Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Part 3: Happiness vs Joy

This is the third and last of a three part series on Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, wrapping up with happiness. Coming from the first line of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, these inalienable rights for all make up the foundation of our society. Not to be viewed as an ancient scroll but a living manifesto of the U.S., it is something that any shade of American can hold as their own. Left or Right, all people in the melting pot can subscribe to this. The Constitution is what sets it in practice. While the Constitution has mechanisms to adapt to the times, its strength comes from being nearly timeless. It’s important to note that these rights are not given by man but by the Creator or for you atheists out there, nature. The point is still sound; the Founders recognized a truth, a truth that mankind’s basic rights are not subject to the will of those who hold power. These are your rights. You own them. The original entitlement. This is what makes us, U.S.. Don’t throw them away. Embrace them for yourself and those around you.

I’ve been chewing on happiness for a while. This has been the most difficult of the three rights to write upon. What is happiness? Merriam-Webster defines it as “feeling pleasure and enjoyment of life, situation, etc,”.  Ok, that’s easy to grasp. Happiness is a vague and general term that can change from one person to another. There is no doubt when you feel it. If I were to ask you if you could recognize when you feel happy, you wouldn’t hesitate to answer, “yes”. You know what it is.

Ask yourself this, are you happy now? When was the last time you felt happy? Are you happy often? Don’t you deserve to be happy?

Now seriously, think about that for a second. Really. How often do you think about the happiness in your life? Do you lack happiness or are you overflowing with it? Why is that for you? Do you know why? Do you know the root cause of your happiness or lack of?

Defining what happiness is, is the easy part. Finding and maintaining it is difficult. I would like to define happiness into two categories. The first is what I think many confuse with the second, and that is a shallow, self serving, “happy”. A materialistic and consuming happiness. It’s the feeling you get when you go shopping and grab a new pair of shoes, get likes on Instagram for that cute selfie, or even a first date. When I say shallow, I don’t mean it in a deragatory way, just simply, that it lacks depth. It’s fleeting, circumstantial, and momentary.

The second, is a profound, selfless, purpose driven joy. It’s Love or service to others without repayment. This one is expensive however. Not in money of course, it’s a different kind of currency. A currency of the soul. It requires that you pay in time, attention, and dedication. It requires growth and perseverance.

Happiness is something that has been written about since the start of time for us. We the people though have been losing sight of what that means and have been confusing the selfie happiness for selfless joy. American’s are notorious for consuming. We consume materials, things, money, time, and people.

An abundance of likes is not equal to abundant joy. This isn’t a tirade on the shallow happiness and by no means seek to avoid it. It happens all the time. Just recognize it for what it is. What I am advocating, is the pursuit of joy. Dive deeper than the whimsical happy. Get your hands dirty. Commit your heart. Suffer the pain that can come from the risk of opening your soul.

As a man of faith, I draw unending joy from the pursuit of the power of God and the blessings put upon me, like my family and fiancé. I highly recommend it but if you’re not there, simply looking up from the phone or beyond the mall could be a great step for you.

The Forefathers knew that happiness is different for all. You have the right to pursue it anyway you choose. Free will is an awesome thing. However as a man who has chased the cheap and moved towards the deep, I recommend taking the dive.

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