The Pursuit of Happiness


Two weeks ago the world celebrated International Day of Happiness. It also celebrated International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The observation of these days has led me to ask many questions about how we can guarantee happiness for ourselves and for the children across the globe who we serve. Truth be told, a significant part of the happiness we experience depends on us. It is not achieved by simply turning our frown upside down. Our happiness is intrinsically tied to us interpreting our environment and experiences in positive and rewarding ways. It is all a matter of outlook. We are social beings, and our happiness often depends on how we are viewed and treated by others, especially those close to us and those who exert some amount of power over us. But most people will agree that the buck stops with us.

Some people spend decades trying to reach a point of comfort in hope that it will make them happy. Some achieve it, some do not. I know people who carry around a so-called ‘bucket list’ of the things and achievements that would make their lives more meaningful. A friend and I once visited a mineral spring in Eastern Jamaica, and I was surprised to see him take out a pencil and draw a line through a note in a little black book that he was carrying. Yes, apparently being at the spring was among one of his lifelong dreams. He was clearly taking control of his own happiness -or more so his pursuit of happiness. For others, it is the achievement of a brand new car, a home, vacation and other thing that triggers the release of more endorphins. But what about those who have to depend almost totally on others to make them happy? My thoughts are with the millions of children in the world, who live in constant misery and are often discriminated against for one reason or another.

Thousands of children served by Shashamane Sunrise also have a list of things they want to achieve; however, the common cry is that they just don’t have the means. Perhaps most prominent on their lists are their desire for food, clothes, shelter and a good education. Education is right up there with their basic needs because it is seen by many as a passport out of the abject poverty within which they have found themselves. A good education is often the only way they can improve their standard of living and create comfort and happiness for themselves, their families, communities and country. However, where education is concerned, many just want to be placed on a solid foundation by being equipped with the basic necessities such as pencils, pens, books and proper meals.  

For many of us in Shashamane Sunrise our happiness comes from making these children happy. We are driven by our desire to provide the tools necessary for these children to have what we have had- the opportunity to get a good education. Sometimes we want to give, and when we are unable to do so, it makes us feel sad and ineffective. But there is no need to feel this way because, like happiness, there is no limit on giving. If you cannot give today, there is always tomorrow. The key is to let nothing deter you from being altruistic. We should strive to help others so long as we are alive. Happiness and charity are things to be pursued.

People often talk about the ‘pursuit of happiness.’ It is a phrase that is captured in many documents, including the American Constitution, which was crafted to ensure that citizens of that country are given a chance at a comfortable and cheerful life. There are countries around the world where such pursuits are not celebrated, and it is therefore up to us to spread love and promote programmes which look to ensure that our brothers and sisters around the world get the support necessary to put them on the path to a happier life, especially from a very young age.

We can safely reiterate that happiness has no limit, and it is therefore something to be pursued. Even when you achieve it, you have to continue pursuing it, or it will fade. It is therefore up to all of us to continue pursuing our happiness by doing the things that make us happy- like spending time with the people who encourage us and lift our vibration. It doesn’t suit you to hang around people who are negative. There might eventually be a clash of personalities, which will more than likely lead to more sadness. It will also suit you to get over your fears and become more tolerant of persons who are discriminated against because of color, class, community, country or religious background. And while we pursue our own happiness, let’s not forget to help others achieve happiness as well. As you read this, there are children all over the world who are sad and have no one to help them. Let’s do our part in the creating a happier world.

One love, Edgar Lewis of Shash.


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