The Pursuit of Happiness ... is Wrong.

"The Pursuit of Happiness."

There is something irrevocably wrong about this quote that we are all so familiar with. The term - pursuit - implies that happiness is something that we will arrive at sooner or later. That it is waiting for us at the end of a journey. But we still find ourselves often unhappy despite trying our utmost best to "pursue" it, exactly because we are getting the fundamentals of this concept wrong right from the beginning. It is ingrained into our system that happiness awaits for us at the finishing line. But what if life is not a linear form of existence? Where, then, exactly is the start point or better still, the end point?

Because our minds are socially engineered into believing that life is a race, there will also be those who believes that happiness is right at the top rung of the social ladder. In the end, however, all you are surrounded by are simply your achievements, accolades, titles and wealth - things that we often mistake as the purest form of happiness. But what if happiness is not about a race? What if, instead, it is something that has always been around us, present around us, in the journey that we travel every single day?

I took to the streets of Singapore to ask how strangers defined happiness. Here is what they had to say:  

 "This is it .. being here in Singapore is happiness to us. Back in the UK, that's the reality, but here, this is the life for us. Our kids are all here now and we enjoy the simple things like the climate and the culture of the people here. It is strange how our happiness and reality are not two of the same thing but that is how it is for us." - Allyson & Chris

"This is it .. being here in Singapore is happiness to us. Back in the UK, that's the reality, but here, this is the life for us. Our kids are all here now and we enjoy the simple things like the climate and the culture of the people here. It is strange how our happiness and reality are not two of the same thing but that is how it is for us."
- Allyson & Chris

 "Happiness is about waking up with my loved ones every morning, that is happiness!" - Christopher (far right) answering on behalf of the Chor family.

"Happiness is about waking up with my loved ones every morning, that is happiness!"
- Christopher (far right) answering on behalf of the Chor family.

 "What is my happiness? My job is my happiness. I love meeting new people on the job, especially the tourists. They always asked me when is this train station going to be opened and I thought that was funny considering how the station has been closed for many decades now. So yeah, the people and the job makes me happy." - Nittya

"What is my happiness? My job is my happiness. I love meeting new people on the job, especially the tourists. They always asked me when is this train station going to be opened and I thought that was funny considering how the station has been closed for many decades now. So yeah, the people and the job makes me happy."
- Nittya

 "My happiness probably comes from maintaining good relationships with the people around me. And good food too!"  "And my happiness is him. Simple." - Deqiang & Junie.

"My happiness probably comes from maintaining good relationships with the people around me. And good food too!"

"And my happiness is him. Simple."
- Deqiang & Junie.

 "Happiness to me is doing the simple things with my family. Like playing a board game at home with the kids or bringing them out to a picnic like we did at the Botanical Gardens yesterday. It is the simple things that makes me happy." - Sabine

"Happiness to me is doing the simple things with my family. Like playing a board game at home with the kids or bringing them out to a picnic like we did at the Botanical Gardens yesterday. It is the simple things that makes me happy."
- Sabine

 "Happiness for us is to simply spend time with each other doing crazy stuff, which we do a lot! Like a few weeks back, we were playing the board game, Risk, and we got so competitive that we almost wanted to kill each other."  "But you guys can still laugh it off at the end of the game right?"  "Haha no, we didn't even talk till the end of the week! But hey, we are here together again and that is just how we are. [laughs]." - Shiva, Lalet, Amit & Jothi.

"Happiness for us is to simply spend time with each other doing crazy stuff, which we do a lot! Like a few weeks back, we were playing the board game, Risk, and we got so competitive that we almost wanted to kill each other."

"But you guys can still laugh it off at the end of the game right?"

"Haha no, we didn't even talk till the end of the week! But hey, we are here together again and that is just how we are. [laughs]."
- Shiva, Lalet, Amit & Jothi.

 "The one person that gives me the most happiness is my dad. I am who I am today largely because of what he taught me all these while. Like whatever people value me for, it is something that my dad had an influence over. So, my dad is my happiness."  "And as for myself, there is no one specifically that gives me the most happiness. There is just too many of them to even begin with!" - Shika & Clayton

"The one person that gives me the most happiness is my dad. I am who I am today largely because of what he taught me all these while. Like whatever people value me for, it is something that my dad had an influence over. So, my dad is my happiness."

"And as for myself, there is no one specifically that gives me the most happiness. There is just too many of them to even begin with!"
- Shika & Clayton

 "Happiness, to me .. is having nothing to look forward to! I just retired as an international sales manager recently and the life I had back then was extremely busy, constantly worrying about sales turnover for some of the big names. But now that I am retired, it feels really good. So the freedom is happiness to me." - Micadim

"Happiness, to me .. is having nothing to look forward to! I just retired as an international sales manager recently and the life I had back then was extremely busy, constantly worrying about sales turnover for some of the big names. But now that I am retired, it feels really good. So the freedom is happiness to me."
- Micadim

 "I think happiness for us is being able to find the direction in life and for us, that is to help people. I am an occupational therapist and he is a doctor-to-be, so we get to help a lot of people around us and that gives us the happiness; from both knowing our purpose in life and being able to help as well." - Charlotte & Udayan.

"I think happiness for us is being able to find the direction in life and for us, that is to help people. I am an occupational therapist and he is a doctor-to-be, so we get to help a lot of people around us and that gives us the happiness; from both knowing our purpose in life and being able to help as well."
- Charlotte & Udayan.

