“The Pursuit of Happyness”

 

No, it isn’t a typo or a misspelling – it is the title of a book, and a film based on the book, The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner.  But yes, it also a concept, and one that is enshrined in the Constitution of The United States of America.

Pursuing, and having the Right to pursue happiness.

With an apology to my American readers, I have always found this a bit problematic, making the pursuit of something that defies definition a Right – because as we all know – what makes someone happy is a particularly unique and individual thing.

“One’s man’s feast is another’s man’s famine.”

An example, when it is not raining or cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey, I like to sit on my back door step, and watch the sun go down, I live in the country, and I am surrounded by fields and trees, this particular spot gives me a view of nothing but trees with the setting sun shimmering through the leaves. It is a great place to sit and think.  For me this is sheer contentment, peace and stillness – it is happiness.

For others, it would be incomprehensible, just sitting there, doing nothing, looking at trees! Boooooooooooring!  

From my perspective, I’m not doing nothing, I am doing something, thinking, being still, watching the sun go down on another day.  In fact, if I have spent the day “doing something” or a whole lot of “something’s” – sitting on that step and “doing nothing” is what I look forward to doing. In essence my pursuit of happiness leads to a doorstep.

The story of Chris Gardner is the story of a man, his son, and how he overcame what where significant challenges, troubles and a lot of pain to get to a place where he could be happy. On one level it is the story of pursuing happiness, but it is also the story of a man whose pursuit of happiness caused him pain, was difficult, challenged him and plunged him into the depths of despair. It is also the story of a father and his son.

For Chris, happiness was having a job, having a home for himself and his son, feeling safe, being safe, keeping his son safe. It is a remarkable story, a story of a man who set his goal, then worked to reach that goal. Will Smith who portrays Chris in the film, and with his own son Jaden playing the part of Chris’s son,  called Christopher (an adorable and engaging little boy – the type of child what we here in Ireland would say about – “I could just run away with that child”) does an incredible job of acting.

The iconic scene is when after working as an intern in Dean, Witter, Reynolds in San Francisco, for no salary for six months he is called into the boardroom and told, in an especially charming way that out of 20 potential candidates for just the one job on offer, he has got it.

He is told to “wear a shirt tomorrow” as rather than this being his last day, tomorrow will be his first day.

If you do watch the film, pay attention to how Will Smith portrays receiving the news, on the surface he says all the right things, he thanks them, he acts with incredible dignity, but in his eyes, on his face, one see’s the emotion, the gratitude, the joy and happiness and relief of a man who has struggled, who has persevered, who has suffered pain. Did I get a lump in my throat?  Of course I did.

Oddly, even though I knew that Chris Gardner reached his goal, watching his struggles, I found myself wishing, hoping and praying – please let him get the job – please let him get the job – daft, I know.

By the way, I do realise that the film presents this story in a particular way, that poetic licence is taken with some aspects of the actual events that transpired.  Having said that, the story is grounded IN actual events, in one man’s reality – as a story or as a film presentation of a story it is a remarkable and inspiring one.

Which brings us to this – theHappiness Survey.

To summarise, women in general are miserable, unhappy, discontented – which is odd when you consider that women in general (and yes I know I’m generalising) have very few “things” that they have to struggle to achieve, to get, to obtain – they are given preferential treatment in school, in applying to college and in gaining  employment.

In one scene of the film, Chris tries to get a place to sleep for himself and his son in a shelter, but is told that they only “take women” ironically he is told they will “take his son in” but not him. So, even when women, in general, find themselves in dire straits – and being homeless with a child is probably the direst of all dire straits – they (women) find refuge, are offered help and assistance – a place to sleep.

Still, women all over the western world are unhappy, and are apparently pissed off about it, because “being happy” has been embedded in the consciousness of women as a Right – they are entitled to be happy – not being happy is an infringement of their “Rights

Chris makes a point about this – this Right to be happy – but rather than taking it a Right to BE happy – he gets the nuance – it is the Right to PURSUE happiness – to be free to achieve happiness by your own efforts. What he defines as “happyness” what will allow him to reach a place of being happy – is centred around being able to provide for himself and his son – a roof over their heads, being safe, being together.

