Life, Liberty And The Pursuit Of Happiness

Motivation – Get Happy And Live Life.

When he was drafting the American Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson stated that ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ were three of the ‘inherent and inalienable rights’ and ‘sacred and undeniable for all people’.

Yet, as a psychologist who works with people to help them achieve what they are capable of, I often come across people who are struggling, who are finding it difficult to cope with life and its numerous and incessant problems.

Although we may be in a bit of an economic downturn, many people now enjoy a better life-style when compared with, say, 50 years ago. The conundrum for me is that while many people’s material well-being has improved, this does not seem to be reflected in their levels of psychological well-being.

Rather it seems to have led to increased pressures and anxieties.

There are lots of people who have achieved material success, often beyond their dreams, but who are miserable and unhappy. ‘Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ seems to have become far more complicated to achieve, as modern life has become more complex and people more prosperous.

When I ask, ‘Just what is it you want from life?’, the sorts of answers people usually give me boil down to the fact that they mostly want to be happy and live contented and fulfilling lives. Setting goals and cultivating aspirations are two key areas of human endeavour which can provide you with the motivation to allow you to choose what sort of life you want to lead to achieve happiness.

At an everyday level, you may be motivated to make something happen, either at home or at work, to support your family or friends. And on a practical level, you may well prefer to focus your efforts on something that seems well within your capabilities, enabling to you to achieve a positive outcome.

On the other hand, don’t knock visionary goals and high-flying aspirations that you might nurture, as these provide momentum and energy. They enable people to achieve amazing successes which have substantially contributed to the fabric of modern western society, such as the invention of the internet or the production of great art. I believe that having goals and aspirations provides you with the drive to explore and expand your possibilities, as well as the opportunity to stretch your boundaries. This gives you the freedom to become your own person, achieve a sense of purpose and pursue happiness and fulfilment.

This is my column, published in the Western Daily Press, Wednesday, 26 February 2014 read it here.