Why the “Pursuit of Happyness” Has Got It All Wrong

Don’t start cursing me; I love the movie just as much as you!

Will Smith does an incredible job and the fact that it is a mostly true story of Chris Gardner’s life makes it even more powerful. I just can’t get past my dislike of the title. One of my pet peeves is people who walk around saying they “just want to be happy.” I know, maybe I’m taking it too literally, but at the same time, I believe there is merit to how this is a harmful way to think.

One of my top three favorite books is A Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl.

I’ve been waiting for the right moment to write about this because it is as moving and powerful as anything I’ve ever read. It is the only book I’ve read more than 5 times, cover to cover, and it blows me away every time.

Warning: It is not a “feel good” book, nor is it light. It is deep and heavy content, but so worth reading if you are emotionally prepared for the wisdom you will gain from it.

The first time I came across the following passage in it I was amazed at how it gripped me. I reread it at least a dozen times that same hour and it has since become part of my personal vision for living.

Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!— success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.

I implore you to write this out. Modify it to make it you. Word it so it speaks to you, if needed. Meditate on it. Study it. Pray about it. Teach it to your children and anyone else who will listen. Shout it from the mountaintops.

It is that powerful and will change your life!

I’ve always believed that “joy” is the true goal. Happiness is circumstantial. Today I sold some widgets, I am happy. It’s sunny today, I am happy. Today my team won, I am happy. You get my point.

Joy is a constant. Of course, we have ebbs & flows, peaks & valleys, etc. But when we are purposefully living and focused on carrying out our true calling, there is a deeper sense of something more than just happiness. There is more of a peaceful, consistent joy within us.

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