Pursuit Of Happiness A Fleeting Moment Of Self Satisfaction
Pursuit of Happiness: A Fleeting Moment of Self-Satisfaction
When we congratulate each other on an important event in our lives, an indispensable component of our wishes is happiness. We all have our own understanding of happiness. According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2008), one of the definitions of happiness is “a pleasurable or satisfying moment”. For some people satisfaction comes with money, for others with a good grade or a well-done job. Thus, happiness is extremely subjective: the sources of happiness are actually as different as the people who are looking for it. The main character of the film “Pursuit of Happyness” (Black, et al., & Muccino, 2006), Christopher Gardner, is looking for his happiness by overcoming life’s obstacles. We follow his conversion from a struggling and homeless single father to a successful stockbroker. The story of Chris Gardner shows that true happiness is a fleeting moment which comes from our desire to fulfill ourselves by staying committed to the dream and by grasping opportunities as they appear.
We experience happiness in transient moments, although we have to put a lot of effort and time to get it. Chris Gardner’s life moves at a rapid pace. This motion is underlined in the title “Pursuit of Happyness”. All the time he is running from one place to another, trying to get to work on time, to earn a living and to take care of his son. In his hardest moments, Chris starts to think over Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. Jefferson did not promise happiness for all Americans, but the right to pursue it. Gardner says, “Maybe happiness is something we can only pursue and never have it…” (Black et al., & Muccino, 2006). The movie shows that happiness is achievable. The fact is that nobody can give it to you; happiness is in a person’s own hands. We can get our moment of absolute happiness, though it might be a fleeting chapter in our lives. Happiness comes in short moments; the rest of the time we spend chasing it.
A short moment of happiness comes from being committed to the dream. Gardner’s commitment to his dream of a better future for himself and his son moves him on to success both financial and personal. At the very beginning of the movie, Gardner is shown as a struggling single father who is trying to make both ends meet. He takes responsibility to change his life. Despite the difficulties, Gardner is a person who does not betray his dream. He teaches his son ,”You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you, you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period” (Black et al., & Muccino, 2006). Many people who meet severe poverty would abandon their dreams. To give up is easier than to keep on trying. But Gardner wouldn’t get his fleeting moment of happiness if he did not take a risk and did not believe in himself. Csikszentmihalyi explains, “The best moments usually occur if a person’s body and mind are stretched to their limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile” (as cited in Abound, et al., 2007). Gardner does his best, up to the limits of his abilities. Due to all the obstacles he meets, the moment he gets his job is so rewarding to him. Overall, people who stay committed to their goals display inner strength and self-confidence to pursue happiness and accompanying it success.
Happiness is obtained when self-fulfillment is achieved. Gardner’s dream is far beyond gaining wealth. He wants to succeed personally, that includes being a good father for his son. Money is only one of the means to provide his son with a better future. Being a single father makes his life completely different. It would be much easier to fight while he is not tied to parental responsibilities. Gardner is accountable not just for himself, but for his son, too. Reaching the point of happiness becomes twice as hard for him. At the end of the movie, when he achieves his goals, “it does not finish with a shot of him driving the Ferrari he has always wanted or moving into the grand house on the hill, it just shows him walking down the street listening to his kid’s knock-knock jokes” (Bonn, 2006). So, very often happiness is not about financial success, but about self-satisfaction that comes with accomplished dreams.
To accomplish a dream we need to use every opportunity we can get. Gardner did not make his way to the dream on his own. Chris Jr. tells his father a story about a man trapped by a flood. He is waiting for God’s help and therefore he refuses two boats coming to save him. Then he dies and comes to heaven. He asks God why he didn’t save him. The answer was, “I sent you two boats, you dummy!” (Black, & Muccino, 2006). Ballor (2007) explains that the joke points out that God shows his providence through everyday things. It is hard, though, to see the opportunities the higher spirit gives to us among all the impediments we must get over. Sometimes it is not the boat we want to be in. Gardner does not want to look for a homeless shelter where he can eat enough and sleep safely. But even in his bad situation, there are some good things happening to him. He finds the machines he lost, he gets the Rubik’s cube, and he gets a chance for an internship at Dean Witter. Seeing the opportunities is half the job, to use them we must do substantial work. Gardner tries his hardest. If he were too desperate to see his boats or too afraid of the difficulties life sends him, he would drown as the man in the joke. Thus, our success depends, to a certain extent, on our ability to see the chances as they appear.
“Pursuit of Happyness” is a hard story to believe if you do not know that it is inspired by true facts. It shows us that the American dream can come true if there is enough effort put in it. The happiness of Christopher Gardner is a minute long shot. The rest of the movie he is chasing his dream to become a successful businessman and a good father. When it seems impossible to endure any more and he is close to despair, God sends him a rescue boat. We cannot but admire Gardner’s courage and persistence; in the end, those are attributes that help him to make his dream come true. Gardner is not the only one in his understanding of happiness. Many people will feel a flow of pleasure, realizing that their own expectations of themselves have been met, despite many hardships. Such moments are worth fighting for; they inspire us to go further and make our life meaningful.
Abound, A., Carter, C., Desan, P., Dr. Rashid, Gray, P., Setton, M. et al. (2007). History of happiness. Pursuit-of-happiness.org. Retrieved March 20, 2008 from http://ww.pursuit-of-happiness.org/projects.aspx
Ballor, J. (2007). Movie review: The pursuit of happyness. Blogcritics magazine. Retrieved from March 24, 2008 from http://www.blogcritics.org/archives/2007/01/30/223323.php
Black, T., Blumenthal, J., Lassiter, J., Smith, W., Tisch, S., Zee, T. (Producers), & Muccino, G. (Director). (2006, Dec. 15) Pursuit of happyness [Motion Picture]. United States: Columbia Pictures.
Bonn, R. (2006). Pursuing happiness. HollywoodJesus.com: Pop culture from a spiritual point of view. Retrieved March 24, 2008 from http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/movieDetail.cfm/i/8E7DE1DB-EDB5-AC46-191246993CBE93B1/a/1
Merriam-Webster online dictionary (2008) Retrieved March 23, 2008 from http://www.Meriam-Webster.com