Can Publishing a Book Make You Happy?

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The day I passed my PhD viva without a single correction was one of the defining moments of my life. I’d been working towards that day for four years. Walking out of the examination room, I was euphoric. Half-crying, half-laughing, I delivered the news to my husband and we went to celebrate at my favourite Iranian restaurant.

As I was falling asleep that night, I kept thinking: This is it! I’ve made it. Now I can finally start living. Now I can finally be happy.

The next day was the most ordinary day imaginable.

Nothing spectacular happened. What’s more, I didn’t feel any happier. No, if anything, I felt empty. Yes, there was a relief, but there was also confusion – now what? What’s the next big thing I need to conquer? And why did I not feel happy, or at least happier?

Now looking back at that moment I understand that I was waiting for the happiness to come from outside. I was expecting for that validation to give me a sense of self-worth. Yes, it was a big accomplishment, but it wasn’t something that could make me happy.

We are either happy or not. External circumstances can give us a quick fix, but it’s the inner ‘work’ that can provide lasting results.

I’m keeping this in mind as I’m entering the next stage of putting my work out into the world. Publishing my book will be amazing, and I can’t wait for that day. But it’s not something that can make me feel more loveable, successful or happy.

What’s your take on this, dear reader? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

42 thoughts on “Can Publishing a Book Make You Happy?

  1. I felt just like that when I published my first book last year. I’d built it up so big in my mind and then it was over. The next day was such an anti-climax.
    The best thing to do is sink yourself into the next book or project and keep going. No doubt I’ll have the same feelings when I publish again – but at least I’ll know what to expect.

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    • I think having clear expectations may help second time around. And I’ve started project number 2 before I finished the current one in anticipation of that anti-climax 🙂 Thank you so much for reading.

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  2. I agree that having very high expectations about one thing leads to disappointment. Happiness depends on a continuation of things, big and small. Successes, little pleasures, joyful moments. And these are what keeps us going after a big failure…

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  3. Happiness is an inner state of mind, i believe… Yes, external matters can make you more or less happy, but it is your mind which is guiding you. But, for sure, you can feel proud and happy when achieving such a big goal. And….might it be possible to have different ways of feeling happiness? External, short, proud ways of feeling happy and the internal, continuous, ‘zenn’ happy state of mind? You gave me something to think about. Thank you! ❤

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    • Thank you so much for reading and your thoughtful comment. The truth is it’s not one or the other. It’s all those big and small moments which contribute to our happiness and joy. Our happiness is not dependant on achieving one big thing. Thank you!

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    • I’m still waiting for the assessment report from the literary consultancy. Perhaps this post should have been about the reality of getting feedback and not how I’d feel when the book is out 😀 There are still quite a few steps before then (like finding an agent). But hey, one can ruminate on what publishing a book may feel like one day 🙂 Thank you for reading and your support, Louise.

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  4. I have learned that external factors can make me happy. Achievements can make me happy. But what makes a difference for me is having that inner joy (which sometimes goes AWOL on me) when the happiness fades. I’d still like to get published and I know I’ll be happy when that happens. As I work on the big things that will make me happy, I guess I’m also working on the little things that keep the joy 😊

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  5. Excellent post! My best writing occurs when I am having fun in the process. If I’m not enjoying that, then my work will be flat anyway. Publishing, sales, good reviews…they are all great moments; but the real joy for me is the one-word-at-a-time journey.

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    • What a great insight, Tanya, it’s so true. We get caught up in wearing all the hats that come with being an author these days forgetting the most important one – the joy of writing. Many thanks for reading and commenting.

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  6. First, many congratulations on receiving your doctorate. Then all the luck with your writing ventures. I know what you mean. I thought once I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, I’d be set. Life was perfect. And I was riding high emotionally for a while, but then it became just another day and what am I going to do with this accolade. Then I thought once I became published, all was right with life. [I have published several YA short story adventures with Cricket Magazine.] And once again, I rode high on emotion…until I didn’t anymore. Now I need to broaden my publishing field to find that high. All the best to you, Gulara!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for reading and your thoughtful comment, Victoria. Broadening publishing field is definitely one way to go. You may also want to check out my post from today. I offer a short healing meditation to release some of these patterns that keep us disappointed after a while. No pressure if not of interest. I thought I’d mention. Many thanks again for stopping by.

