Pursuit of Happiness, No. 3

The Pursuit of Happiness Game
Michael Gollin
August 2014


I adapted this from “I went on a trip and in my grandmother’s trunk I put….”  We used to play that on family car trips when I was growing up.

For 3 or more players who are able to be together and put away their phones for a while. Try with family and friends, for example on a long car trip, as we did. You will be surprised.

The first person says: What makes me happy is (pick an item beginning with the letter A).
The second person says: What makes me happy is (repeat the first person’s A item and pick an item beginning with B).
The third person says: What makes me happy is (repeat the first person’s A item, the second person’s B item, and pick an item beginning with C).

And continue so on around the group to Z.

Saying what makes you happy, hearing what makes others happy, and memorizing and repeating this communal list as part of the game is a good way to pass time happily and learn something about what each of you like.


Pursuit of Happiness, No.2

Pursuit of Happiness

Experiment #2

Draw 4 columns on a sheet of paper or create a table using your computer.

In the first column, list all activities that make you happy. (Hopefully that’s a long list.)

In the second, list activities that make you unhappy. (Hopefully, short.)

In the third, list the opposites of the 2nd column. Rank the activities in the 1st and 3rd column in significance.

In the 4th, list the top ranked activities. Do some of them every day, and work towards doing others.

Make note of the results.

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.