What he never does, is whine, is demand, is expect any of this to be handed to him on a plate – he expects to have to work for it, he knows that it will be down to his efforts, his determination to not give up, his struggle, and he does have to struggle.

The film does not sugar coat this remarkable journey, nor does it shrink from showing that Chris is human, he despairs, he rails against the situation he finds himself in, he loses his temper, with his son, but then almost immediately apologises to the child, and says something to the boy that resonates.

“don’t ever let anyone tell you what you can’t do, not even me!”

Contained in this message, this lesson to his son is another message, another lesson – that what you want to do requires that YOU do it – you work for it – YOU decide how to achieve it. Considering that every step of the way of Chris Snr’s journey, Christopher Jr is alongside, this boy, this child had seen, and was seeing, firsthand how his father struggled, how his father overcame and worked his way to where he wanted to go – it was not just words, it was a message, a lesson that they were living, that this little boy was learning alongside his father.

Almost all writings by women on how women can and should be happy take it from this position – what do women want? What do women need to be happy? What needs to change for women to be happy?

I have never seen a single piece of writing, nor have I ever heard a woman articulate this.  But am willing to be corrected on this – but bear in mind – I read – I read A LOT.

What do I need to DO, what steps to I need to take, how can I WORK towards, by my own efforts a state of happiness?

Happiness is deemed to be something that is bestowed upon one – as a Right – it is an entitlement – it is something that emanates from outside oneself – it is an external “thing” that is given to one. But most of all, it is something that you own, you should own, and it is something that should benefit ONLY you.

Back to the Doorstep.

When I sit on that doorstep, I am content, at peace – not all the time – it is a feeling of stillness, of being alone with my thoughts and of watching the sun go down. Of putting myself into context with the wider world – I am one lone human being in a world of human beings living on a planet – watching the sun go down reminds me that I am not the world, never mind the universe. What I do when I’m not sitting on that doorstep dictates whether or not the next time I sit there and watch the sun go down I will or won’t be in a state of happiness, or contentment or a bit stressed, tired, irritated, sad, angry – whatever.

Only what I do or don’t do will determine whether my “Pursuit of Happyness” ends in reaching that goal or not – so, for all those women bewailing not “being happy” what are you DOING to achieve that state of happiness you want, but more importantly what are YOU doing that has you stuck in that state of unhappiness?

To conclude, Chris Gardner achieved what can only be called the very heights of success, material success, it would be understandable if he “rested on his laurels” and enjoyed the easy and privileged life he had managed by his own efforts to obtain – so what happened next?

“As a single parent for 25 years, Gardner has demonstrated his concern for the well-being of children through his work with and on behalf of organizations such as the National Fatherhood Initiative, the National Education Association Foundation and the International Rescue Committee. Gardner is still very committed to Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco; where he and his son received assistance in the early 1980’s”

 

© Anja Eriud 2014

 

Note: I was a bit concerned about The Fatherhood Initiative programme that Chris Gardner was cited as a board member of, so I tried to access its webpage, to no avail. Wikipedia was the path I had to take, from here, I was led to here and finally to here.

Was it disappointing? Yes, it was, the emphasis appears to be on re-engaging “absent fathers” with their children, but does not address the core issues that lead to fathers being absent, or rather being forced to be absent from their children’s lives. Does it change my admiration for the remarkable achievement of Chris Gardner? Not at all, but it has confirmed that even though organisations like this one Fatherhood.org  might believe they are doing something positive and worthwhile for and on behalf of fathers, they have only half the story, they are operating on the basis of false information. It is incumbent upon all of us who consider ourselves to be Men’s Human Rights Activists to correct those errors, in knowledge, in attitude, in belief.

To that end, I will go through every resource listed on this site, and when done I will write to them and lay out those errors. I invite anyone who believes that this is an important and necessary task to do likewise.

Will it make a difference? Maybe, maybe not. But we must try, we must at least offer them and other such organisations an alternative perspective.

Anja.

