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What do you think makes us happy? A
question for everyone to determine at some point in their life. As defined in
Merriam-Webster (2017), happiness is a state of well-being and contentment; a
pleasurable or satisfying experience. However, happiness is
hard to achieve like water or smoke, it is there but it is impossible to hold
in our hands. It can be as simple as being content with doing what you love,
and living the life you want or by being who you want to be. Some individuals
even go as far as to follow steps on how to achieve happiness. Happiness is a sensation
that people desire to have, and sometimes desperately wishes for. Everyone has
a completely different view of happiness and how to attain it. Some Individuals
require money, material things, solitude and for others it is companionship or
helping someone, but the list can go on. People sometimes tend judge their
happiness based on what their career field is, what kind of car they drive, how
many square footages their home has and the area where their home is located. I
believe that individuals can be happy within unhappiness when we have an
absolute knowledge and understanding of what our purpose is, we stop at nothing
to attain and achieve what our heats desires; true happiness.

plays an important and necessary role in the lives of individuals all over the
world. Happiness has been firmly fixed in our consciousness since Thomas
Jefferson wrote these famous words in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold
these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are
endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (Jefferson). Since then, Americans
have been trying to seek the notion of pursuing happiness. The problem is however,
as Lindsay Van Thoen demonstrates in her article, the happiness paradox:
wanting to be happy may make you unhappy, studies find, is that the very same things
which make us happy initially may eventually lead to our unhappiness. By
examining Theon article more we learn that when trying to find happiness, we
sometimes end up not pursuing happiness in the right way.

up I always thought that being happy meant migrating to American, owning a big
house with nice cars, a boat maybe, a dog or two, making lots of money, having a
couple kids and marry the man of my dreams. Seems amazing, right? Being
younger, I based my happiness on how many nice things I would get for my
birthday, or how many time I get to eat ice-cream in a week. Like what Darren
Hardy recounts in the pursuit of happiness, our beliefs on what makes us happy is
majorly influenced by other people and other people’s things. Pathetic to think
that I gauged my happiness on the material things I received as a child. It
seems like these days, society and social media seem to define happiness as
having either a lot of money, or having a lot of extravagant things.
Individuals label happiness as a goal to achieve instead of a feeling. Instead trying
to attain “the pursuit of happiness”; we should entertain the idea of pursuing
fulfillment within one’s self to find the significance of what our purpose is,
stated by Hardy. This is where many people experience unhappiness within happiness.
The Declaration of Independence states that one of our unalienable rights’ is
to be happy in life. Which is true, yes, we all strive to be happy in our life
but do we really think about what happiness really means to us in a realistic
way? With Society now and social media, has a twisted definition of what it
means to be truly happy. In our endless struggle for more money, more love and
more security, we have forgotten the most fundamental fact: happiness is not
caused by belongings or societal positions, and can be experienced in our daily
lives. It seems we have made happiness a dreamland: which is high priced, complexed,
and unreachable. 

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the film, Modern Times 1936, showed the devastation that the Great Depression
made during this time; unemployment, poverty and hunger. Little Tramp (Charlie
Chaplin) employed at a state-of-the-art factory where the inescapable machinery
totally overwhelms him, and where various mishaps keep landing him in prison.
In between his numerous jail stints, he meets and befriends an orphan girl
(Paulette Goddard). Both together and apart, they try to be content with the
difficulties of modern life, with the Tramp working as a waiter and eventually
a performer. Their desire to change their life heightened the need to pursuit
their happiness even greater. Living during the depression and seeing
everyone’s face will manifest unhappiness but with the help and strength from a
friend will make the task of finding happiness easier according to Kennedy in A
Point of View: The pursuit of happiness.

