Pursuit of Happiness

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I feel like happiness has been such a huge topic lately, and I’m not really quite sure why. Everyone around me – friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and all over social media, I have seen and had conversation about happiness. It seems that the more we progress in our lives, the less we are happy.

I watched an interesting documentary titled Happy on Netflix recently that provided more scientific data behind happiness. Apparently, 50% of our happiness is determined through our genes. Some nationalities and genetic makeups produce happier people. 40% of our happiness is affected by the choices we make each day. Whether we decide to volunteer our free time, watch hours of TV, spend time with family and friends, etc. The remaining 10% is our life circumstance. Most likely things we do on a daily basis and have little control over. This would be your health, your job, your living conditions, and your family. Only 10%! I found this super interesting because I believed that the majority of your happiness would stem from your daily activities. If I am not happy in the daily job that I do, 8-10 hours a day, I wouldn’t be happy in my life in general. This is not the case however (according to this documentary).

The documentary went on to interview a man that lived in Kolkata, India. India to me is generally a much happier place than the United States, although the living conditions could be much lower than the US. This was by far my biggest observation and feeling when I was there. This man works as a rickshaw “driver.” He doesn’t actually drive an automated rickshaw, but instead pulls one with his bare body while he jogs on feet. He lived in one room with his wife and many children. They didn’t have a roof on their house but instead places a plastic sheet whenever the monsoon season came, although it didn’t keep much of the rain out. He said that some days they didn’t have food to eat, and when they did, it was mostly plain white rice.

But he was happy. He was happy with his life, his children, his home, and his job. It brought him joy and he loved seeing his kids send him off to work each day and welcome him home in the evenings.

Clip from Happy

The documentary goes on to interview a few others around the world that have changed their lives in the pursuit of happiness. The beautiful thing about them is that their changes were to help others and not gain monetary wealth or accreditation for themselves. Their changes were to live in a sense of community rather than independence. To grow their spiritual connections and emotions with others, rather than growing their financial and material possessions.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Look at how much we have changed in the past 4-5 years with the products we purchase and lifestyles we live. We no longer want quick and easy meals. We value locally grown, farm-to-table, organic food, that provides us with a connection to the people that have produced it and gives us those feel good vibes. We want our products to be with as little ingredients as possible (all that we can pronounce) and hell, we are even looking at co-op farming opportunities! … at least I am 😉 So why this reversal now? Is it that the very things our grandparents and parents strived to secure for us, are the things making us unhappy today?

I’m curious to know how others feel about this! What makes you happy? Have you made any changes in your life that have brought more happiness?

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One thought on “Pursuit of Happiness

  1. Think of your life as a line and happiness is a bunch of dots on the line.
    Your mental state fluctuates; hence, you feel happy when you are not unhappy or are feeling better than neutral.
    I could be wrong, but those who overly pursue happiness seem to see that it should be something continuous or a “line,” are trying to connect those dots to be happy 24/7, feel unaccomplished by the unfruitful attempts and fail to recognize the dots/happier moments in life. Take the rickshaw driver as an example, if what he does in between being sent off and welcomed home were something far more exciting, he would not find happiness in the moments. What I am saying is that you cannot be high 24/7 to notice and appreciate the high time.

    I also think that being happy is your choice to make and decision as to when to be satisfied, and nationalities, genes, daily choices, and life circumstance are all intertwined and affect the decision making process. For Americans, it’s extra hard ‘cause they are wired to be ambitious, not easily be satisfied, and so-called freedom affords anyone to become anyone since there is no real social class/status to be born with except one that is measured by their financial well-being. And I understand that if some orange-faced rich guy with a weird hairdo could wake up one day and rule the country, why not try? With that, many try to seek happiness outside of who they are and what they do and end up being stressed out by trying too hard or just by wanting more.

    I cannot say if it is better this way, but it would be easier to accept the situation they are in and find happy moments in it or be happy with self-satisfactions of contributing to others happiness as they tend to measure success by the moment as opposed to the continuation of it when it comes to someone else’s happiness. If we choose the other way and keep pursuing something more while taking advantage of the unlimited opportunities, we need to make sure that we count the happy moments along the way and be happy because it’s endless. That’s how I manage to consider myself happy while not being entirely satisfied. Am I making any sense?

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