Pursuit of Happiness, No. 1

Pursuit of Happiness
Michael Gollin
August 2014

Our inalienable rights include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, according to the Declaration of Independence. Apparently Jefferson improvised that delightful last clause instead of using a more conventional list (life, liberty, property). From then until now, many have observed that the famous trio includes no right to be happy, but rather the right to pursue happiness.

The pursuit of happiness is a good organizing principle and can be used in personal decision-making to choose what to do or not do. Spiritual leaders, philosophers, and psychologists point out that finding a higher purpose, such as helping others, is one proven way to pursue happiness. There’s even a group of educators who use the phrase as their name: http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/.

Much of the trouble in the world does seem to involve people who are unable to pursue their own happiness, or people who can but don’t. For some reason, even though I am terminally ill, and losing physical abilities, I am often quite happy. I don’t fully understand why, but I do know that I pursue happiness wholeheartedly. I decided to begin exploring and sharing some things I do and some activities I made up — simple things anyone can do in pursuit of happiness.

How to be happy has been a recurring theme in my writings. Now, Pursuit of Happiness will become an occasional series on my blog. I hope that it helps you realize your rightful pursuits.


Pursuit of Happiness: Experiment #1

When you awake in the morning, wonder to yourself:
How can I help my family?
How can I help other people?

When you are going to bed, ask yourself:
How did I help my family today?
How did I help other people?

Do this for a week. Note how you feel when you awake, and when you fall asleep.


4 thoughts on “Pursuit of Happiness, No. 1

  1. I love this brief piece, and hope that you will find much happiness through the help you are giving people with ALS, their loved ones, and the ignorant masses such as I, who stand to learn so much through you. Your writings are well-crafted, informative and a pleasure to read. My thoughts are often with you. I wonder how you are faring, coping, living with ALS. I’ve only begun reading from your blog, so I’ll continue getting to know you through that channel.

  2. Dear, dear Michael. You are a wise teacher and guide. Thank you for this.
    In 1573 you had a kindred spirit in Torquato Tasso:
    “All time is truly lost and gone
    Which is not spent in serving love.”
    Love to you, from me.


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