Pursuit of Happiness – it’s in the Declaration of Independence, but do we really know what it means? Is happiness something that we can truly achieve? If so, how?
I think it is. It’s in the eye of seeker. No one can define happiness but you. However, they can definitely help you along your journey
That’s what the story of Chris Gardner, the author of The Pursuit of Happyness, has done for millions of people. Personally, I had seen Will Smith’s rendition a few years before I ever had heard that it was actually based on the life story of Chris. But if you think you ever have it bad, I got to say it probably pales in comparison. I mean, he really did. At the time that he was going through so much grief in his life, he really didn’t have anyone to turn to. I mean for crying out loud, he and his son had to sleep in a subway restroom.
But, if you saw the movie, you’d know that eventually he made his goals/dreams come true. Not only did he make them come true, but he far exceeded them.
So what was the lesson from his story? Well, for one… I think the main lesson was to never give up or give in. But I also think there’s more that we can pull from this story. We can see that Chris also progressed in developing his 5 Pillars of Happiness: Relationships, Health, Purpose, Finance, and the Little Things. These 5 pillars is what makes up New Inceptions’ foundation.
The 5 Pillars of Happiness:
1.) Mental (Relationships being a part of this) – In Chris’ story, we find Chris living with his ex-wife who gives him plenty of crap about where they are in life and what he’s doing with himself. It’s not that she’s really interested in him developing into what he wants to be, but what she can get out of her relationship with him. She needs him to do things that at the time he is incapable of doing. They are struggling, but she is definitely not helping the matter any. However, in the end of the story (at least the movie), Chris has built one heck of a relationship with his son.
In the Relationship Pillar of Happyness, as with all the other pillars, there is a scale. If a person is too heavy on one side of this scale vs the other, their life will be more difficult. As with everything in life, it’s all about proper moderation – these scales need to be properly balanced. In this particular scale one would say that there is side where a person is all about themselves. On the other side of this scale, they are all about other people at the expense of themselves. Neither extreme is good for building healthy relationships. If you’re too into yourself, no one will be able to trust you. If you’re too much into aiding others, then you’ll eventually be taken advantage of by them and made to do what they want you to. You need to know what you want out of relationships or it won’t be meaningful for any of the people involved.
To balance this scale out, it helps to understand why you keep the company you do and how to recognize those that are good for you. It also helps to know how to win the trust and friendships of those that you want in your life.
2.) Health – In Pursuit of Happyness, at least the movie, we never really deal with Chris’ health too much. However we would be mistaken to think that he was doing fantastic in this pillar. Little money = little food. Little food = malnutrition. Malnutrition, especially between a child and an adult, doesn’t usually equate to good things. The way to balance this pillar here is pretty obvious based on the focus of health in today’s society. To properly handle this pillar, one must balance out a fair amount of activity with proper nutrition. It’s all about proper maintenance and meeting the needs of your body. You can’t beat natural design.
3.) Spiritual (Purpose and Mission being a part of this) – In Chris’ story, he wants to leave the medical sales world behind and become a somebody on Wall Street. The movie is basically about his dedication in making this a reality. Obviously his dream to do this is to provide more for himself and his family which, at the beginning of the story, he’s not doing such a great job of. However, we shouldn’t get the pursuit of a “career” confused with the purpose of a person. A person’s career is just part of their purpose. Everything that a person chooses to constructively do with their time is part of their purpose. Everything that a person chooses to do that is not constructive use of their talents, is nothing more than a distraction of who they are.
However, too much of either side can’t be 100% good for you. Someone being completely constructive all the time in life might find it hard to have fun. Someone that lives 100% for fun, can not be happy because they aren’t fulfilling who they really are. In either extreme, a void is created and the person tries to fill that void with more of the same action. That’s how we get workaholics vs party animals. Those that do their research of who they are as a person, can figure out how to have fun while being constructive. This automatically balances you out. That’s how you can have a job where you don’t ever feel like you’re actually working.
If you can’t have fun when you’re being productive, the way to balance yourself here is choosing when to be purposeful and when to have fun. My suggestion? Work before play, but make sure you get to have fun.
4.) Wealth (Finance being a part of this) – Finally in Chris’ story, we need to realize the importance of money in his life. At the beginning, he doesn’t have very much of it. In the end, he has the opportunity to make plenty. Getting the chance to live his dream and be a player on Wall Street, definitely comes from his need to make a better living for himself and his family. There is nothing wrong with having this as a goal. However, we shouldn’t confuse this with just being rich to be rich.
In the Bible, it is said that “the love of money is root of all evil”. This is correct. To pursue money just to have it, is probably not the best thing for a person as it’s probably an addiction at that point and at the same time, they’re probably not doing too much with it. Instead, money should be considered a tool that amplifies the person that is using it. Good people will use it for good, while bad people will use it for bad things. Chris using his money to help his family move forward was a good thing. If used correctly for good, money can have a lot of impact – more than any one person can have in physical labor alone. Therefore the more money you have, the more people you have the potential to benefit.
2015 Edit: 5.) The Little Things – Since 2010 when I originally wrote this, I’ve realized that there is more to life that makes one happy. The fifth pillar could be referred to the little things. Each of us has particular small things in our life that we kind of geek over. For example, if you’re into sports, you might be into stats of pitchers, QBs, goalies, etc. You might attend games. You might even be into ::gasp:: Fantasy Football!
This pillar is as important as the other pillars. However, that said, it tends to be the one that people focus on the most. This is where you find all the little distractions in life including social media, gaming, and other new technology. While these things are great to have, too much of them can definitely be a bad thing. You need to equally be spending time with each pillar.
Things to Mention:
The thing to mention is with any of the pillars is that the less balanced one of them is, the more you think about and worry about it. Just like you’re suffocating and need air. Why? Because you feel that something is wrong – but you just can’t figure out what it is… or how to solve it. But you sense it. For example, if you have subpar relationships, you probably spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to get better ones. Or, if you have little money, you probably spend more time thinking about how to get it. You see the pattern.
Something else I want to mention here is two words we hear so much in society today. I used to wonder what the terms “shallow” and “deep” meant when describing a person. What I have found is that when a person is said to be “shallow” it’s because they are actually balancing very little. They typically are only interested in that very little – and that’s generally why they have little to talk about. On the other end, a person who is “deep” is one who has learned how to balance all their pillars and are fine tuning them on a regular basis. They have probably spent time learning about the different pillars (while they might not have realized it!) and have more to talk about with more people. If you want to have more friends… deeper friends… here’s a suggestion: get deeper into yourself. Find out what you are passionate about in life and learn how to share that passion with others.
So what do you think about the 4 Pillars of Happyness? Is there another pillar you might not be aware of?