 "The happiest day for me was a few years ago when I traveled to UK and managed to catch the EPL match between Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers. I remember the feeling when Rooney scored the first goal and the entire stadium erupted. That feeling, that happiness, is something that I will remember for a lifetime." - Zhen Yang

"The happiest day for me was a few years ago when I traveled to UK and managed to catch the EPL match between Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers. I remember the feeling when Rooney scored the first goal and the entire stadium erupted. That feeling, that happiness, is something that I will remember for a lifetime."
- Zhen Yang

 "I have worked here for almost twenty years now and I can say that happiness is all about having enough. If got job to do, got food to eat, got clothes to wear and a place to sleep .. that is enough for me and I will be happy enough." - Kok Kiong

"I have worked here for almost twenty years now and I can say that happiness is all about having enough. If got job to do, got food to eat, got clothes to wear and a place to sleep .. that is enough for me and I will be happy enough."
- Kok Kiong

 "Happiness? Hmm. [Long pause] Everyday I pray to God for health and no sickness. So, health is happiness to me." - Mr Ng

"Happiness? Hmm. [Long pause] Everyday I pray to God for health and no sickness. So, health is happiness to me."
- Mr Ng

 "I am most happy when I am at home where I can just enjoy sleeping and eating [laughs]."  "And for myself, happiness is when I am traveling with my friends. Just partying with them and being carefree." - Joyce & Seow Wei

"I am most happy when I am at home where I can just enjoy sleeping and eating [laughs]."

"And for myself, happiness is when I am traveling with my friends. Just partying with them and being carefree."
- Joyce & Seow Wei

 "Happiness is about being able to pursue your passion, whatever that may be. It could be dancing, art or design. Whatever it is, if you have the freedom to do anything you love then you would probably have found your own happiness. Also, happiness is about making good connections with the people around you too. Relationships are very important in staying happy. And do not forget to be confident because being confident helps you stay happy as well!" - Kass, Jessica & Alvin

"Happiness is about being able to pursue your passion, whatever that may be. It could be dancing, art or design. Whatever it is, if you have the freedom to do anything you love then you would probably have found your own happiness. Also, happiness is about making good connections with the people around you too. Relationships are very important in staying happy. And do not forget to be confident because being confident helps you stay happy as well!"
- Kass, Jessica & Alvin

 "Happiness to us ... Is when we are dancing. When you are on the stage, nothing else matters. No stress, no worries, you don't have to think about work or school. You just lose yourself in the moment and in the music. That is just pure happiness for us." - Jamie & Wilson

"Happiness to us ... Is when we are dancing. When you are on the stage, nothing else matters. No stress, no worries, you don't have to think about work or school. You just lose yourself in the moment and in the music. That is just pure happiness for us."
- Jamie & Wilson

 "Happiness to me is about not giving up on your passion. I have always wanted to study photojournalism but I am still saving up for it right now. Hopefully I can go ahead to pursue it someday in the future because I am very interested in how photojournalism would allow me to connect with the people around me and their stories. So yeah, happiness is all about not giving up on your dreams." - Andrew

"Happiness to me is about not giving up on your passion. I have always wanted to study photojournalism but I am still saving up for it right now. Hopefully I can go ahead to pursue it someday in the future because I am very interested in how photojournalism would allow me to connect with the people around me and their stories. So yeah, happiness is all about not giving up on your dreams."
- Andrew

 "I can tell you what is not happiness to me instead ...  People frowning everywhere around me. I don't know, maybe it is just a Singaporean thing where people are not as smiley as they should be. Especially for me right now where I am serving my military conscription and a lot of the guys under me always complained about having to go back into camp. So I will always try to make them feel welcome and when I see the smile on their faces .. then that gives me the happiness in return." - Ifwat

"I can tell you what is not happiness to me instead ...  People frowning everywhere around me. I don't know, maybe it is just a Singaporean thing where people are not as smiley as they should be. Especially for me right now where I am serving my military conscription and a lot of the guys under me always complained about having to go back into camp. So I will always try to make them feel welcome and when I see the smile on their faces .. then that gives me the happiness in return."
- Ifwat

 "Today is a Public Holiday for everyone and I see many kids spending their time with their families. But I am also thinking about the other kids who do not have the opportunity to spend time with their families due to their unfortunate circumstances in life. Which is why I decided to volunteer collect donations for a charity for disabled kids today while everyone else is having an off day. It gives me satisfaction and happiness knowing that I can make a difference in someone's lives, especially those that are underprivileged." - Changxiao

"Today is a Public Holiday for everyone and I see many kids spending their time with their families. But I am also thinking about the other kids who do not have the opportunity to spend time with their families due to their unfortunate circumstances in life. Which is why I decided to volunteer collect donations for a charity for disabled kids today while everyone else is having an off day. It gives me satisfaction and happiness knowing that I can make a difference in someone's lives, especially those that are underprivileged."
- Changxiao

 "My family has a tradition whereby whenever any of our birthdays has arrived, we will cook extra food and bring them to any of the homes that we could reach out to. I think it is simple things like caring for one another that gives me the happiness in life." - Dheeraj

"My family has a tradition whereby whenever any of our birthdays has arrived, we will cook extra food and bring them to any of the homes that we could reach out to. I think it is simple things like caring for one another that gives me the happiness in life."
- Dheeraj

 

After talking to all of them, it forces me to think about my own happiness in life too.

If you had asked me, I would say that happiness is not about finishing the race called Life, it is all about living the Life.

 

Credits to: Md Hanis (Lighting Assistant)

 

Edited by Rachel Yeoh.