Updated: Nov 8, 2019
“You gotta keep livin’ man. L-I-V-I-N”
Wooderson | Dazed and Confused
Wooderson, the iconic, scene-stealing character played by Matthew McConaughey in the classic coming-of-age film, Dazed and Confused, existed in a state of perpetual (though likely chemically-induced) happiness. His timeless portrayal of a man trapped in his youth and eternally happy is the polar opposite of the insightful speech McConaughey delivered to the graduates at the University of Houston years later on why you’re not happy.
From McConaughey’s message:
“Happiness is an emotional response to an outcome. If I win, I will be happy, If I don’t, I won’t. It’s an if/then, cause and effect, quid pro quo standard that we cannot sustain because we immediately raise it every time we attain it. Happiness demands a certain outcome. It is result reliant…Joy, though…. Joy is a different thing. Joy is not a choice. It’s not a response to some result. It’s a constant. Joy is the feeling that we have when we are doing what we are fashioned to do, no matter the outcome.”
The dichotomy between Wooderson (the character) and McConaughey (the man) is striking. His graduation message posits that to be truly fulfilled, joy must not only precede happiness but also that finding joy in the ever-present leads to more happiness. Not only that, but the process can be joyful when we pursue versions of success that are defined by us, engage in what we are meant to do, and ensure that what occurs within the process does not “jeopardize your soul”.
In this Ted Talk, Shawn Achor, the founder of Goodthink and a leading voice in positive psychology suggests that as a society, we have pushed happiness over the cognitive horizon. Most companies and people follow a similar formula for success:
“If I work harder, I’ll be more successful, then I’ll be happier.”
This mindset is flawed for many reasons, chief among them is that every time your brain has success you have effectively changed your definition for “success”. In that never-ending loop, happiness lives on the opposite side of success, causing you to chase a goal that keeps getting further away.
If we combine the more evolved thoughts of Wooderson with those of Shawn Achor, we find a new, more powerful, and more actionable process:
“Joy leads to happiness, happiness leads to success.”
So, what is the roadmap that takes us from Joy to Happiness, and ultimately to Success? As McConaughey theorizes, keenly understanding your values leads to deep engagement in what we are “fashioned to do”. To help you start, our team has launched an online course to take you through the process, beginning with an exploration of your values. From there, we can create a pathway that is more likely to create happiness, and therefore more likely to lead to success. I hope you take the time to register and complete the course.
Have you signed up yet? It’d be a lot cooler if you did.