The Pursuit of Happiness Is Your Responsibility

By Ricky Powell in Happiness on May 5th, 2007 / 8 Comments

You may think the pursuit of happiness, as our forefathers mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, is that of a selfish search. However, quite to the contrary, I believe it is one of the most selfless quests an individual can undertake.

Although you may not realize it, being happy, or at the very least acting happy, are the ultimate win-win behaviors you can assume. Why? Think about it. When you reflect on all of the people in your life, which folks tend to make you feel good? The miserable ones? Of course not, happy people tend to make us feel better. When you are at work, do you like being around others who do nothing but criticize, complain and belittle others? Most likely, you enjoy working side by side with people who have a positive outlook on life and are able to find the good in others and in most situations.

By the same token, guess what… most everyone else feels the same! So, ask yourself, “Am I a joy to be around?” “Do I present an aurora of happiness and well being for my kids, parents, spouse, friends, and co-workers?” If not, I strongly recommend you take a good, long, deep look within. If you haven’t heard it yet, “Life is 5% what happens to you and 95% how you react to it.”

On my website, one lady took my happiness survey and wrote some rather critical words about this topic. I only wish she would have left her contact information so that I could have written her back and started a dialogue about her comments. Although I was unable to do that, I am pleased to be able to respond in this article instead.

Allow me to paraphrase. First, she wrote that life is never this simplistic. She claimed that criminals are happy when they are committing their crimes. I have to disagree. While I am no expert on the criminal mind, my guess is that most of them are actually miserable. I dare say that the evil forces in the world, murderers, rapists, even terrorists, are actually not happy. This may be a generalization but I would bet in the majority of cases, it’s true. Overall, I would say that happy people do not rape, pillage and murder.

Next, she wrote that happiness may well be a choice for some people, but not for everyone. She continued, “Environment, genetics and a number of other things have to be factored in and it appears you, (meaning me), ignored them. Perhaps it is because you have never known unhappiness, stress, genes with glitches, etc. If everyone were always happy, we would still be living in caves. Unhappiness with something or someone is a great motivator for change.” She went on to talk about the state of the world and how we should all be unhappy with it.

I am actually so grateful she took the time to submit the survey because until I read it, quite frankly I was completely remiss in addressing these extremely important points that need to be tackled.

First, let me just say that I have had plenty of sadness and stress in my life. Haven’t we all? Yet, I believe there is a difference between feeling sad over particular events taking place, versus an overall attitude of unhappiness.

At age 4, I had an older brother who ran away from home and disappeared for the next 18 years, only to show up years later for just a few fleeting moments until he left again for good. Unfortunately for my family, he was a very unhappy person.

At age 23, I lost my very best friend to a sudden genetic heart defect. We had gone through High School and College together, and I actually attribute my entire post graduate career in Entertainment to him as he was responsible for helping me land my first job out of school where we worked together side by side. He was such a powerful, positive force in my life, and touched so many others’ lives, that to this day, 21 years later, not a day goes by when I don’t think about and miss him terribly. He was one of the happiest people I knew and was a great inspiration in my creating a website about happiness.

Five years ago, I lost my mother prematurely. She was just 73. We were so close my entire life and after my kids came along, she was absolutely overjoyed to spoil them as much and for as long as she could. I felt horrible about losing her, and even worse that my kids would never again be able to spend time with her. As young as they were when she passed, fortunately they have nothing but wonderful memories of her and thank goodness we captured many happy events on video so that her memory can live on for generations to come. My mom, despite a very difficult life, was also one of the happiest people I have ever known.

I share all of this for no other reason than to help my anonymous visitor understand that we all have bad things happen to us. The world is full of horrible people, places and things that go on each and every day. For one to choose happiness does not mean that they are ignoring or condoning all of these atrocities. Imagine what doctors and lawyers and morticians go through every day. If they let what they see each and every day affect their ability to be happy, none of them would stand a chance.

I believe also, that she may have misunderstood the difference between ‘unhappiness’ and ‘dissatisfied’. Human nature itself is insatiable. From the moment we are born, we are never satisfied. Radio talk show host, Dennis Prager recalled that his son’s third word was “more”. His order of speaking was mama, dada and more! I am sure that is something to which all of us can relate. It is this dissatisfaction that drives us to constantly improve. The caveman was not satisfied with the way things were, and thus invented the wheel. Then came the discovery of fire, and so on it goes. Did Bill Gates stop with Windows XP? No, here comes Vista. Today, the i-phone… tomorrow, the i-world! None of this has anything to do with being unhappy. That is an entirely different animal. We can be dissatisfied with the way things are and strive to make them better, but we can enjoy an inner peace and happiness while working on making the world a better place.

Genetics is a completely separate issue. There are people who suffer from chemical imbalances and other physiological anomalies, which can lead to depression, anxiety and other problems, all possible contributors to unhappiness, (some members of my family included… remember my brother?)

Thankfully, there are medications that can help people in these situations. Drugs are only part of the answer though. From what I understand, these medications are only meant to enable the patient to feel better.

It is up to each individual to go the extra step and decide that they can indeed feel happy once they have that capability of doing so through medication. This really is a topic for another discussion though. I am not a doctor. This is just my laymen’s take on the subject. My point is not to minimize any of this. Clearly, there is much more that can be written and in fact, will be written for the website in the days, months and years to come.

To summarize for now though, I emphatically believe that happiness is absolutely a choice. It is the very reason that I created It is truly your personal responsibility to be as happy as you possibly can. The world will be a much better place when the majority of its inhabitants are a just a little happier!

