Our Pursuit of Happiness

August 20, 2012
By JingzeWu BRONZE, Newton, Massachusetts
JingzeWu BRONZE, Newton, Massachusetts
4 articles 0 photos 0 comments

In Mandarin Chinese, the United States, America, translates to mei guo, which literally taken, is read “beautiful land.” Similar beliefs and anticipations, rooted deep within the language and culture of other peoples and originated from its first interactions with it, have defined America as nothing short of a utopia of prosperity and promise. Millions of people have set foot in America with just as high an expectation of success, wealth, and happiness. One can hardly ridicule the high standards set for our nation, even in times of recession and stagnation; for even ingrained within America’s founding doctrine is the seldom forgotten promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

However, the ingenuity of the phrasing of our declaration of independence parallels the thoroughness in consideration of the founding beliefs set upon this nation. Jefferson could have just as easily promised life, liberty, and happiness to all the citizens of the United States, as many new sovereignties of the Age of Revolution did; but the mere promise of happiness, even if taken as political rhetoric, contradicts the true principles of the American Spirit. And it is not the expectation of success, the anticipation of wealth and prosperity, but the endless pursuit of said happiness and the relentless driving spirit within an American that pushes each one of us to strive for further innovation and achievement that brought this nation its pride and patriotism.

And it is a similar shadow of expectation from our parents before us, the men and women who brought us to this country having such promises of opulence in mind, that drives each student to work towards excellence, outdo competition, and attempt to embody perfection in their lives. But each of us, part of a generation wandering out of adolescence and into adulthood, soon realize the true “freedom” behind the high expectations and anticipation of American life: not to be able to grasp success in our hands and to feel affluence within our prowess, but to pursue an indeterminate goal of constant self-improvement. In the end, it is not the finished product that truly gives us happiness, but the perpetual and relentless strife for innovation that gives us our pride. A man who stops at his first successful endeavor thinking he is content with the melancholy of one achievement has failed in the end.

One must consider how such an American society can ever truly achieve happiness if it is never content with its current being. If one is never content with the present, one is never content; therefore one is never happy. However, each of us has felt happiness in our lives, as to never feel happy is inhuman. This asymmetry, this seemingly paradoxical balance of the pursuit of innovation with the resulting content of the present is one that no one I know of has ever achieved flawlessly.

But once again, we are of the generation of constant improvement, part of a culture of innovation. The balance of the present with the future is just another goal to meet, and another milestone to catch. I challenge myself and every individual around me to pursue such a balance, and to pursue perfection. I challenge every one of us to continue our pursuit of happiness.

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