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  7. Many of my most significant accomplishments are ones the world does not see, or that I might have difficulty articulating to another. I used to look for tangible evidence to “prove” my worth — to bosses, colleagues and others. Yet, like you have wisely observed, completing a big accomplishment does not bring happiness. I try to enjoy the journey and look for every day joys. The big accomplishments might be a thrill, but they are not necessarily my defining moments. Great thought-provoking post!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Charli, I appreciate your feedback. For me this desire to ‘prove’ my worth was one of the key driving forces behind over-achieving. It feels good to separate those two notions, because I didn’t feel worthier for having those two letters in front of my name 🙂 Like happiness, self-worth is an innate feeling. Many thanks for your comment.

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  8. Pingback: Searching for Happiness? Look No Further | Dr Gulara Vincent

  9. Totally agree. Such events and accomplishments are moments, great moments to be sure but moments all the same. Happiness and contentment is a deeper feeling that comes from a lifetime of moments and cultivating the right attitudes towards them I think.

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  10. Totally agree.
    There is a beautiful phrase/saying about this topic: Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy, until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy, unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you.
    I have to look up who wrote it, but it’s precisely your point 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Congratulations on your achievements – your PhD and the imminent publication of your book. I look forward to reading it. I recognise that empty feeling that comes when a project is finished, and realise too that happiness is something that we carry within.

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    • It’s not as imminent as I’d like it, Norah 🙂 but thank you for your kind words. Yes, the empty feeling is an interesting one and worth being aware of. Many thanks for your thoughtful comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m with Ula. Publishing my book(s) is going to “make” me happy. I’ll be thrilled! But nothing like that can truly make one happy. Plus, I’m an internal validation type person. My true happiness comes from within. 💖

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  13. I’m kind of an “achievement addict”. I love having projects on the go and when they’re complete, I’m jonesing for the next one. I do not have any great ambitions to publish a book, but when you publish yours, I will be buying a copy.

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    • Well, you made my day 🙂 Thank you for your kind words of encouragement about my book. As to being ‘addicted’ to achievement, a useful question to ask might be ‘How do I feel when I complete a project.’ Underneath any drive there’s a deeper desire to feel something. If you can pinpoint that feeling and find other ways to give it to yourself, the pressure may be off. Obviously, you don’t have to follow this suggestions, and having lots of projects on the go may bring you joy in its own right (I’m certainly like that myself). It’s only if it gets uncomfortable you may want to do something different, and suggestion above is one way to go. Have a wonderful day.

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  14. My experience with finishing my PhD was pretty similar — I kind of expected it would change everything. It didn’t. I also thought publishing The Knowledge Weapon (my first full-length collection) would change a lot — It sort of did. It might not have gotten me a job (yet), but winning the competition and seeing the book make it to print, and onto bookstore shelves, has been a reassuring experience, a relief almost.

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    • First of all, I’m so happy your book won a competition and made it into a bookstore – what a fantastic achievement! It’s definitely worth celebrating, and I can feel your relief. And, life goes on with all it’s ups and downs. Just the nature of being alive (and perhaps gathering material for the next book 🙂 Many thanks for reading and commenting, I really appreciate it.

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  15. First time visiting here Gulara but see some blogger friends have already found you 🙂 There is an idea out of positive psychology–Martin Seligman in particular–that sums up my feelings on your question: that authentic happiness comes from achievement or accomplishment. I felt authentically happy when I finished a second version of a full-length medical memoir for a client this month. And as you suggested, it was much like the feeling that came from finishing a long school assignment (in my case a MA thesis.) Having said that, now there is a gnawing feeling of vacancy. Of needing to get moving on a new project. While I carry that kernel of satisfaction inside, can I really say I am happier now? Thanks for the thought-provoking post. Good luck on your book!

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    • How lovely to meet you here, Jeanne, thank you for visiting. I love your comment – thank you so much for sharing your process. That feeling of gnawing vacancy is so familiar. I’m learning to stay with it, because inside hides the seed for the new creative project. Not always successful, but at least I know it intellectually. Thank you!

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