 

 

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28 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. AdVader
    Feb 22, 2014 @ 14:53:50

    the flipside of this film is promoting single fatherhood, asif broken*incomplete households are families, the pursuit of happiness has to be seen in the context of truth&freedom, not to be free but to exercize freedom, and in that context children have the inalienable natural human right on normal familylife, children belong to grow up at home with their father and their mother, divorce is child abuse, not a child’s “choice”, not a father’s “choice”, the divorcing parent is unfit.

    Reply

    • Anja Eriud
      Feb 22, 2014 @ 15:33:36

      Hi AdVader

      I don’t see it as “promoting single fatherhood” while I agree that children thrive best in intact families, that fathers are essential to the wellbeing of their children, this is a story of one particular father, and the unique circumstances that he found himself in.

      It is worth saying that Christopher’s (Jnr) mother left – she originally took the child with her, but brought him back to San Francisco and left him with Chris Snr.

      Reply

      • AdVader
        Feb 22, 2014 @ 15:44:30

        Hi Anja, its not about your opinion or best child’s interest, its about normal families and not normalizing all kinds of other ‘households’. the divorcing parent is unfit and paradoxical has to be removed from child(ren)&family at once, to reunite asap after being deprogrammed&healed from femini$$m or any other mental/mind illness. developing human well being is made impossible by framing people into social-societal dictates. reasonable shitizens adapt humans know better.

      • Anja Eriud
        Feb 22, 2014 @ 16:28:42

        AdVader

        I have to say I find your perspective problematic, and a tad disturbing, on several levels. First, families DO come in all shapes and sizes, and what works for one family, may not work for another.

        I sense when you say “normal families” you are alluding to a “traditional” model of stay at home mother, working father?

        Which in and of itself is fine, if the traditions of your particular culture or society reflect that, and if that is what works for a particular family.

        In families with small children, the primary concern, but not the only concern should be the welfare and well being of those children, but children thrive best when their parents thrive, within that family structure.

        While I will concede that the majority of divorces are initiated BY women, and for the most spurious of reasons, it is rather a step too far to characterise ALL people whether male or female:

        “as the divorcing parent is unfit and paradoxical has to be removed from child(ren)&family at once, to reunite asap after being deprogrammed&healed from femini$$m or any other mental/mind illness”

        Marriages break down, or rather some marriages simply cease to function as viable marriages – rare though it may be – some people actually do manage to act like mature adults, to acknowledge that their marriage is no longer working and to work together to parent their children and remain if not exactly friends at least cordial. To repeat – yes I know that this is rare.

        But, it is, in my opinion a model to aim for, because the reality is, marriages will and do fail to function as marriages.
        The most concerning thing in your comment is your use of the word “deprogrammed” on one level yes feminism is a form of “programming” and a negative form at that, but, on another level, rightly or wrongly people are entitled to believe whatever they chose to believe – with the caveat – that others are still entitled to question the validity of those beliefs.

        “Deprogrammed” smacks of, to be honest, something worse than feminism – and that’s saying something, it is taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

        Anja

      • AdVader
        Feb 22, 2014 @ 17:01:50

        Anja, i find your structures problematic and disturbing as its not about parents but about children, households with children may come in all kinds of shapes and sizes but a normal family is that one with children raised by their father and mother, a normal family is not a traditional family but a natural family, and also fathers may do the home-task, normalizing all kinds of abnormalities is violating children’s inalienable natural rights, primary concern in survival-mode maybe welfare but that is never a pass to break up families, and in a normal healthy mode fatherhood&motherhood is about the proces of developing human well being, unbreakable connected with their children, btw exceptions make the rule, your sophisms are not valid, why not recognizing&acknowledging the devastating sickening&maddening mindcontrol program provided by the state called femini$$m is underlying&overall to blame?

      • Anja Eriud
        Feb 22, 2014 @ 17:17:54

        AdVader

        Please define these terms.

        “Normal” – “Normalising all kinds of abnormalities”

        As you are a new commenter, I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt – once – with regard to my stance on feminism.

        A quick read of any article, click on one or two randomly, will illustrate quite clearly and with no doubt WHERE I stand with regard to feminism.

