually be Stephen R. Covey’s in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change”:

If you carefully consider what you wanted to be said of you in the funeral experience, you will find your definition of success.

How do they correlate?

In one of her researches, Lyubomirsky analysed 225 studies and found that it’s actually happiness that leads to success.

And while it’s true that happiness is mostly about lifestyle choices and mindset, it’s too conservative to dismiss the fact that both have a tight relationship. 

While we may not know exactly which one is more important, we know for sure that they’re inextricably linked. Happiness affects your level of success and your level of success affects your happiness.

And happiness works in a self-reinforcing feedback loop: being happy in work will potentiate you success in work, and if you’re more successful, you’re happier.

Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get.– Ingrid Bergman

When it comes to tech talent, a study has shown that the happiest software developers are significantly better analytical problem solvers (Graziotin D, Wang X, Abrahamsson P. 2014. Happy software developers solve problems better: psychological measurements in empirical software engineering). 

Happy tech professionals are better team players, write better code and contribute to a better work environment. 

So what now?

At Landing.Jobs we take happiness seriously. We acknowledge the fact that happiness plays a huge role in a tech professional’s career and their feeling of success. 

Although status and money are not what ultimately lead to happiness (otherwise wouldn’t all billionaires be the happiest people in the world?), where you work matters. Your work-life balance, company culture, how you get along with your teammates, how much you actually enjoy what you do–those are all things that positively affect your happiness. 

If you think about how many years each of us are probably going to live and how time seems to fly, you start to seriously question what you’re doing with your life and if you’re taking full advantage of it. 

We want to help you be happier with your job. We want to find you the thing that feels right, that won’t make you miserable every day and that won’t give you anxiety at night because the next morning you’re at it again. We want to make you feel like you’re living your life. We want you to be proud of how you’re investing your time.

Because your next job can and should make you feel happy. Start by finding out how happy you are with your career here.

Related article: 4 signs your need to quit your job

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