What was Jefferson talking about!?
In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Have you ever wondered what Jefferson was really talking about when he spoke of happiness?
Historically, dating back to ancient Greece, happiness was thought of an external force, more like “good fortune.” It was something that a person had no control over. It’s not really clear when the definition of happiness changed toward the idea of it being an internal idea.
As with any word that adapts, it’s hard to pinpoint when the usage changed, but some historians suggest it was during the Age of Enlightenment. This is when religion shifted from an attitude of “How can I be saved?” to “How can I be happy?”
We’re all searching for happiness
The Declaration of Independence gave way to the pursuit of happiness. America became known as the land of opportunity. Many people associate happiness with the accumulation of wealth or other tangible item, maybe a degree or an expensive car. Although happiness is an internal feeling, the search for it becomes external.
I don’t think you can buy happiness. In fact, trying to find happiness in this fashion could actually be detrimental. When you focus on trying to find this feeling, you aren’t able to focus on what you do have. What happens when you get that thing that you went after? So you bought a new car. Are you satisfied? Maybe for a little while, but what do you do when that feeling wears off? You go after the next thing. And so on. It becomes an addiction that you have to feed.
So where can happiness be found?
Happiness shouldn’t rely on external factors. It has to come from within yourself. I think happiness is a contentment with your life. It’s found in the relationships your build with others. Sure, there’s a time to seek after external things.
But you need to focus on what is in your life. Instead of working 60 hours a week, make time to relax and enjoy life where you’re at. Happiness will find you.