        I will also remind you, that for better or worse this is “my house” you are a guest, and while I am constrained by both the rules of hospitality towards a guest, and my own personal belief in the sanctity of the Right to Freedom of Speech, thought and Conscience – do NOT test either my patience or tolerance for arseholery – to be blunt, you are close to that line.

        Regards

        Anja

      • AdVader
        Feb 22, 2014 @ 17:22:35

        i did define normal implicidly, i read your articles for several weeks now, it would not be good if you didn’t respect freedom of speech, in the context of truth&freedom tolerance is also a good thing, pseudological lies however are never to be accfepted-tolerated, ‘feel’ free to block me though 😉

      • Anja Eriud
        Feb 22, 2014 @ 17:41:06

        AdVader

        While I will take you at your word, that English is not your first language, I will tell you this.

        I have very little patience with either disingenuousness, dissembling or euphemistic language, and I am an expert in recognising ALL of these devices. You may choose to accept or reject that.

        Having said that, before I decide to ban or block you, and I neither require or need your permission to do so, but I will explain, in detail why I have, in the event that I chose to do so, please answer this.

        Are you calling me a liar?

        Regards

        Anja

        By the way, I deleted your duplicate comment, it is not my policy to edit peoples comments, they stand or fall on their merits.

      • AdVader
        Feb 22, 2014 @ 19:42:52

        whatever anja,
        i’m just saying it as it is, accept it, or not. still divorce remains child abuse, femini$$m is tha beast and “choice” in the sake of love-tolerance-responsibility provided by the state a program to ‘feel’ independant&secure, i permit you to ‘feel’ free and block me 😉
        so, after having your ‘feelings’ structured, are you ready to get back to the point?

      • AdVader
        Feb 22, 2014 @ 19:47:28

        btw you deleted the worong duplicate comment about my 2nd language as it now still is a reaction on phill’s comment, phill adviced me to follow your blog.

      • AdVader
        Feb 22, 2014 @ 20:54:30

        considiring your replies, i would appreciate your apologies, anja..

      • AdVader
        Feb 22, 2014 @ 20:57:47

        i won’t react on your last comment as you are in control now

      • AdVader
        Feb 22, 2014 @ 21:01:51

        i only wanted to debate ‘the pursuit of happiness’, however, as many males, ‘anja eruid’ is a fraud..

      • Anja Eriud
        Feb 22, 2014 @ 21:34:25

        Advader

        “i only wanted to debate ‘the pursuit of happiness’, however, as many males, ‘anja eruid’ is a fraud..”

        Perhaps some music might soothe you, might even help you relax and chill out a bit?

        The incomparable Gary Moore – Parisienne Walkways live

        By the way, if you think or believe I am male then I’m afraid you are incorrect – female – as for being “a fraud” sigh.

        Enjoy

        Anja 🙂

      • AdVader
        Feb 22, 2014 @ 21:37:22

        anja eruid, plz get real

      • AdVader
        Feb 22, 2014 @ 22:29:14

        hi mike, i’m not asserting this blog anyways, plz don’t fool urself, just keepto the point, plz, in sterad of distracting while knowing divorce IS chilad abuse and the divorcing parent is UNFIT, okay?aq

      • AdVader
        Feb 22, 2014 @ 19:51:42

        to prevent wrong ‘feelings’, though phill adviced me to follow your blog, i’m independant and no one has to ‘feel’ paranoïde.

      • Anja Eriud
        Feb 22, 2014 @ 20:03:34

        Advader

        You are ascribing an emotional response to me that simply isnt there, hard though this might be for you either believe or accept, I rarely respond “emotionally” in the sense that I believe you mean.

        Nor, have I taken your comments personally, nor are my “feelings” hurt or engaged in any way. As for being paranoid – hardly. I am not going to ban or block you, for the simple reason that while I find your perspective disturbing and lacking in clarity, logic or reason, it is your perspective, and you are of course entitled to it.

