The realization struck me as I was listening to Darryl "DMC" McDaniels of Run-DMC tell the story of when he sat in his hotel room while on tour and thought about killing himself.
McDaniels thought back over his life and his runaway success and realized that he still wasn't happy.
Many of us go through life dreaming about being rich and famous. Maybe we think that next company will get acquired. Maybe we're secretly practicing for the next round of American Idol tryouts. But as fruitless as those dreams might be, they still give us hope.
We believe that special something might be around the corner, might be able to change everything.
But the rich and famous don't have that luxury. They already have the worldly success that so many of us think will make us happy. And they've discovered that it doesn't.
At that point, there are only two conclusions they can draw.
One, having achieved all the worldly success they ever wanted to achieve without achieving happiness and satisfaction, they conclude that nothing will ever make them happy. In response, they seek oblivion in drugs or death.
Two, having achieved all the worldly success they ever wanted to achieve without achieving happiness and satisfaction, they conclude that worldly success doesn't bring happiness and satisfaction, and that they need to seek true happiness in other ways.
We often think that the rich and famous are lucky, and we envy them their worldly success. But that same success leaves them no excuse for being unhappy. There are many cautionary tales of celebrities, especially those who achieved their fame young, who never managed to get past their moment of truth.
But whether you're rich and famous or poor and obscure, remember one fact--extrinsic motivators like fame and fortune don't make you happy. In fact, they make you unhappy even if you achieve them. Focus instead on the things that really matter--intrinsic motivators like relationships, growth, and giving back.