The Pursuit Of Happiness

“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.

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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.”

 

- Martine Brennan, author of Happiness – It’s Just A Habit.

 

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.

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Comments

  1. I am delighted that you are finding the ‘happy’ book so useful Mairead. It is such a joy when we discover that happiness is neither difficult or complicated but rather a matter of paying attention to the simple pleasures of life. I look forward to your adventures along the way. We can often be surprised by what makes us truly happy!

  2. Grammy says:

    Need. This. Book. Thank you for recommending it!

  3. Mairead, what a great post! I was just thinking about contentment and satisfaction earlier today while working on a post for next week. Love your thoughts and look forward to the tips you share in the future!

    • Thanks Cheryl. Towards the end of Martine’s book she says “Always remember that the happiest people are those who know what they enjoy doing and do it often. Make sure you are one of those people. No one else can do it for you.” That quote really resounds with me, because the older I get the more I realize how true these words are.

    • Mairead took what I wrote and really made it her own and I love that too Cheryl!

  4. We are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. No words make me feel prouder, thanks for the reminder.

  5. Mairead, hello. Your post is brilliant.

    I suffered a horrendous childhood and wasted many years of my life UNhappy and angry. It was only after therapy and self-healing did I learn that the key to happiness was within me the whole time. I have the power. Just like YOU said, “only I can make me happy, nobody else, not even my spouse, my children, my family nor my friends.” I say the same thing (not verbatim) but I add, THEY add to my happiness.

    I’m really glad I clicked over to your blog from Grammy’s. I will be back to enjoy your journey with you!

  6. Vladimir says:

    I think what the founding fathers meant by “right to pursuit happiness” is political statement, which means that USA recognizes officially that this is normal part of every human. It may look too idealistic or unrealistic. Many people will say it is obvious anyway. However, I think it is very important that it was written there in this particular language. The word “pursuit” is very important.
    There were and there still are so many oppressive governments and societies in the world. Even those which are officially “democracies”, even those which have parliaments for hundreds of years. In some countries people are told to be happy because of religious reasons, in other countries people feel they must be happy because of royal event, in some other countries people are ordered to be happy because of great war victories, etc. No other country officially recognizes the fact that it is part of human nature to “pursuit” happiness. It may look idealistic but still it is important.
    There are no ideal societies of Earth, however, been born in USSR, I can honestly say some societies are much much better than others. If you don’t believe me, ask North Koreans who managed to escape. I think USA is the best for the pursuit of happiness overall. Not least because it recognizes it officially as important right of every american citizen.

    • Vladimir – It is nice to hear your perspective, especially since you have experienced how others interpret the right to happiness. Thanks so much for your input.

      • Vladimir says:

        Thank you for your perspective. And for the link to the book. Also, thank you for been brave and sharing your thoughts. Have you always been like that or you think US influenced you in becoming more open? I know you’re Irish, maybe Irish are different, however I can’t imagine such blog in UK. English are very… you know…. reserved…. (too much in my opinion, way too much).

        • Vladimir – I think Irish people are probably far less reserved than English people. We have always loved to tell and share stories – it is part of our culture. Luckily here in America people seem to like hearing and reading my stories. Thanks for your kind words and have a lovely weekend.

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