Is praise for personal success just guised reinforcement for doing something that benefits others while hurting that individual? Often successful people aren’t themselves happy per se, truly, genuinely fulfilled with the object of their success, whatever it may be – so why do they seek it?
Reinforcement and praise is given by others, by society as a whole for doing certain things such as working hard and being generous. These things clearly benefit others, and that is why they should encourage it. They also often come at the expense of the individual doing it; they suffer ill health from pursuing those activities, mental health included, and take the brunt of things upon themselves. Another example of this in action is entrepreneurship – what is entrepreneurship? Why has it been glamourised so heavily?
Simply, entrepreneurship is that act of doing absolutely whatever it takes, often unpleasant activities no one else would derive any happiness from, to do things which are going to benefit others. Big corporations simply bypass the difficulties associated with entrepreneurship by glamourising that lifestyle as something for the ‘little people on the ground’ to do, in exchange for some insignificant items such as luxury cars, etc. that that particular demographic is likely to value. It’s simply a branch of altruism meant to maximise group benefit off the back of a minority of individuals.
That individuals who do genuinely enjoy doing sacrificial things such as entrepreneurship exist is not to be doubted. However, many others most definitely do not enjoy those things. Even outwardly happy entrepreneurs are simply happy in an abstract sense, that the success gives them fuel to keep going. However, they have reported basic dissatisfactions and various kinds of mental illness such as depression.
In a way, this is not dissimilar to the genius/madman example, where great feats go hand in hand with great challenges or suffering. In this context, it would make sense that the amount of praise is correlated with the amount of suffering or difficulty an individual would have in attaining that feat.