The company of others: Rediscovering the Role of Companionship in Long-term Success and Happiness

This article is an excerpt from our soon to be released book "Euphoria"

It really does take a village, doesn’t it? Not just to raise a child but for any of us to live a full, happy life. I mean, am I right? As much as we all dislike admitting it, the fact is, we humans, cannot live without the interference of others.

Even when we are successful in all the career or business-oriented things we start out to do, we cannot fully enjoy what we accomplish unless there is recognition from others and/or we get to share the fruits of our labor with others.

Like I have been saying for the last four chapters, we are genuinely happy when we have love and acceptance in our lives. The kind of love, understanding, and acceptance that we typically get from other souls.

Those who start life by being trained to really understand the value of having others in their lives, pursue this lifestyle relentlessly. Although pop culture tells us that "things" will make us happy, reality tells us otherwise, right?

We have all seen the movies and television shows in which some guy or gal who has become successful in their career, living in a nice apartment in New York city and drives a fancy car, has it all.

Most young people today strive to be that person. That person who lives a life committed to being single and spends their free time taking multiple vacations with their "great" friends. Those friends who are also mostly single and have known each other since high school or college.

This kind of “chasing fun at all costs” lifestyle has become commonplace in the 21st

century. It seems this is what we all live for these days: Fun, and nothing else. I am not bashing anyone who loves to dedicate some time and resources to enjoying life.

Nope! That is not what I am trying to do here. I have my guilty pleasures in life too. I also don't mind getting away from it all from time-to-time. I too like to drive a nice car and have a ridiculously expensive glass of wine every now and then.

So, I get it. I am just trying to engage in a thought experiment. One that seeks to uncover and try to find ways to engage with the world and the people around us in a multitude of meaningful ways. Ways that make us happy, intrinsically.

L L Cool J was right

These characters (literally) out of a movie are those that we are taught are the ones to aspire to. Kind of like making smoking look Cool. Like the ad agencies tried to do in the late ’70s to early ’90s.

This is the person the media tells us has it all. The person we should strive to be. The truth in real life is quite different. Some 86% of all millionaires and billionaires are married. Mark Zuckerberg is a married man, so was Jeff Bezos until recently.

Warren Buffet was married for some time and continues to have a steady life partner. Ursula Burns was married to Lloyd Bean for some time till he died in 2019.

My point is, in spite of what you may have seen on TV or read in books and magazines, most successful people are married and have children. There are many reasons for this.

For one, having others in your life – those who are committed to building a life, beyond leisure – helps focus you, me, all of us. We (humans) tend to do better, emotionally, financially, and psychologically when we have others who care for us (and we care for them) in our lives.

Ursula Burns, former CEO of Xerox

In 2007, Burns assumed the role of president of Xerox. In July 2009 she was named CEO, succeeding Mulcahy, who remained as chairman until May 2010.The first black woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company, Burns was also the first woman to succeed another woman as head of a Fortune 500 company.

More than just a friend

More often than not, the media leads us to believe that marriage or long-term partnerships are ones that only serve one purpose: The pursuit of sex and leisure.

And depending on the examples you saw growing up, you might look at a life lived with another as simply a headache. Something to avoid at all costs if you can. An endeavor that, although you have the need to pursue – and society puts pressure on you to – will certainly end in some type of unspeakable series of disastrous events. These are ideas and expectations of marriage so normalized and internalized that we don’t give it a second thought.

In reality, we all go into adulthood, unbeknownst to us, carrying the (matrimonial) lessons learned by watching our parents interact with one another. For the most part, those who naturally thrive at the various roles you are sure to hold in life – Mom, Wife, etc. – do so because they often either had great examples growing up, or set out to (purposefully) learn the lessons that will set them up to be these things in a productive way.

Simply put: You are likely to be able to maintain long-term relationships, be a great parent, and so on, if you had great parents, and as a consequence saw them - your parents- maintain a long-term, healthy, loving relationship.

We (human beings) are more instinct than logic. As much as we hate to admit it, and each of us sees themselves as going through life making decisions based on clear-eyed thinking, the data suggests that we make most of our decisions, even the important once based on our feelings and what we are used to, most of the time. For better or worse, we become the kind of mom our mom was. The kind of father our dad was and so on.