We all remember Thomas Jefferson’s famous line in the Declaration of Independence, “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.” I am all in favor of life and liberty, but with all due respect to our founding father, pursuing happiness just doesn’t work.
When we pursue happiness, we focus on ourselves and what we lack in life. We view life as a race and our thoughts often turn to the pleasures money can buy. We fantasize about the new car, the luxury vacation, or the freedom of having more money. We might even get those things we pursue, and enjoy the short-term boost of excitement and satisfaction they bring. But, alas, those feelings fade all too quickly.
Happiness is built on the foundation of a stable lifestyle, but beyond the amount of money we need to meet our basic needs, we find happiness in the quality of our most important relationships, in our ability to engage in challenging activities that ignite our passions, and from making a difference in the lives of others.
Creating a happy life requires us to shift our focus outward. To build great relationships, we must listen to others with a caring attitude and without judgment. To find challenging activities that ignite our passions, sometimes we must look for the intersection of what the world needs with what we love to do. To make a positive difference in the lives of others, we must be aware of and respond to what is happening in the world around us.
If you want to be happier, stop pursuing happiness. Start focusing on your most important relationships, seek out opportunities to do what you love, and use your wealth to make a positive difference in someone’s life.
And, who knows, you might just end up happier. That’s an inalienable right I can wholeheartedly support.