Pursuit of Happiness – Part 3
To say that the Pursuit of Happiness is easily defined or clearly stated is to minimize its importance in the world and the universe.
In fact, Happiness doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing to every person. Yes it does. No it doesn’t, not really.
What am I talking about?
So what is it?
Is it a feeling?
Is it a state of being?
Is happiness just happening in our minds?
Yes, in a general sense, the feeling IS only happening in our minds. Not necessarily our brains, but our minds. Happiness is something that moves into us and out of us. It can be lasting or fleeting. In fact, Happiness can easily disappear in a heartbeat.
One tragic piece of news or one image entering our minds and POOF!! – it’s gone.
“Good feeling gone”
Our lives are basically constructed around our own individual need to be happy. When you really stop to think about it, almost every action we take every day is rooted in the selfish pursuit of happiness.
Why do we choose the job or career that we do? Isn’t it because we think eventually it will make us happy?
Why do we choose the friends in our lives? Is it because we feel they have the best chance of bringing us the feelings of happiness on a regular basis? If you have ever had friendships spring up instantly, wasn’t it because you met – had a great time (felt happy) – wanted that feeling to continue, or at least happen again – and decided you NEEDED this person in your life? Isn’t that selfish?
Of course it is. We are basically selfish creatures.
Parents make children why? To selflessly bring a new life into the universe? Or to fulfill a need inside to see a little person based on themselves? Immortality? The chance to “do it right” and raise a new human being better than the parent was raised?
So we are selfish. Fine. But it’s not a bad thing. Not all the time. When it comes to life and keeping things moving, there is no better way than for individuals to make selfish choices that result in the betterment of themselves and society in general.
So we are selfish.
When you accept that, or at least take a moment to look at life through that lens, you can understand the true motivations behind our own decisions and those of others.
Even decisions that seem totally cruel and evil are based in selfishness – which translates to the Pursuit of Happiness.
Were your parents unfair to you? Do you have lots of memories of being interrupted, not listened to, ignored, trivialized, marginalized, pushed aside, kept in the background? Yet at the same time, were your basic needs met? Food, clothing, shelter, etc.
If you take a step back from resentment and examine why they were such awful parents (ignoring your real self and real emotional needs), can you chalk it up to their own selfishness? Can you perhaps see that they really just wanted a smooth and quiet and peaceful home? And isn’t that a major part of what people consider happiness? Are you not selfish for demanding that they take the time to get to know the REAL you? Most kids feel this way – even when they are raised by amazing parents.
If your mom ran around and dated a few men, naturally it was in the pursuit of her own happiness.
If you dad drank too much and would hang out with his friends too much, naturally that is his pursuit of happiness.
You see, we all evaluate the people around us (even our own children) and decide just how much happiness they bring to our lives. Then we treat them accordingly.
Think about it. I mean, really think about it.
You do it too. There are some people who get a lot more of your attention than others. Why?
It’s because they either DO bring you more happiness than other people, or you THINK that someday they will.
As a child in a household, you selfishly crave the same level of attention and care that you received as a helpless infant. And if that level of attention isn’t given, then you find fault with your parents.
It’s the natural way of things. Eventually it all becomes too much and we crave to get out from under their selfish rules and create a life of our own – for our own pursuit of happiness. Am I right?
We all evaluate the people around us (even our own parents) and decide just how much happiness they bring to our lives. Then we treat them accordingly.
Some of the worst crimes in history were perpetrated in the name of an individual’s pursuit of happiness. Serial killings, mass murders, genocide – all in the name of selfishness – all justified internally by the perpetrators as their own pursuit of happiness.
Some of the most heroic acts in history can be attributed directly to a selfish pursuit of happiness. A man running into a burning building to save children – totally selfless? Or is it that he just couldn’t live with himself unless he at least tried? Isn’t that his selfish motivation for his own future happiness?
So as a parting thought for the day, let’s say that the Pursuit of Happiness is rooted in selfishness and is like farts – we all do it – and it can be a bad thing, but in general it’s a good thing.
Continue to pursue happiness, but do it as a Good Guy – using your selfishness to make other people’s lives better. Not as a bad guy – leaving a trail of pain in your wake.
In the end, your generally good selfish pursuit of happiness will lead to a life full of laughter and friends and love.