the film, it’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey was a young man, living in a
small town, but with big dreams. He wanted to travel the world and get
away from his small town and accomplish these dreams he sets for himself.
However, he inherited the loan business from his father and he gave up
traveling the world and going to a University. As he ages, his youth, dreams
and opportunities passed him by. He married his beloved Mary Hatch Bailey and had four
children with her and his life was anything but easy. When a financial
discrepancy puts George in a difficult position, he believes he worth more dead
than alive, decides to commit suicide. An angel who has not earned his wings comes
to show him what life would have been like if he had never been born. Things
change immediately, Everyone around him was not the same anymore, without him,
George realized that everyone’s happiness somehow depends on him. In that
moment, he realized that he does not want to be gone from the world and that
whatever awaited him, he is strong enough and will overcome anything he will be
faced with. Hardy also stated that, one way to feel happy is think about what
you must be grateful for and sometimes making someone else happy, you can be
happy as well. He had the love from his wife and children, family and
especially all his neighbors. With them he could transform his unhappiness into

the film The Pursuit of Happyness, Chris Gardner a salesman from San Francisco,
California had great dreams for his family but his plans did not work out as he
intended. However, Christopher Gardner continued to strive and take a chance to
chase his happiness even if it took losing his wife, his home and everything he
hold dearly to him. The more difficult it got for Chris and his son, the more
he fought harder, Chris tried and tried until he could achieve everything he
hoped for amid misery. In one scene when Chris is playing basketball with his
son, he says he never made it as a basketball player and his son wouldn’t make
it either. And just immediately after, he tells the kid, “Don’t ever let
someone tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me.” People can’t do
something themselves, they wanna tell you that you can’t do it. You want
something? Go get it. That is what Chris does, he goes out every day,
until he was able to land a stop that took him to the top. Not only does this
scene showed people that they should focus on the strength of trying despite
their failures but it also depicts the love that parents have for their
children can directly make an impact. This scene especially shows that what
parents say and do can have a direct effect on the children.

major escape for everyone through and difficult times are songs, films and literary works.
During the depression singers like Jay Gorney, Ray Henderson and Harry Warren
kept hope alive through their lyrics, according to Songs of the Great
Depression. In the article, How Pharrell Williams captured the essence of
happiness by Gibsone, describe that listening to music is inviting, it reminds
them of a different era, that they can relate to which were happier times. Shirley temple was also beacon
of happiness to everyone during the Great Depression. She brought happiness to
people homes and lives, gave them some hope and brought them out of despair if
only for a bit. Through the film from unit 5, I have
learned that with the help or others, your spirits can lift tremendously. In
the pursuit of happyness, what gave Chris Gardner the strength to carry on and
to accomplish his dreams, was his son. He made sure everything he did, his son
would benefit, gain and learn from him.

Gender issues impacted the happiness
levels of men and women in both similar and different ways. According to the
Choice Reading CMT, both men and women suffered during the depression with
unemployment which led to unhappiness in their household. With the start of
World War 2, women’s role took a major turn for the better, but to men the
worse. Women were now forced to seek jobs to care for their family, while their
men went off to war. In the article Changing Gender Roles, by the 1940’s, women
filled the jobs of men and majorly became the breadwinners. Men believed that
women should return to their proper place but at the same time, they relied,
could not and did not help their wives. However, during the holocaust, both men
and women suffered severely. Gender issues were not a propriety, stated in
Choice Reading CMT, women were treated just as harshly, whether they were
pregnant or not.

Man’s ability to achieve
happiness during difficulties has not changed much over the years as shown in
the films which span over seventy years (Modern Times-1936, It’s a Wonderful
Life-1946, The Pursuit of Happyness-2006). The films show how everyone
approaches their happiness through their own experiences and trials. Everyone
is different and how we approach everything will be different. In all the
films, we see the characters go through extreme situations trying to be happy
but never giving up hope that their lives will change for the better.

Throughout my 28
years, I have learned that happiness is not such an unreachable dream. Though
it varies from one person to another, happiness is often only an arm’s length away.
From the characters, we will learn how physical, emotional, and spiritual
happiness can drastically affect our lives. Some individuals will experience
happiness in the pursuit of it. Some will find it in sacrificing themselves for
better goals. Others will find it in people’s companion, in lust, in drugs/alcohol
and material possessions. There is no technique to achieve happiness, and it is
only up to us to define what we want from life, and how we want to attain it.
The only certain thing is that it is never too late for anybody to achieve
their dreams, be who you are, buy all your hearts desires and ultimately, be truly

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