ON THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS
The Pursuit of Happyness released more than 10 years ago but has recently just stuck with me. Might be because of a lot of reasons- but here is the one worth writing about—Once in a while we come across movies which engage us long enough and leave us with some provoking ripples of thoughts and ideas, especially in the first few minutes after we are done watching them. We all want a story like theirs. We have often felt just like the characters are feeling in the movie, and it is so relieving to see how things work out for them. After all, it is a movie. It is supposed to make us feel that way. But when I talk about – the pursuit of happyness— (with a y and not an i) – it is a movie that touched me be beyond those few minutes and taught me some lessons I will be writing about here.
It is a true story – inspired by the life of a salesman in San Francisco who struggles to build a life for his son and himself—Chris Gardner, and there is so much to learn from this story.
- Riding the Bus – Find an inspiration.
“I remember that moment. They all looked so damn happy to me. Why couldn’t I look like that?”
We see his life breaking down, drowning in debts and pending dues. With his family just on the verge of separating, he is inspired by a new profession—he wanted to be a stockbroker. It was not easy at all, and faced with the possibility of losing everything and yet he decided to learn something new. He knew he would not get paid but he also knew he could earn his bread by selling his scanners- and we see that in the end, it did not really matter. He did not let anyone discourage him. He was good with people, and good with numbers – there was nothing more he needed to believe in. It was all about unearthing his genuine self.
- Being Stupid – Sometimes taking a step back, is actually taking a step forward.
Nothing was going as planned. He was desperate. He kept on failing. As an audience of the movie, I was forced to think about what I would do in a situation like this. Would I have the courage to start again and possibly in conditions contrary my present situation and maybe lead my life towards a painful course if only for the short run? Maybe, no. But this movie sends out the message that it is never too late to start again and by the end of it, it also shows how. He didn’t let his past determine his future and this is something really powerful, and it makes every dream worth it.
- Running – Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something.
“You gotta dream. You gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you, you can’t do it.”
This moving conversation between father and son sounds more like a message to himself than his son. He lost everything – His car, his wife, his home, and his business was as good as gone too. He found himself running – running to make it in life and running to grab that shot since he knew he only had one. He finds himself wondering if happiness is only a pursuit because we can actually never have it, no matter what. He accepts the trainee opportunity against all odds. He had moments where he was desperate, but he decided to devote himself to his dreams. Showing us that if there is something we really want to do – there is no excuse for not pursuing it.
- Hardships – Reward yourself in the race of life.
“Because when I was young and I’d get an A on a history test or something, I’d get this good feeling about all the things I could be. But I never became anything.”
Hardships are inevitable. Sometimes we just do not have the luxury of time and money and in such a situation all we can do is value every minute of it. Learning how to pause for a moment and being grateful for what we have, mostly because we have earned it and got this far. Future might have better or worse things in store, but what matters is how do we in the middle of darkness, despair, dread and desperation, believing that there is going to be light soon and stay hopeful.
- Happiness – The road to happiness is full of setbacks.
“And this little part at the end is happiness.”
Homelessness, hardship, hunger, hope, honesty and hard-work—Charles Gardner crossed so many hurdles before he found what he was looking for. His victory over life was overwhelming. He did not look for happiness in everything he did. Maybe if he had, he would have never got a story the way he has now. He might have lost everything but there was one thing he could not lose- his son, who helped him keep his hope. It’s like they say – “To see the light, you have got to believe there is a light.”
So the next time you have a mountain to climb- don’t ask lord to remove the mountain- but do ask him to give you enough strength to overcome it. And the lessons shall be endless.