About the author:
Ricky Powell is the founder of, providing an abundance of ways to ignite the happiness within you and all around you.

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8 Responses to “The Pursuit of Happiness Is Your Responsibility”

  1. christina a mcauliffe Says:

    I absolutely 100% agree with you happiness is a state of mind. until 4yrs ago I would if asked said I am the happiest person alive. from childhood always smiling because I always knew a smile would open up any door. Then personal family disasters over the past 4yrs have changed me. I think the worst thing about this whole experience is I know I’ve changed, and the harder I try to get myself back into a positive mind-frame, the further out of my reach it becomes. Happiness for me comes from giving and I have always been happy to give whether it be of myself, or financial help. Although many times financially strapped myself, was always able to see beyond my needs to the needs of the individual. I’m 53yrs old(but my mind is still 25yr) and I’m beginning to realise, I have allowed fear to take control of my life and cloud my judgment. Now let me say the fear is not for myself its for my family, that I have to hold myself in tight control because if I make one wrong move we all will end up homeless. You must think well she’s 53yrs how young can her children be, actually the youngest is 19yrs, but my grandchildren are 2yrs and 22mth’s there’s the rub. four years ago I was working on upgrading myself to RN after all I already my AS degree it would be a snap, then my husband got sick and he hasn’t worked in 4yrs, got behind with taxes with school fees, credit cards you name it and it happened it was a spiral that wouldn’t stop. In fact it continues to roll on down, we rent, are behind with car-payments the list is endless. I know I am responsible for the chioces I have made but I also know I never learned how to look for or ask for help. In my worst moments I feel its to late for any kind of help. Academically I consider myself very educated, and I feel embarrassed about the situation I find myself in. Because for all my education apparently I don’t have the skills nor the knowledge to change course. It is not all dark of course, I have my grandchildren who fill my heart with joy, and regardless I still have the child from bangladesh I sponser every month, and I contribute to the ONE CAMPAIGN that is battling world hunger. But at this stage in my life I had always visulalized myself giving more, touching more lives. Even a couple of years ago I still saw myself as I have always done a winner not in an arrogant way, its was my karma. I try hard to see myself in that light but in my heart I don’t believe it anymore, and so I’m stuck in a kind of limbo not able to move on. The Happy bubbly confident and positive woman has disappeared, and I miss her dreadfully. As I write this piece, I can feel the negativity swallowing me up, however I don’t feel relief or release. I had hoped for even the smallest sense of change. I hope someone is able to offer me some positive feedback. YOURS IN PEACE Christina.

  2. Ricky Powell Says:

    Hi Christina,

    I am so glad that you took the time to write your comment. I am so sorry to hear about your current set of circumstances. I completely empathize with the pain you must be going through right now.

    As strange as this may sound, I can hear the old you in your writing. While you are currently trapped in this bad situation, rather than take the position of the angry victim, you write with great clarity and realize deep down that happiness is a choice, and still have the desire to get pack to that positive place where you are comfortable and are well familiar with.

    I am not a mental health professional, but I began my website, , to help people understand that happiness is a choice, and show visitors how important it is, each day, to be grateful for what we do have, as well as focus on the best possible ways to get back to the place we all know is right, which is happiness. You were absolutely right when you wrote that happiness comes from giving. It becomes a catch 22 when we don’t have the resources available to help financially. In fact, because of a few things that happened to me this past year, I was in a similar position, although not nearly as severe. I felt like my starting the website was a way for me to give back as well.

    I wish you the best with your situation. I don’t know if you have tried the Dream Manifesto software, but as I wrote over the weekend, I was amazed with how much it helped me in just the past week. I think it helped me realize how important it is to clarify exactly what it is that is important, both short and long term.

    Blessings for you and your family,
    Ricky Powell

  3. Lawrence Says:

    I agree that it is our responsibility to be as happy as we possibly can. And in my opinion, one of ways to stay happy is to show gratitude to people around us. We have so much to be thankful for.

    Abraham Lincoln once said “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”


  4. Ricky Powell Says:

    You are absolutely correct, Lawrence. Gratitude is the opposite of Victimhood, which is essential for experiencing happiness. One great tool I came across is to write down 3 things you are grateful for everyday. It shifts focus to what is already good in your life.
    Abraham Lincoln’s quote is one of my favorites!

  5. sid Says:

    I perfectly understand whatever is written . I am myself a very optimistic person but what to do if the others on whom you are emotionally dependent akways tend to bring you down and alway make you realise that you are nothng but a useless thing.
    Ones optimism is itself lost and one cannot emain happy dedespit the fact that one wants to. Pls guide.

  6. Ricky Powell Says:


    In my mind, there is no such thing as a “usless thing”, other than the forces of evil in the world who wish to see us all destroyed.

    I understand you may find yourself emotionally dependent on a particular person, but in general, I would have to say it is far healthier to be dependent on yourself. That’s not to say, we don’t all need someone to love and have others love us… but, if the others are bringing you down to the point of losing your optimism, it may be time to re-evaluate the relationship?

    I hope you find your answer.
    Best Wishes,
    Ricky Powell

  7. tanja Says:

    Ricky Powell,
    I think it is wonderful what you wrote! This can and will help many people from all over the world.
    ‘Happiness is something that you are & it comes from the way you think’. You are right it is a choice!
    Thank you for sharing these positive thoughts to the world ;)

    ~know thy self~

  8. Ricky Powell Says:

    Thanks so much, Tanja. Please spread the word! :)

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