“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” are unalienable rights identified in the United States Declaration of Independence. I love America, my new homeland, and how its founding documents embrace this God-given right of all to pursue happiness.
I marvel at the wisdom of our founding fathers. They did not guarantee happiness, but clearly stated the “pursuit of happiness” is everyone’s equal right.
“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.”
– The Declaration of Independence
But truth be told, few of us know how to be happy, to truly exercise this right granted to us by our forefathers.
Are Americans truly happy?
Should happiness be measured?
Can we benchmark our happiness level?
Is happiness measured along the journey through personal or career achievements, outcomes, productivity and innovation?
Or do health levels, friendships, contentment and community connection reflect a nation’s true level of happiness?
I cannot answer these questions – probably never will!
I can merely look inwards and learn what makes me happy.
I accept the Declaration of Independence cannot eliminate worries and stressors through the miraculous words of learned men.
Constant happiness is not an American birthright.
Perhaps, in the past I skimmed over the word ‘pursuit’, not fully assimilating its meaning.
Did I shy away from my path towards happiness because I did not know the way?
My own happiness has multiplied ever since I chose to be more mindful, to stop regretting decisions made and not made. I have chosen to become an American citizen and in doing so I have not abandoned Ireland, nor destined myself to a future of regret and longing for the ‘old sod’. I can be happy not living in the land of my birth.
I can be happy by increasing my awareness of the present moment.
Contentment and satisfaction are the byproducts of my journey and can be attained only if I choose to perceive beauty, adopt a bright outlook on life, and eliminate fearful thoughts and negative assumptions.
Yet pursuing happiness does not mean I banish sadness, avoiding it like the plague, refusing to acknowledge its existence. Only by experiencing sadness, the polar opposite of happiness, will I really recognize when I am truly happy. Real life is full of disappointment and loss, and only by experiencing the full range of emotions life offers, can I live a rich and meaningful life.
I get homesick for Ireland. There I admit it, but this confession does not make me love America less, nor decrease my potential to be happy in this great country.
Happiness is not a reward at the end of my American Journey, but comes through experiencing the chase, the famous “pursuit of happiness”.
One thing I have learned through my American Evolution is that only I can make me happy, nobody else, not even my spouse, my children, my family nor my friends.
I recently read a simple, little book by Martine Brennan called “Happiness – It’s Just A Habit.” I think Thomas Jefferson would recommend it as a companion guide for “the pursuit of happiness.”
Reading the insightful tips confirmed for me, there is only one person on this whole wide earth that can make me happy, and that is me.
“Happiness is not far away or in someone else’s hands. It is close
by, in your heart and in your mind. More especially, it is in the
things you do and don’t do. Happiness … it’s just a habit and, like
any habit, it can be learned.”
Over the coming days and weeks I plan to practice the tips and strategies suggested by Martine in her handbook. I’ll share some of my happiness discoveries along the way.
Join me on my journey, as I share my own personal “pursuit of happiness” through exercises recommended in this amazing, little guidebook.
Thanks Martine, for your expertise, and the wonderful signposts that point the way for my “pursuit of happiness”.
Slán agus beannacht leat!
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a free advanced copy of this book for review purposes. I do not receive payment for my book reviews. My first responsibility is to my readers and I am committed to honest reviews. All opinions given are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Links to the webpage for Martine Brennan’s book are provided to assist blog readers only. I do not participate in an affiliate sales program at the time of writing this post.