In Pursuit of HappYness

I’ve always liked Will Smith, since the Fresh Prince of Bel Air days. I thought that sitcom was hilarious, and have since associated him with either comedy or sitcom shows. Two years ago I watched him starring in ‘In Pursuit of HappYness’ and towards the end, I cried buckets. A month before I watched the movie I read the real story from which the movie is based upon on Reader’s Digest. I then made a mental note not to miss the movie then.

Last night over late night Ugandan coffee at my favorite cafe, the cafe owner was sharing with me her own journey in business, the hardship, the ups and downs, the uncertainty– you know the works… Till she and her husband are where they are now. To anyone who knows them, they must be one of the happiest family around. Close knitted, loving and very humble. And very intact too. One thing that struck me was that she said, ‘ We are very happy because susah senang kita satu family bersama..‘ Through good times and bad times, they make sure they stick through thick and thin together.

However, she also shared that she has customers from all walks of life to her cafe, and this also includes a very rich group of ladies with a certain title to their names. These ladies, according to her, must have had all the money to buy anything they need in this world, what more what they want. But.. as she observed, they do not seem happy. A few of them have even told her outright that they find life to be so meaningless.

A friend of mine recently wrote on her blog that ‘… unfortunately its always MONEY that makes one happy. it would be total denial if someone said money does not make them happy. denial and ignorance’…

so she said. Is it true? That if there are people who said that money does not make them happy, they are in denial and are ignorant?

I know someone who really does not have much money. As the peribahasa says, kais pagi, makan pagi.. kais petang, makan petang. But mind you, she has the biggest heart, the biggest love to share and the happiest smile. And likewise, I also do know of people here and elsewhere who seems to have it all, materially. BUT, as someone trained in the field of psychology, its enough for me to see that they are not quite alright, you get the drift?

The character Will Smith played in In Pursuit of HappYness found happiness in money so that he could give his son a proper home and food to eat. But the rich ladies at the cafe are a bunch of unhappy people despite the thousands stacked up in their bank accounts. And a lady I personally know is just happy having enough for herself.

So what is happiness then ? There is no one size fits all definition of happiness, I’m sure. Another friend just mentioned to me the other day that she is very happy with her life now, but sad that she doesn’t have a marriage partner as yet. There you go, even in happiness, there is always one thing we are not happy about. We are after all humans and more often than not, we are and will never be satisfied with whatever that has been granted to us.

Having said that, I can claim that I am generally happy with my life right now. We are not rich but we are not starving either. We have a good roof over our head and we can still indulge in some things that we like to do. Of course, our life is not perfect, and there will always be things that I am sad about. But I have to constantly remind myself that it is how I look at life is what that determines my happiness. Not what I have.


14 thoughts on “In Pursuit of HappYness

  1. happiness to me is when im with my loved ones, be it family or friends. it doesn’t mean anything if we have all the money in the world but we can’t share it with the ones we love. it’s just pitiful and lonely.

    my 2 cents worth.

  2. I really need to watch that movie… Everyone recommends it…

    Yeah… Happiness is difficult to define, I think. There’s always something else to want, something else to need, and I guess that’s never going to stop.
    So perhaps it’s fair to say that happiness would be being able to enjoy what you have, and be in a good state of health (mentally, physically, and spiritually) to be able to enjoy that. Yet, at the same time, we should be able to enjoy the anticipation of getting something new, without the need consuming us…

  3. My take is, happiness is when one finds peace.
    Peace with him/herself,
    peace with his/her environment,
    peace with his/her Creator…

  4. percicilan,
    I watched IPoH a few months ago, I didn’t cry until the public bathroom scene. I looked at Will Smith’s expression when he blocked the door with his feet, and I was bawling my eyes out.
    All the debate about happiness and money I think it boils down to (as you wrote) how we look at our lives.
    In the mean time I’m trying to picture the unfortunate people living in below poverty level, disease and sickness, what is happiness to them?

  5. Hmm,not many people can say this perhaps, but me and the husband, we had the opprtunity to go through what Will Smith went thru in that movie.

    So after watching the movie, we both agreed that “hey, we have been through all that and more and we survived right?”

    The only thing that kept me going then was the fact that Allah had promised to test us only with what our shoulders can bear.

    Am I happier now? Hmmm, perhaps. But more importantly, we are much wiser and we know for a fact that what doesn’t kill us will only make us stronger.

  6. Ana,
    I cried at that point too. When I saw the pained look when he blocked the toilet door with his leg and clasping his mouth to prevent him from crying.

    I once read in an issue of Reader’s Digest about a terminally ill man, he had brain tumour. He wrote that he is the happiest man on earth because God gave him ‘warning’ before taking his life and his illness time is time for him to remember HIM. Had he been healthy while his life is taken away, he won’t know if he will die remembering God. At least with a terminal illness, each day he thanked God for all that he was given throughout his life, and build and repair his relationship with God. He died as a staunch Christian, as reported on a footnote by the editor.

    … and Ana,
    Thanks for your blog about letting go. I did just that and now can claim I am at least 60% happier, thanks to you 🙂

  7. Rozas,
    Yeah… hardship is building our spiritual immune system. I totally agree to that.
    And kudos to you and your husband for surviving whatever comes along your way 🙂

  8. I’m quite content with the way things are going in my life 🙂 hehe sometimes am happy sometimes are just mundane.

    One thing my wife notice though was during my lean period (this is 2003) when I’m in between jobs and money was tight I was a grumpier person. So I guess financial condition to be honest does have very important role in a person’s life.

  9. i dont thk money can buy happiness..maybe temporary illusion of u can buy something, and then feel happy for a shortwhile about it..then what next? it does help to ease the pain of misery sometimes..but also temporary eh?

    sometimes you travel to countries..and i see that as long as the basic necessities are there, i dont think the people are unhappy with the little they have.. i read somewhere that the country with the highest happiness quotient is bhutan..n the people arent very rich too.

  10. Is,
    I read the report on Bhutan too. And the other country with the highest happiness quotient I read about is Nigeria. And really, they are because there are so many Nigerian post grad students in Malaysia and I know quite a few of them, generally they are always smiling and happy. And I see the way they live even here, very ala kadar.. but they are so happy.

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