The essay written by Ciardi is about happiness. What exactly is it? As Ciardi pointed out the founding fathers said we each have unalienable right: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And that’s the key to what he is trying to say, our right isn’t just happiness, its the pursuit of it. It isn’t just handed to us on a silver platter, we have to work for it.
In modern society we are taught at a young age that we can buy happiness. That if we have enough things, maybe we can achieve it. But that isn’t how it really works. And yet, we still continue to believe its our duty to buy things. So we do, and we continue to see people with huge amounts of things, or nice cars, or a big house and think wistfully how happy they must be. And even those of us who pride themselves on not being materialistic still have those little thoughts in our heads. The ones that taunt us saying ‘if only I had that new car or had that new phone, I’d be a happier’ . Or when we think that some new object will make our lives easier, and therefore happy. But, in reality when have any of us been truly happy when we’re handed something? We make think we are, but that ‘happiness’ doesn’t last very long. The true happiness most of us spend our lives searching for isn’t easy. I know personally, when something is jut given to me for no reason, yes its nice, and makes me happy for a short period of time, but its not satisfying. What’s truly satisfying is when I work for something and earn it. Working for something, whether material or relationships, just makes the outcome better. It tends to stick with us for longer, and the feelings, like happiness, are more powerful. But, we also have to remember we cant always get what we want, no matter how hard we work. And if someone assumes all their happiness is going to come from getting things, they will never be happy. They will always be searching for something to work for, accomplish it, and then find something else. Happiness isn’t always about earning things, it is about the effort we put in to things.
The analogy Ciardi uses is probably the most relatable. He talks about playing games, and how that’s like happiness. If any of us go and pick out a game, and there is no rules, therefore no strategy then what’s the point? If you play and automatically you win, without any effort, its not very satisfying. What makes games fun and interesting is possibility of losing, of hoping for a positive outcome and working for it. Then if we win the game, we each have that little moment of pure joy, of knowing we worked our buts off and actually succeeded. That same principle applies to gaining happiness. Its the effort of trying to get there, that makes it all worthwhile. I completely agree with Ciardi about happiness, its not about actually getting there, but more of how we did.
The idea is not about being happy, but about becoming happy; the never-ending pursuit of happiness. Which may seem depressing to realize we may never become what our idea of happiness is, but in reality when you really sit down and think about it, all of our concepts of happiness are different. What’s not different is the effort in becoming happy and as Ciardi says, that’s where the media missed the mark. They try constantly to sell us happiness, the easy way. But what each of us truly want, though probably not consciously, is to work for it. That feeling of pride in ourselves, knowing we earned it. After reading this and truly thinking about it, I realize it kind of is ironic. That this idea all of mankind is searching for, we probably will never know. But at the same time, it makes perfect sense; I feel like almost no one is 100% happy, there is always something we’re looking for, its human nature. But those little victories, and knowing what you did to get there are pretty close to pure happiness. No one ever said happiness is easy, it takes effort, but in the end that’s true happiness and it is all worth it.
Ciardi’s Essay: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxcQgjnJhCFGbzJEN1E3NDFxcU0/edit