The Pursuit of Happiness (How far will you go for it?)

January 24, 2008          Comments (14)

Ever since I graduated college, I have been obsessed with figuring out what makes me happy. I think the pursuit of happiness is by far the most important pursuit. And the pursuit started only after college because that was the first time I could truly be or do anything I wanted.

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” -Aristotle

When I was at Ernst & Young, it was kind of freaking me out that I wasn’t that happy…or as happy as I could be…based on my past happiness.

But the question, “How Happy Are You” is unreliable.

I cannot measure my happiness in absolute terms, so I have to answer in relative terms. I have to think, “Compared to Bob, I’m so happy, but compared to Doug, I’m not.” Or I have to think, “Compared to when I broke my foot 3 days before my Bar Mitzvah (true story!), I’m happy, but compared to when I thought I fell in love I’m not.”

And am I thinking of my momentary happiness, my happiness over the last hour, or my happiness over the past year? If it is momentary happiness, what if I have spent the last minute reflecting on bad childhood memories? Should I say that I am unhappy? Maybe 10 minutes from now I will be reflecting on fond memories. Should I then say that I am happy?

What makes me happy might not make you happy. And what makes you happy might not make me happy.

I believe one sure way to be unhappy is to settle for mediocrity. Actually, I think settling in any facet of your life is a sure way to be unhappy. That’s unforgivable.

I think the subject of happiness is fascinating. After all, we are all here only one time. Why wouldn’t you want to be as happy as possible? I’m determined to live the best and happiest life I can. I want to live the life of my dreams. I have way too much at stake not to.

Don’t we all though?

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  1. Adam – love this post!

    I have a question for you – Where do you want me to comment on here or facebook because I see a lot of people are commenting there too??

    Comment by a — January 24, 2008 @ 1:05 pm

  2. a,

    Wherever makes you happy! 🙂


    Comment by Adam Gilbert — January 24, 2008 @ 2:38 pm

  3. Adam,

    Fascinating writing, dude. Seriously, it’s like reading my own thoughts. I left the engineering world of Toyota and spent 10 years (and counting, I think) searching for what makes me happy. (I’ve certainly gotten closer, but there’s more digging, I believe!)

    I don’t know where I heard this, but the question was posed to me about that saying, “The Pursuit of Happiness.” Do we pursue happiness, or is happiness itself a pursuit?

    In other words, is happiness a destination, or is happiness a continual flow? Or both? Personally, I now think happiness = pursuing happiness.

    It’s like when you have a first date with the hottest chick ever. We’re happy even BEFORE the date, aren’t we? We’re happy just thinking about it’s reality, just preparing for it, just planning it. So before anything actually happens, we are still happy in the pursuit.

    Eric Patrick Marr
    (also of Mind Petals)

    Comment by Eric Patrick Marr — January 24, 2008 @ 4:31 pm

  4. Eric,

    Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad that you are on your way to happiness!

    That’s a very interesting point that you bring up. I agree with you but I also believe that happiness is a choice.


    Comment by Adam Gilbert — January 24, 2008 @ 7:01 pm

  5. This is an amazing post Adam, you certainly have your way with words!

    Comment by Lori — January 25, 2008 @ 2:07 pm

  6. Thanks, Lori. I appreciate it!

    Comment by Adam Gilbert — January 26, 2008 @ 11:20 am

  7. […] Life is too short to not feel amazing as often as you can. […]

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  8. […] So that means success has nothing to do with money and everything to do with happiness?! So wouldn’t that mean all you need to do is figure out ways to make yourself as happy as possible and to stop doing things that make you unhappy? […]

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  9. […] I’ve been writing about happiness lately because I believe that is the point of everything we do. In fact, writing this blog makes me happy whether 1 person reads it or 5000. […]

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  11. […] I don’t think we should ever regret anything in our lives that has made us happy – at one point. […]

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  13. I think one of the keys to true happiness is the ability to delay gratification. I really responded to your post because I’ve been thinking about this very thing recently. A few weeks ago, I broke up with my boyfriend. Deep down, I knew there were things that just weren’t right and I didn’t want to settle. But now I’m single again (and I truly don’t like being single– I’m a relationship girl) and I find myself thinking about how great the moments were when we were first falling in love, before many of these issues surfaced. And in those early moments, I was truly happy. And now, not so happy. Yet, I know I did the right thing by not settling. For some reason, that makes me feel “right” but not necessarily “happy.” So I guess for happiness and ‘not settling’ to co-exist, it must have something to do with delayed gratification. Or maybe just the acceptance that while happiness is fleeting– a temporary feeling that can come and go in any given moment– knowing you made a decision that was right but didn’t make you feel happy, is always the correct path because that happiness you felt would have slipped away anyway and what would you be left with then?

    Comment by Christine — June 26, 2010 @ 7:35 pm

  14. happiness is being ur true self not due to some social pressure but being the person u want to be as our creator wanted us to be . spreading love and peace whereever u go .when ur positive vibrations reach oters thier innerself sends good feeling and positive vibes to you too thus making u happy so if u want to be happy make them happy who r in dire need of happiness n love n care n compassion

    Comment by priya — August 13, 2010 @ 1:14 am

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