The Futile Pursuit of Happiness

The Futile Pursuit of Happiness
In the essay, “The Futile Pursuit of Happiness,” Jon Gertner defines happiness as something that is futile because “when it comes to predicting how you will feel in the future, you are most likely going to be wrong.” He says that humans have high hopes about how things will turn out and when they set their limits so high their expectations fall short. If they do not find happiness in one place, people will look for it in another place. Of course, we predict that our feelings from a relative’s death, a friend’s marriage and of having a child will be different. However, both good and bad expectations from our future have similar effect on our well-being.

The definition of happiness the author of the article gave us makes me remember and think about all the experiences I had and how I achieved happiness through them.

An example was when I set up a brunch for my whole class and spent more than two weeks organizing it. I got the matching cups, plates, cutlery and even catered gourmet food from a local restaurant. I had this rush in my body for two weeks and could not wait for this moment to come. At 3 p.m., the day before the brunch, CNN News announced that there would be a tropical storm the next day and that we could not leave our home. I was so frustrated and aggravated because I spent so much time planning this event and at the last second it was ruined because the next day no one came. This is the epitome of Gertner’s definition of Happiness. This showed I was hyped up for something and at the last minute it didn’t turn out as I expected. However, when the power ran out the next day I had a whole bunch of delicious food all to myself.

Gertner said: “It will almost certainly be less exciting than we anticipated; nor will it excite us for as long as predicted”. I did not have the opportunity to feel it, but even if I had not got what I expected, I felt pretty happy of what I got instead: plenty of delicious food. I had nothing to do but eat it all alone.

If I were to write about what makes a person happy it would be slightly different. I do not think that something always has to go wrong. I believe that a person can be happy even if there is a little problem. Happiness is not something you were born with, it is something that grows on you. You could be the least happy person one day and then be the happiest person the next day just because you decided to. This article gives us more profound ideas than those about happiness. It is about the way we think, the way we see our life. We can be miserable. And we can be totally satisfied with our life. This choice depends on us and no one can change this. No one can make you happy. It has to come from within you and only you.

Works cited:

Gertner, Jon. “The Futile Pursuit of Happiness”. The New York Times. Viewed on Sept. 20, 2010,

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