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The Pursuit of Happiness


I can hardly believe the number of people I run into who tell me how unhappy they are, here in America, the land of opportunity – the land of plenty – the land of “ if you don’t have something, just complain loud enough and we’ll give it to you.”

Mostly this is because the new America has redefined the term, “happiness.” It used to mean, in my father’s time, to be content with a roof over your head, a job, and a family that cared about you. But today, happiness and contentment are not about a place in your head – they’re about things. We have quit trying to define our own contentment and we have fallen victim to what the stupid box(s) tells us contentment is. We have given up the pursuit of happiness for the pursuit of recognition – for acceptance – into whatever tribe it is in which we wish to belong. It’s time we quit playing the victim card, it’s time we stopped making excuses, and it’s time we stopped letting society tell us how to live.

If you’ll look back, say to the days of drive-in movies, our heroes were all unique individuals – they didn’t dress like everyone else, they never wore their ball caps on backwards (still the stupidest %^$^%$ thing I’ve ever seen), they didn’t need to adopt someone else’s jargon, or movements – they knew who they were. That’s why they were the heroes. It’s never too late to become your own hero. Life is not about creating yourself – it’s about discovering yourself, and when you do that, you’ll discover the byproduct is happiness.

If you don’t like something in your life, change it. There are no rules in the game of happiness. If you don’t like your job, quit. Step off that cliff and build your wings on the way down. If you don’t have enough time, give up the stupid box, put away your Gameboy, and find a hobby that expands rather than atrophies your brain and your body. Travel often – see the world, so that you actually understand it. Take chances, don’t be afraid to get lost – some of the greatest happiness is found in accomplishment and the conquering of your own fears.

You have to avidly pursue happiness. It rarely walks up and bangs on your door (unless it’s Publisher’s Clearing House). Most importantly, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Protect and cherish your dreams – they’re like flowers – without being fed and watered they will expire.

Most importantly, remember that contentment is not actually achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness. It’s actually a byproduct of effort and achievement in numerous other activities. One day you’ll look around – at your friends, and family, and your business accomplishments, and you’ll find yourself smiling. You’ll realize then, where the pursuit of happiness has taken you.

I’ll leave you with a quote by Benjamin Franklin: “The U.S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself.”

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