        Having said that, perhaps I can be of some service to you in clarifying and amending your rather illogical “arguments”

        Regards

        Anja

      • AdVader
        Feb 22, 2014 @ 21:40:31

        i expected you not blocking me, because of freedom of speech, i expect you to react to the point and stop distracting emotional structures, as i take U serious however U are not there yet

      • AdVader
        Feb 22, 2014 @ 21:46:26

        stop playing ur female games about emotional structures while being in distress, i only want to discuss issues in a factual way, structured by truth&freedom, whatever your ‘feelings&thoughts’.

  2. Phill Ferreira
    Feb 22, 2014 @ 16:13:14

    Reblogged this on The Story of my Twin Boys and commented:
    A good one by Anja again..

    Reply

  3. AdVader
    Feb 22, 2014 @ 17:24:41

    2nd language bad, must be implicitly

    Reply

  4. AdVader
    Feb 22, 2014 @ 21:49:49

    so, what ‘thoughts’ of mine are illogical? and why? realize i say it as it is and your thoughts are irrational

    Reply

  5. AdVader
    Feb 22, 2014 @ 21:51:04

    i’m right and don’t need your or anyone’s approval, because i am and you’re, not

    Reply

  6. Anja Eriud
    Feb 22, 2014 @ 23:23:13

    AdVader

    You’ve worn out your welcome, you are now blocked/banned, for the following reasons.

    1. You’re an idiot.
    2. Your comments have been bizzare, not to say pointless.
    3. You have contributed nothing of any value or worth to the subject of this article.
    4. The last person I heard use the phrase “because I am and you’re not” was five years old.

    Goodbye, its been…………………………………………emotional………..for you.

    🙂

    Anja

    Reply

  7. John mws
    Feb 23, 2014 @ 00:06:35

    Advader you show a strong sense that you believe two things as fact. Divorce is wrong and therefore all divorce is child abuse . You follow this with the divorcing parent is unfit and you make it clear that the unfit parent in your argument is most likely a woman because feminism is the driving force in this.

    I think it is your implied statement that all divorce is wrong is the difference between you and Anja and many others. The affects of divorce under the current feminist laws and policies is unacceptable, and you will not see any disagreement here. Also divorce for frivolous reasons should be tightened, it would stop some people marrying for the wrong reasons it the first place.

    First as Anja says divorce will happen, so the state has to be involved in making sure that it is as harmless as possible for children. What happens after a divorce is what decides if any child abuse, due to the divorce, occurs. If you have life experiences that make you believe your position is the only one than I have sympathy but do not agree divorce itself is child abuse. The law being used to separate caring loving parents from a child is abuse.

    Yes feminism is having a disproportional effect on the results of divorce. I think you will find Anja supports both parents continuing to be caring and equally involved in any children’s lives, provided neither is a truely dangerous person. I also think if you read her blog that you will find she is definitely not in favour of the way feminism has influenced the family courts and would support changes to make fathers have equal rights with the mothers.

    Fathers have been shown to be vital to children’s mental health and life education. Also a caring mother is vital role model and educator. Divorce does not have to mean both parents cannot carry this on. Which is why Anja and other MHRAs want to stand up to the feminism laws and ideology and make sure divorce and child parenting is repaired. You of course can argue against divorce itself but I am afraid that is the least likely outcome that will fix the parenting that children deserve. We all agree modern feminism is not fit for purpose and must go, you have more in common than not, but others can understand your desire to achieve the same goal of children having a caring mother and father.

    Reply

    • Anja Eriud
      Feb 23, 2014 @ 14:00:30

      Thank you John for your thoughtful and intelligent comment – worthy of a post in and of itself.

      Anja

      Reply

  8. Anja Eriud
    Feb 23, 2014 @ 15:23:42

    While I have no intention of unblocking AdVader, (he has other avenues where he can articulate his perspective, which I have no doubt he will) he has “contributed” two more comments, one of which is directed at you John, the other at me.

    In fairness, to John, this is the text of his comment to you John.

    Obviously on the understanding that I have withdrawn AdVader’s “Right to Reply”

    “Submitted on 2014/02/23 at 2:08 pm | In reply to John mws.

    john, you’re wrong, i never said divorce is always wrong, and divorce is always harming children in their being for life, your comment is debunked.”

    I believe we can close this particular avenue of debate now? Sigh.

    Anja

    Reply

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