Sophia Donan, Staff Writer
On Jan. 11, 2015, sometime in the early hours of the morning I was leaning against a window thousands of feet above the Pacific Ocean, gazing at the stars. There were no city lights to dim their luminance, no clouds to cloak their beauty as they fill the darkness of the world with light. Never before had I seen such a beautiful view, and on that flight from Manila to Seattle I could not help but think about my own happiness as I gazed at those stars.
At some point, it can begin to feel as if we have stopped living and we are simply alive. We go through our daily routines and responsibilities and seldom stop to think about who we truly are, once all the pressures of the world are released.
In America, happiness and the pursuit of it seems to have always been sold to society as a product. This unattainable goal that when reached will potentially end all of life’s woes and hardships. But never have I believed that anyone should define us, or who we are; because of that I decided to head out onto campus, camera in hand, and ask students to tell me what the pursuit of happiness means to them.
For some, they knew immediately how to explain what the pursuit of happiness means, and how it has impacted their lives. For others, there were moments of pause as they scrambled to weave together the right words in their response. But regardless of who I spoke to, it was clear that all the students agreed that their happiness is not only attainable, but that they may already be living it.
The problem with the pursuit is it that it will forever be a changing path, and a changing goal. Our plans can collapse at any second, and we all are left fumbling through the pages of our lives trying to do everything we are supposed to do, and do it in the most enjoyable way possible. In my time with these students, I came to the conclusion that our fulfillment of happiness may not be found at this goal, but that happiness may just be in the pursuit itself.
Mekedes: “The pursuit of happiness to me is finding the right path that leads to eternal happiness. And I find that through my family and friends, the path that leads you to figuring out who you are, and who you want to be in life. My family’s encouragement has allowed me to find my own pursuit of happiness in terms of understanding who I am, as I am the first generation to attend college. Its allowed me to understand my surroundings, love myself, and just go forward in life being positive and happy.”
Kyle: “It’s finding something that you love, and something that you completely enjoy doing, and then doing it every day for the rest of your life, that’s the pursuit of happiness. Or finding someone that you want to spend your life with, and spending your life with them. Find something that you’re passionate about, and then find yourself through that passion.”
Steffany: “To take care of my family, and to take care of my cousins. To be successful. That’s my pursuit of happiness.”
Fiona: “I re-began my college career because I knew I was going to need the ability to be independent. I chose mathematics specifically because it was something that I absolutely loved, I had such a passion for it, and at the same time it was still applicable. I knew going into it that I was going to need financial support and that was really the goal of everything here—the idea of providing financial stability for me and my children. But the more time I spent in the field, studying and doing research, I had a passion for logic and some topics that we covered; very philosophical views of mathematics. So now I have two forms of happiness, and the goal is to find the middle ground. The pursuit of happiness for me is finding the path that allows me to travel both roads at the same time, to have the security and passion. I’d love to be able to just follow my dreams, but I have responsibilities…so it’s the happiness in the long term, and the happiness in today. And they really come from two separate sources. I have my children, there’s a permanent happiness. And recently, I got a job here—and it has reminded me of the happiness of success. But I think the pursuit of happiness itself changes day to day. As you go, your life evolves and your viewpoint evolves, and your needs evolve. You know yourself better and you see yourself better. Sometimes, I think the pursuit of happiness is in the pursuit of happiness itself. It’s the journey, not really getting anywhere, but rather what we do in the process of getting to where it is we want to be. In the end, I think that’s where I’ve found that happiness.”