She thinks happiness is a mat that sits on her doorway

Posted on May 23, 2011

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This part of my life...this part right here? This is called "happyness"

If you haven’t seen Pursuit of Happyness, then you should. It’s based on a true story and is very well done. And Will Smith is SMOKING hot. But most importantly, it explores issues that we all experience in real life – like success, failure, and happiness. There are a few quotes in the movie that particularly stand out to me. For Will Smith’s character, Christopher Gardner, life starts to get difficult. He becomes nearly broke, his wife leaves him, he has to take care of his son, and all the while, he always seems to have the worst luck. At one point in the movie Christopher says:

“It was right then that I started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And 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. How did he know that?”

Yeah, how did he know that? I mean, that’s what it feels like to me – that I spend all my time trying to pursue happiness, but it’s always just a little out of reach (and sometimes more than a little). And I don’t think I’m alone in that feeling. Kid Cudi even wrote a song about it: “I’m on the pursuit of happiness and I know/ everything that shines ain’t always gold”. You and me both, man.

But maybe we don’t have to be in hot pursuit of happiness. Because maybe we’re pursuing the wrong thing – something that looks quite a bit like happiness, but really isn’t. In the movie, Christopher Gardner’s son (also named Christopher) is a smart little bugger. He tells his dad a joke in the movie that’s loaded with deeper meaning:

Hey dad, you wanna hear something funny? There was a man who was drowning, and a boat came, and the man on the boat said “Do you need help?” and the man said “God will save me”. Then another boat came and he tried to help him, but he said “God will save me”, then he drowned and went to Heaven. Then the man told God, “God, why didn’t you save me?” and God said “I sent you two boats, you dummy!”

Now don’t think I’m going all religious on you. I’m not. I think what we can get from this joke, that has to do with happiness, is that perhaps we are spending our time pursuing/waiting for happiness, but in the meantime, actual happiness is passing right by us. And we’re just missing it.

Well…that’s depressing.

But hold on! We just have to sharpen our eyes, so we don’t miss it next time. Yeah okay, so how do we do that? This patch.com article may give us insight: The Quest for Happiness

The article reiterates what I said above – that sometimes what we think will make us happy isn’t necessarily what will. According to the article, you can find happiness by:

“Cultivating your strengths and using those strengths to overcome obstacles”

And…

“Gratitude is another way to be happy…Our purpose in life is to find our gift, perfect it and give it back to others…Gratitude is the intention to count your blessings everyday, every moment while avoiding whenever possible, the belief that you need or deserve different circumstances”

In sum…

“Finding happiness requires being engaged, not passive, with your life…Focus on things you love and things you are good at”

Obviously this is all much easier said than done. But I think it’s ultimately true – that if we focus on our passions and our talents, then when the next boat comes along, we’ll hop aboard and sail to shore.

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