Is every decision we make affected by our pursuit of happiness?
I woke up this morning around 9:20am. I normally awake at 8 am daily but I felt that I needed some time to sleep in a bit. Once awake I took a quiet walk to the market for some groceries and enjoyed the remarkable view from the top of Nob Hill in San Francisco. I had a warm bowl of oatmeal for breakfast while reading a book I’ve been dying to finish. An event I was signed up for was cancelled due to the rainy weather, so I spent the rest of the morning conversing with the other residents in my building about their Friday night and upcoming weekend plans.
Every decision I made since the moment I woke up was either directly, or indirectly, effected by my pursuit of happiness.
Now I know that sounds crazy but I believe this to be true, not just in my life but in every persons life. Before I use the example above to prove it I’m going to clarify my use of the phrase “pursuit of happiness”.
“Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” ~ Aristotle
The pursuit of happiness is what drives the human life. It is what makes our brain give us rewards, like dopamine releases, for accomplishing tasks. This is what makes you want to go out on a Friday because you worked your ass off all week and deserve to have fun. It’s what makes your favorite food so good each time you have it. It’s what makes you apologize after wronging another, or feel guilt when you know you’ve done wrong.
Given the lasting impact from our pursuit of happiness, one can see how each decision I made this morning was effected by such.
I slept this morning to reward myself for waking up early every other day this week
I needed groceries so I accomplished that early to start the day, I was in no rush so I enjoyed the view I take for granted while I rush out for work during the week.
It’s been cold recently so I ate a hot breakfast to warm up and finished a book that’s been bugging me to finish since the halfway point.
The event I had been looking forward to for weeks was cancelled which also cancelled my whole day because everything I was to do was planned around that happening. But that’s why I took it upon myself to see if I could join others plans to fill in the void my failed plans had left.
In each decision I made my underlined cause was always in attempt to make myself happier whether presently or in the future. That’s why I wanted to sleep in, or start my day by doing chores, or even warm myself up from the cold, in the big picture perspective they were all attempts to make myself happy.
We as a people don’t associate a lot of what we do with our pursuit of happiness, because a lot of what we do is very mandatory for our lifestyles. This gives the perception of the task being “just a part of life” which makes it into something that cannot be avoided. When we take a step back and understand the underlined goal in those situations we can see that its only to improve on our current or future situation. From this perspective, having everyone reach that ultimate goal one step at a time is possible.
If being happy is truly the end game for human life, why is being happy so difficult at times. Is it called the pursuit of happiness because that’s what it always is, a pursuit. Or perhaps happiness is a state of mind rather than an achievable goal. Some will say happiness is but a side effect of a prosperous and fulfilling life. I would only say that happiness starts and ends with you.