5 Lessons From ‘The Pursuit Of Happyness’ That You Should Know

Your definition of happiness is unique to you.

Varun Joshi
Dec 14, 2020 · 7 min read
Will & Jaden Smith as Chris & Christopher Gardner. Source

Happiness is a weird feeling. You can’t really measure how happy you are, you can’t put a unit on it, but you can feel it. You can share your happiness with your loved ones, and in most cases, you make them happier as well!

Even then, how many people really achieve that awesome, blissful state? How many can honestly say they are happy in their life?

Maybe, it has something to do with a general definition of happiness. With increasing social media interference in our lives, we see people buying nice cars, huge homes & travelling to vacation destinations like Maldives. And we think, ‘This is what happiness looks like!’. Such thoughts plummet you into deeper sadness, wondering how and when you will lead a life like that.

The movie, ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ is based on Chris Gardner’s life. While this is based on a real life story of Chris Gardner (played by Will Smith), an American Businessman and founder of Gardner Rich & Co, the movie has a load of life lessons that are essential for everyone.

Throughout the movie, Chris is seen struggling with bills & rent, having to sell glorified X-Ray machines that give a denser bone image and cost twice as much, a wife who is working double shifts to make ends meet & his kid, Christopher who loves to play basketball and quite honestly, is a good kid who understands his family’s situation.

I’ve watched this move for so many times now, and it has always given me the courage to stand up to life and yell, “Bring it on!”. I watch it when I’m having a series of bad days at work, when I feel lost, and when I start focusing too much on if I’ll ever be as happy as the people on my Instagram.

I’ve gathered 8 lessons that I think everyone should know, that may light your road to finding your ‘happyness’.

Don’t listen to anyone but yourself

Not even your parents.

When Chris takes his son to play some basketball on a building rooftop, we see Christopher isn’t very good at it. Yet, he believes he can be a good player, to which Chris explains that he wasn’t very good at basketball growing up, and knowing how genes work, his son shouldn’t expect to be any more than an average player at max. Hearing this, his son throws the ball away and begins to pack up. Now, comes the best and my favourite quote from the movie.

Don’t ever listen to somebody telling you, you can’t do something, not even me. You got a dream, you gotta protect it. When people can’t do something themselves, they tell you can’t do something. You want something, go get it. Period.

Chris is going through the worst part of his life, with having no money for bills and rent and a dwindling marriage. Getting discouraged is easy, but believing and fighting back is tough and the one who doesn’t quit is often the one who succeeds.


Perseverance is the key to success

To persevere is to make a constant effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. Life is going grab you and pull you down, but making every effort to get back up and not quitting is key. You want that job? You have to do anything and everything that’s possible to get the job, follow up with people, make new acquaintances, learn something new. (Just make sure you don’t go overdo it and drive other people crazy! 😆)

When Chris wanted to get that internship at Dean Witter, he made sure he knew who was going to help him get it, he made a point to make a personal connection with the person, and solve a Rubik’s cube to get some attention. You see, the same tactic won’t work for you, you cannot go around solving a Rubik’s cube to get attention (thank god, I can never solve one in my life!).

Another example is when he misses that meeting with a potential client who could bring in loads of money into the firm, he goes around to the client’s house at the right time to get an invite to a football game (again, not suggesting you set up camp outside your boss’ house in search of a raise.)

You need to make every effort and try every alternative to get what you want.

Setbacks are a part of life

I’ve started thinking that are no failures in life. They’re mere setbacks, a temporary delay in reaching your destination.

If you fail at nailing that job interview, chances are you will find another job, sometimes even a better one. This is a personal lesson that I hold very close to my heart.

I left my last job without having another one in hand, trying to switch technologies from an App developer to a Web developer after just 18 months of corporate experience. I gave a couple of interviews, and didn’t do very well, even though I was confident in my abilities. But that’s just how life is! You are going to do everything right, but if it doesn’t work out, it just doesn’t.

I later got an excellent job where I was able to grow and take on responsibilities and be happy in my work.

If you are facing setbacks from life right now, know that it’s normal and for the best. The harder you press a spring the larger it will jump when finally released.

Chris faces a number of setbacks, from his bone density scanner being stolen to being arrested for not paying parking tickets. But that doesn’t make him not go for that interview, which he nails despite of looking, well to put it nicely, underdressed.

Which brings me to the next lesson.

Always have a sense of humour, no matter the situation you’re in

Imagine how you’d feel, if you had just been arrested while you were painting your apartment, dressed in a white vest and jacket, with white paint all over your face and clothes, going into a job interview that will probably change your life?

I know I would probably call to reschedule, be too embarrassed to show up and pass on the opportunity.

But Chris went in, knowing he wasn’t looking very good and his chances were slim, but the moment you see him enter the room, he is extremely confident and tries to accept the situation as it is.

When the owner / senior guy asks him,

What would you say if a man walked in here with no shirt on, and I hired him?

To which Chris replies,

He must have had on some really nice pants.


Now that’s something. It shows Chris is comfortable with the situation and knows how to turn a tense situation around without pressing the panic button, which is an extremely important quality in most jobs today.

Most pursuits for happiness may never end

Let’s face it. Human Beings are greedy. Whenever we achieve something, we feel happy, but the next day, we wake up wanting more.

Our definitions of happiness are unique, but they tend to change every now and then. Very few people attain true and total happiness, and it’s okay to not be one of them.

As we attain our goals, we go on to update our definitions and we keep pursuing happiness, and we may never totally achieve it.

Often times, when you achieve a life goal that gives you happiness, that little feeling of happiness is very short lived. The journey to your goal is the beautiful part, the learnings, the ups and downs, the setbacks, all of it. That makes you grow as a person, reaching the destination is your reward.

This movie has given me a lot of motivation and courage to face difficulties and get over bad days. The movie is full of life lessons, and listing just 5 was a hard task.

Chris Gardner’s story is incredible, probably one of the most motivational and inspirational stories I’ve ever watched. The things he has faced in his life, it’s astounding how he kept going.

The real Chris Gardner Source

But hope the movie, and this article gives you courage to move forward in your pursuit!

Define your own happiness, and pursue it!


We curate outstanding articles from diverse domains and…

Varun Joshi

Written by

A Software Engineer turned writer. Udacity Full-stack Nanodegree Grad. Contributor to The Startup, Level Up Coding & Codeburst.io.


We curate and disseminate outstanding articles from diverse domains and disciplines to create fusion and synergy.

Varun Joshi

Written by

A Software Engineer turned writer. Udacity Full-stack Nanodegree Grad. Contributor to The Startup, Level Up Coding & Codeburst.io.


We curate and disseminate outstanding articles from diverse domains and disciplines to create fusion and synergy.

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