Friday, March 8, 2013

The Pursuit of Happiness

The Declaration of Independence states that we are all entitled to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," but how many of us are really happy?

Are you happy?  A few days ago I asked some of my friends this very same question.  The answers I received were definitely all over the board.  Some said yes.  Some said no.  But most people fell somewhere in between.  But what exactly is happiness?  Is it something that has one general definition?  Or is a subjective state of mind?

According to dictionary.com happiness is, "the quality or state of being happy." (I hate when dictionaries use the root of the word in their definition.)  Or, "good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy."  I don't know about you, but I am not sure if this is a true answer.

To me I don't think anyone can really be happy all the time.  Although one of my good guy friends, I think he may be the only person I know who appears to be always happy.  But my theory is that our state of happiness is kind of like how weight fluctuates, basically it can go up and down depending on the time of day or even the week in the month.  Allow me to further explain.  I weigh myself religiously.  I am not sure really at this point because I am constantly on and off track with this weight thing, but that is not the point right now. Anyway, when you weigh yourself in the morning you are at your lightest weight.  Throughout the day your weight can go up and down from there but usually by the end of the day you are a couple of pounds heavier than when the day began.  And if it is a week when I am on my period I can gain five pounds overnight!  Guys, be glad, it is the most frustrating thing in life.  Ok, not really, but it is definitely annoying.  So to me, I think that happiness is not about continued joy.  For me, I wake up happy in the morning to have slept through the night, have a rough over my head, and food to eat, that is until my mother knocks on my door at 6 in the morning on a Saturday.  Then after I have cooled off (which usually takes about half the morning), I am kind of neutral.  Then something else can happen and my happiness is up or down.  Does this make sense?

But happiness is usually calculated on a more general scale.  But what is it that makes us decide our level of happiness?  America is a capitalistic society.  Unfortunately, that means for us that much of our happiness is depending on what type of job we have, how much money we are making, if we own a house, and if I can buy that $200 purse that I really want.  Another contribution to our happiness is the apparent happiness of others.  On a surface level we look at others and believe them to be happy because they are married, have kids, live in a nice house, and can take fantastic vacations whenever they want.  The truth is these things that we desire will not necessarily equate to being happy.  I mean just look at the celebrities in the news.  Most of them have more money than we will ever earn in a lifetime, but they seem like some of the most miserable people on the planet.

So am I happy?  I fall into that middle category.  Of course I have had my fair share of disappointments, heartache, and a whole lot of struggle, but I am happy to have gone through it because I know that is what has made me such a strong person.  However, I could be happier.  I want to be more stable.  I want my own place and I want to be able to take care of my mom without living paycheck to paycheck.  I want to make a difference in the world and help to improve the lives of others.  I want to be happy with me and all of my crannies, rolls, sometimes frizzy hair and all.  Overall, I think that I would be really happy if I weren't my harshest critic.  And I know all of this is not a distant dream, but it is something that I need to work on day after day.

I guess this life journey that I am on is my own pursuit of happiness.

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