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The Pursuit of Happiness

June 17, 2009

Dear Reader,

The great Thomas Jefferson, of America, famously said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” But, I ask you, have you or anyone else you know ever told you, “I’m going to exercise my unalienable right as a human to embark on a pursuit of happiness”?

No, right? But ultimately, in life, this is what we should tell ourselves. We are all, ultimately, embarking on our own pursuits of happiness from the time we’re born until the day we die, whether we identify it as such or not. Isn’t happiness the only real thing worth chasing in our lives? Or, to flip the question, what are we chasing when we eat good food, get an education and a good paying job, or when we do whatever it is we do for fun? We do these things in order to achieve happiness; we eat to feel contentment; we work and pursue an education in order so we may earn enough money to achieve happiness (and, if you’re really successful, then you love getting up and going to work anyways); we do our hobbies for fun, which naturally raises our spirits. Everything you do is indirectly connected to your pursuit of happiness – and it is up to you to identify it as such.

“But Prince,” you may ask, “I get caught up in all these mundane tasks every single day and I’m not really enjoying myself! I have to do my schoolwork, do my laundry, clean my house, cook my food, all after coming home from work! I have no time to enjoy myself or experience this ‘happiness’ you speak of!”

Ah, but, have you asked yourself if any of these things truly matter or contribute to your happiness? Have you asked yourself whether it’s truly necessary to do things now, rather than enjoy yourself? One thing I have learned (mentioned here) is that splitting your to-do list can make yourself a lot less stressed out, and a lot happier. One suggestion that I do have for your to-do lists is that, no matter what, you include at least one thing that makes you happy on your real to-do list, not your bonus list. Make it an absolute priority that you always find some way to enjoy yourself throughout the day, whether it’s reading, or writing, or whatever it is that makes you happy.

Another good saying you can use is the first of my Princioms that I am going to be revealing here in my letters. A portmanteau of “Prince” (that’s me) and “axiom”, my Princioms are the axioms that I choose to live by, and you, reader, should adopt. This one is taken from Tolstoy’s epic novel War and Peace:

Princiom #1: When doing anything, ask yourself, “Can what I’m doing now make me any happier or better?” If your honest answer is no, move on and do something that will garner an answer of “yes” when asked the same question.

When you have achieved happiness and you are having fun, learn to slow down time (more on that skill in a later post) and really savor the moments of happiness that you achieve. They are to be cherished, especially if you find yourself badgered by work for the majority of your time (assuming you dislike work, of course). Recognize that your precious moments of happiness are the only reasons why we live here – they are the fruits of your labors during your pursuit of happiness. They are, really, your rewards for living.

However, I want more than just a few moments of pleasure every day. Something inside of me tells me that life is more than just a few moments of happiness per day – I feel like we should be able to get to the point where we are truly happy all day. I think that happiness is not just bound to a few moments, but if one is truly happy, we should be in a blissful state of mind during all of our waking hours. Put another way, I think that true happiness is not subject to the whims of what we happen to be doing at a given moment, but should permeate every single one of our days. Time for my second princiom:

Princiom #2: My goal in life is to reach the point where I am exalted and happy from the time I rise to the time I go back to sleep every day.

That, to me, is the greatest thing that can happen: pure happiness, day and night, no matter what happens. However, I feel our happiness is too dependent on what we do, which is a good thing, because we should be able to feel proud of our achievements and accomplishments on our pursuit of happiness. Perhaps this would sound better: I feel our happiness is too dependent on what happens to us – you know, like we get crushed when we lose a job, get rejected by some woman we fancy, and so on down the line. But pure happiness is not affected by the negative: it is like a flame that can’t be put out, no matter how much water you try to pour on it.

So, reader, what are you going to do with your time now? Use your time wisely: spend most of it in happiness.

Permanently chasing happiness,
The Prince

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2009 11:23 am

    “I feel our happiness is too dependent on what happens to us”

    that is how i measure happiness in my life, sigh. not exactly the way to achieve happiness as misfortune is out of our control when it does happen. but to be infinitely happy at all times is unrealistic to me, because how can we appreciate good times when we do not go through the tough times?

  2. June 29, 2009 7:17 pm

    This is about transcending what “happens” to you – you cannot be shaken by what happens to you. You have to be happy, independent of what happens to you. Reminds me of an old quote, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you, and 90 percent how you react to it.” If you can control your response, then you can be happy, no matter if bad things happen to you. I highly recommend Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations for that reason… A lot of his “chapters” are devoted to that principle.

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