“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.“
Nothing says 4th of July like fireworks, hamburgers, watermelon… and now, Hamilton! Ok, to be fair, we didn’t set off or watch any fireworks, but we did manage to do the rest and our neighbors were happy to rattle our windows with illegal fireworks all night long. And if you didn’t catch Hamilton on Disney+, you should. It is an amazing performance! It is also a good and timely reminder that this liberty stuff is a difficult and messy business.
The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness requires work, struggle and constant vigil. I was struck by those words this weekend, especially the well-chosen phrase, “pursuit of happiness.” Happiness is fleeting but it is worth pursuing. It is a constant race and requires work, energy and patience. The reward set before us is joy, happiness, a smile and a feeling of satisfaction. What does that pursuing happiness look like to you?
Happiness can be found in work. I have found that some of life’s greatest moments are at the other end of hard work and effort. There is a great happiness that can be found in a job well done, the accomplishment and the fruit of hard labor. It could be a project completed as a team at work, a repair job on the house, a problem solved, or a volunteer effort accomplished. In our knowledge worker world, that effort is more mental than muscular, but it is “work” none the less. The effort to solve complex problems and the mental energy to design, and create software, systems and processes is both taxing and rewarding. The beautiful paradox is that something that can be difficult, painful and fraught with anguish, results in a moment of happiness, delight and satisfying accomplishment.
Happiness can be found in giving. Sure, personal rest and relaxation are good. We need to ensure we are not all work and no play. Planned time off and vacation (remember when we used to be able to travel?) are great ways to celebrate and enjoy the fruits of our labors. But I have found there is another key to unlocking happiness that isn’t about us. It is about others. I have noticed that when I invest my own energy, time and resources in helping others there is an incredible joy dividend that I get back. We are at our best when we are helping each other. Programmed into the universe and our DNA is a virtuous reciprocity that happiness comes when we consider others, prioritize their needs above our own, champion for justice, and seek to do good. I know I can do more of this.
Today, I challenge you all to think about how you are pursuing happiness. What does it look like for you? Find your path to happiness. Look for it in your work, in your learning and in your giving, then run after it and enjoy it. I wish you happiness this week and always!