I was watching the movie “In Pursuit of Happyness” starring Will Smith on HBO last night. It tells the story of Chris Gardner, a single father, a struggling sales man who was top of his high school class and above all, a man who is resourceful, determined and while being hurled a series of setback, maintains a pleasant and positive disposition.
While I was watching the movie, I felt somehow stressed when I watched what he had to go through. His wife lost respect for him and eventually left him, his struggle as a portable bone density scan machine salesman, juggling between his work and providing his son a “normal” life, being evicted from his rented apartment and then his hotel, queuing up at the shelter building, running after his stolen machine while lugging his remaining machine along, being subjected to all sorts of pressure as an intern for a stockbroker company, etc.
*Whew* just listing all the trial and tribulation of his life made me tired. I would have broken down way before he did. And yet, he managed to go through everything with grace and dignity, and along the way did not screw up his son.
And then, like most viewers, I cheered him on, waiting for him to succeed in the end. Well, it’s an American movie. You’ve got to have a happy ending although I am not sure whether it was based on a true story.
Will Smith played the role well and one of his finest acting was the final part, after he was told that he had been selected to work for the company. He was teary when he heard the news and then he walked out from the building. Not having anyone to share this big moment with, he celebrated by himself right in the middle of the crowd. The triumph and happiness were evident on his face and body language. It was really the defining moment of the whole movie. He finally got his happyness.
Then, I started thinking about the whole movie. In pursuit of happiness, what does it mean? Sure, everybody wants to be happy but in the end, how do you define happiness and whether it is achievable?
Now that I am older, I have come to realise that most people I know, if not all, are somehow unhappy about their lives (myself included). There is always something wrong, or something to complain about. Then, I came to the conclusion that, nobody is 100% happy. But then, you know what? I also realise that nobody is 100% miserable as well. There is always something which we can all be thankful for.
So, then, maybe in our life, while we are not able to pursue 100% happiness, there are certain moments in life which will give us some form of happiness, even momentarily. Perhaps, we all need to understand that life is a challenge and we cannot hope or expect to have everything that we want, but happiness does knock on our doors and we need to learn to see and appreciate it.
For Chris Gardner, the feeling of pure happiness came, when he was selected out of 20 interns, to work for a reputable firm. He will continue to face new challenges but at that moment, he had it.
Happiness comes in different ways and at different times. It comes when a child is invited to play, when a girl is asked for a date by a boy she has a huge crush on, when a man marries the woman he loves, when the sky clears up after a stormy night, when a baby is borne, when a child does well in school, when a sick mother gets well, when a father receives a letter from his daughter in college, when someone receives gratitude, etc.
We will all continuously face difficult times throughout our whole lives, but it doesn’t mean we can never be happy.
I think happiness is when you don’t seek to pursue it, but to embrace it when it comes.
Written on 12 October 2008