He states that the key factor in one’s happiness–not experiential happiness, but ‘remembered happiness’ that is more correlated with ‘life satisfaction’, see Kahneman on the difference–is ‘perceived earned success’. This is the willingness and ability to create value in your life or the life of others. He states that if you ask someone if they feel like they are creating such value, they are happy, regardless of how much they make. Giving people money, via welfare or inheritance, does not make people happy, because this if anything discourages the effort needed to find and develop such a niche.
This is why lottery winners are unhappy; while they have the trappings of success, they know they didn’t earn it.
This is why overnight sensations struggle to stay on top, whereas those who struggled through a longer ascent often remain successful.
This is why our culture of eliminating failure and doling out praise to everyone regardless of performance is so pernicious.
Failure and feeling inadequate may be painful, but pain has a purpose. It tells you to try something else. Eliminating pain eliminates the prod to progress.
As a parent, I hate to see my children fail. When they feel pain, I feel it even worse. But we must not be so selfish as to deprive them of the privilege of failure simply to salve our own feelings. Failure is not only an option, it is the best teacher, and something our children must learn to process, accept, and learn from.
We cannot give our children happiness; all we can do is give them the opportunity to earn it.