Art And Culture

Happiness Versus Elation: A How To Guide To Achieving Peace and Fulfillment At Home and Work

Stephen D'Angelo
Stephen D'Angelo - CRO, GTM Advisor & Author

Happiness. . . elusive yet intoxicating and something we can all use a little more of.  Why aren’t more people happy? Well here’s the thing, they may be but they just don’t realize it!

At the center of the frustrating search for happiness, there lies one thing. The confusion between happiness and elation.

As a married father of two, and a business executive with more than 30 years of experience in the software technology industry leading high-performing global organizations, I know first hand that balancing the many demands  of work and home life is difficult at best. Sometimes impossible! Through my experience, challenges and success, I often questioned my own level of happiness both at work and at home. While I truly loved my work and my family, until I really understood the difference between happiness and elation, I wasn’t sure if I was really happy or not.

Over the years, I gained a keen awareness of the critical success tenants everyone should follow to live a happy, healthy, and successful life. I learned to be a proponent of holistically approaching my life, family, and business. The great news is, this concept is universal. Anyone can do this, which ensures that everyone, regardless of their chosen field, has the tools, knowledge, mindset, and support needed to achieve greater success and happiness.

Too often we think elation is happiness. It most certainly is not. Elation is the positive emotional response to unique events in our lives. Things like getting married, winning the world series, getting an exciting job offer, getting the promotion you’ve been vying for, a new romantic interest, winning a contest, earning a degree, etc. These events don’t happen every day and they shouldn’t. The problem with our default mindset is that when we have unique events take place and we feel elation, we expect to feel that same level of emotion more often. When we don’t, we wonder why we are not happy.

So what is happiness? The answer to this question will serve as either your ticket to realizing you are in fact happy, or the realization that you need  guidance on how to get yourself here. The definition of happiness and success is this: The committed pursuit of a worthwhile goal or objective. That’s it! But let’s go deeper.

When we pursue a goal or objective such as raising children, building a career, striving to save a certain amount of money, helping people, teaching children, or whatever it is you may choose to pursue, understand that the effort itself must be holistic. To explain what that means, I will use an example of someone pursuing a career in sales.

When someone pursues a sales career they experience training, both excellent and miserable bosses, clients who are happy and clients who are upset, winning sales and losing sales, products that are powerful and products that are inferior. I can go on and on but you get the point. Is this salesperson only happy when the good things are going on? If so, they need a perspective adjustment. The career is EVERYTHING that goes on, the good and the bad. So with the proper attitude, this salesperson sees all parts as being critical components to a successful career. Sure, there will be moments of elation and pure bliss like winning an award or closing a big sale but she/he must not confuse the elation with the overall mindset of  happiness. All in all, they should recognize that they are happy because they are moving their life forward to achieve the objective they set.

Whatever goal you are pursuing, you can think of the good and not so good aspects of it as parts of a whole. Realize that all aspects are needed to be successful. You cannot be successful at anything without adversity. Embrace it and realize in the big picture, you are in a great place…you are in fact happy. And if you come to the realization that actually, no, you are not happy, you can begin to identify specific barriers contributing to unhappiness and dissatisfaction and begin to selectively work towards addressing them. Moments of adversity and dissatisfaction do not cancel out happiness, in fact they do the opposite. These moments are part of life and the hard things make the good things all the better!

The answer to achieving a mindset of happiness is to realize what being happy is and realizing that you qualify for that description! This simple shift in thought reduces stress because you stop thinking that you need to do more to be happy, and realise that you simply need to adjust and accept. If you are not aware that you are happy, you cannot accept happiness. If you are so stressed at work that you can’t be a positive force at home, then it is time for an adjustment. Continued stress and dissatisfaction leads to burnout. The start of a vicious cycle.

You have likely figured out by now that an important component of happiness is having a precise objective or goal. If you don’t have one, you qualify for NOT being happy. How do you resolve this? Find one! Seriously, take inventory of yourself. What are you passionate about? What do you love to do? Your new objective is to define an objective. That makes you happy, or at least gets you started on the journey!

Here are a few other life-health tips to enhance your overall level of happiness.

  • I see that many people struggle with the meaning of life. The trick is understanding that we no longer have to seek the answers to this age-old question from the world around us, but can instead rely on our own strengths, our own wisdom, our inside spirit, our own mindset, and our own power to create the life that we deserve. A life that is fulfilling, stable, and aligned with our core values and life goals. Again, go back to the definition of happiness and success.
  • Spend time in silence – The world we live in today is bombarded with “outside” noise. Smart phone messages, social media, TV media, friends opinions, etc. Taking time each day to be silent allows the inner you to speak to you more clearly. Here is where awareness heightens.
  • Connect your inner spirit with the universe – Making the conscious effort of being aware that you are a spirit in a body and connecting that spirit to the universe allows you to manifest the realities you desire. This allows you to connect more effectively with the power of the universe.
  • Have a mindset of gratitude – Each day, list the three things you are thankful for. The art of gratitude creates calm and attracts you to more of what you desire. Most importantly, it feels good!
  • Create positive self-talk statements – Most people have to change how they see themselves. Changing their “I ams” starts with conscious thought about what they want to be. Creating and repeating positive self-talk statements makes these a reality. We become what we think, and this activity sets you on course to self discovery.
  • Spend time with positive people – Put yourself closer to the people who bring you positive energy and spend less time with those who have a negative impact on you. This is often a difficult thing to do because we have many relationships and friendships and some are toxic. You don’t have to eliminate them completely but adjusting where you spend your time will make your life more pleasant and peaceful.

Happiness is a journey. An endless process of self discovery. Seeking happiness and fulfilment in life and work is essential to living your best life. And sometimes the easiest way to achieve this, is to simply adjust your mindset. Am I seeking the high of elation so badly that I am missing out on all of the constants that happiness provides?

Written by Stephen D’Angelo.

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Stephen D'Angelo
Stephen D'Angelo is a best-selling author and Silicon Valley veteran with more than 30 years experience in the tech industry. He has led global sales organizations as a chief revenue officer (CRO) and served as chief executive officer (CEO) and President of both private and publicly traded companies. Stephen has been an integral part of IPO’s and company acquisitions and has helped build global organizations that become leaders in their respective market segments. His book A Single Day of Peace serves as a guide for self empowerment and how to climb to success in both business and personal endeavors.

Stephen now leads D’Angelo Advisors providing go-to-market and fundraising consulting to CEO’s and leadership teams, serving global companies of all sizes. He is a strong proponent of the power of the mind. He believes great things are possible for all who blend their brain power with faith, hard-work, positive inspiration, and good will.


Stephen D'Angelo is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website.