I am sure you have seen the movie, Pursuit of Happyness. http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/thepursuitofhappyness/ There are many examples as to how people in humble beginnings persevere to a higher level. We all know that journey. I can relate because I had previously pursued credible and challenging sales jobs with a very meager lifestyle earlier in my life. It wasn’t all that bad, but it was enough for me to get out of my comfort zones and pursue something more. It took lots of second jobs, patient landlords, dozens of job interviews and endless networking. I can comfortably say, I feel developed and every step and obstacle along the way had its purpose.
In the movie, a salesman, Chris Gardner became homeless and broke while raising his son, played by Will Smith and his son. Chris worked to become a top trainee at a brokerage firm. He persistently made calls to prospective clients and his efforts finally paid off when Gardner passed his exam and became a full time employee of the firm.
Was his pursuit lucky?
Was it strategic?
What made him persist and overcome?
I think the pursuit of happiness is real. It is an authentic desire of our nature. Our personal Constitution. In our pursuit of happiness it is important to recognize which paths are illusions and which are dead ends. Some are misleading and some are authentic. Sure, there are basic things, like eating healthy, being positive, exercising, treating people nice, having meaning and goals. All of it is to ultimately chase opportunities, create happiness…to pursue happiness. Like Chris says, to his son…” You want something? Go get it. Period. You need to protect it.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajjGtsjI7CM
Chris started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. He says, “I remember thinking how did he know to put the pursuit part in there? That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it. …No matter what.” If we label happiness as a highly unattainable lifestyle or a few unique events or an emotion that comes and goes or a disciplined mindset…is pursuing our version of happiness something we need to prepare for? Or is very little needed to make a happy life? I think if you strive for happiness in a meaningful and authentic way and connecting that happiness to others, it could be effective, long term and continuous. That’s what the experts say..right?
But, what about the ugly surprises, the obstacles and the unpredictable problems? We tell ourselves to be happy when it’s a smooth, easy ride, and we even try to stay happy when challenges and obstacles arise too. But, when we push away or surround fear with positivity, we eventually are caught off guard, unprepared and have no basic steps toward resolution, except to maintain a good mood. By not even considering about negative potential problems or future scenarios, we never develop or utilize the skills of being able to handle them. We have no experience. Everything is unfamiliar. So, the (fake) happiness we hold on to never regenerates and becomes irrelevant. Some will disagree.
We all have our own way of engineering our own pursuit. We can follow some simple, basic, fundamental laws or rules out there that we can adopt and learn to vastly improve our lives and maintain that good attitude. All those books and seminars say so. Right? We can also wake up, stop suppressing our fears and stop creating manufactured, false states of happiness when we feel otherwise. We can become more capable and dynamic with solving problems. Our own and others. The experience is in the pain. Not in the positive thinking. ( debatable)
But……… It’s too hard.
The fight is hard.
The chase is hard.
Life is hard.
Maybe happiness is not a new car, or fancy clothes or social acceptance or cheap gratification. We know that. Maybe it’s a moment of clarity. An optimistic view of the future. Maybe, it’s a culmination of many things. Maybe happiness just can’t be defined with words … which is why the ending of this movie is so good.
Before this scene: *IRS takes all his money
*Chris and his son are evicted, becomes broke.
*They are homeless, and are forced to stay in a restroom at a subway station.
*Chris develops a number of ways to make phone sales calls more efficiently and never reveals to clients that he is homeless or broke.
* His manager finally reveals after weeks of training, he is hired as a full time broker and repays him the money Chris had lent him earlier.
At the end of the movie…Chris says, ” ….and this little part of my life…this little part… is called….happiness.”
Being happy is good. Being continuously happy is great and pursuing happiness is a reminder of how far we have come but a reminder to how we need to improve when it all goes wrong. Do you view happiness as a continuous struggle or a chase? A chase we should be pursuing no matter how bad or good it gets? Or, is happiness something we deserve continuously and we should handle problems as they come? Was it the positive attitude that helped Chris get this moment? Or was it all the fear, sadness, depression and ugliness that contained the key to his own liberation?
I think we don’t need to improve our happiness. It is what it is. Happiness will be there waiting for us, when we are ready for it. Maybe we need to improve, change or alter our view of what we really think our happpiness is and how it fits into our own puzzle. We need to stop pounding square pegs into circles.
Is it just a day to day emotion? Is it a standard of living? Is it a destination to where we want to go? Or is it only meant for the lucky? Maybe only then…will we learn how to really pursue it…most importantly when we lose it, learn how we can find it again…to make it a repeatable process.