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Personal development: Our never-ending search for happiness December 26, 2017

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Concept of personal development.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It is interesting to note that the United States’ Declaration of Independence did not declare “happiness” to be an unalienable right, but rather “the pursuit” of happiness; so the government, if not encouraging of, at least should not be placing obstacles in the path of the individual trying to achieve happiness.

In the case of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the word happiness was likely to mean generally the right of the individual to work, without interference, at achieving their goals and reaching a state of relative fulfilment in their life.

Certainly these days there is a strong effort in the self-actualization movement to seek happiness, with an abundance of expert advice on achieving happiness, such as Richard Carlson’s helpful book, You Can Be Happy No Matter What.

Contributing to the elusiveness of the search for happiness is how each of us defines happiness; and this can be very personal – happiness is not an emotional commodity with a cookie-cutter definition.

Consider these synonyms for happiness: joyfulness, bliss, rapture, gladness, elation, ecstasy, contentment, satisfaction, well-being.

It is impossible to have a life totally free from any pain, sadness, or suffering so, for most of us, it is not always possible to be constantly elated or joyful.

The philosopher and social thinker Eric Hoffer, who had a tough life, has a rather bleak assessment of the possibility of happiness within the human condition, perhaps influenced by his own personal background:

“It is the testimony of the ages that there is little happiness – least of all when get what we want. Many outstanding persons who reviewed their lives in old age found that all their happy moments did not add up to a full day.” (1)

But perhaps Hoffer was defining happiness as being bliss or ecstasy, rather than satisfaction, or well-being.

Personally I think happiness can be as simple as doing things we really enjoy doing while also being free from emotional pain.

(1) Eric Hoffer, in his autobiographical book Truth Imagined

—Dennis Mellersh


1. Henry Lewis - March 4, 2018

Well-said Dennis! I recently wrote about cultural differences in the way people in different parts of the world perceive happiness, specifically making culturL comparisons with the West. Stop by and thanks for the discussion!

Dennis Mellersh - March 17, 2018

Thanks Henry. Best wishes for continued success with your writing…DM

2. aggie.coutinho - December 27, 2017

Hi Dennis,

Very good post. I agree.. Doing what we enjoy, being free from an emotional pain. Probably being free from a physical pain as well. I’m wondering why did you put just ’emotional’ here. And personal growth. These contribute to feeling that we live a meaningful life..

If you have a moment and would like to read something about personal growth and positive psychology please visit my blog. Most recent blog post here: https://mindset4progress.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/how-to-learn-230x-faster/

Aggie 🙂

Dennis Mellersh - December 27, 2017

Hi Aggie, and thanks for your insights.

I can, and have, put up with periods of physical pain, but that did not make me unhappy.
However, if someone I cared about was in a lot of pain, that would cause me emotional pain. So that is why I make a distinction between the two types of pain in terms of their effect on our happiness.

Also, remember that I am speaking personally, I am not speaking for anyone else.

I checked out your blog and found it to be rich in content. It is clear you put effort into it.Keep up the good work.


aggie.coutinho - December 29, 2017

Hi Dennis!

Thank you for the quick reply and checking my blog.

Yes, I understand what you mean re: the physical and emotional pain. And as you say – it also probably depends on a person. There are different types of physical pain too, different reasons and apparently we feel pain differently too. So there is lots of aspects involved but I like thoughts-provoking blogs and it’s interesting to stop and think a bit about that. The emotional pain seems often worse, that’s true.

Btw you may be interested in my new blog post about setting goals (nearly New Year so setting goals is something what many people do around this time I think!) 😉 https://mindset4progress.wordpress.com/2017/12/29/why-92-people-dont-achieve-their-personal-goals/

Best wishes

Dennis Mellersh - December 29, 2017

Aggie, Happy New Year a few days ahead of time.
I checked out your article on why people don’t achieve their personal goals.
I found it thorough, informative, and a good example for other bloggers who might want to write an educational/instructive article.
Keep writing!
— Dennis Mellersh

aggie.coutinho - December 30, 2017

Thanks a lot Dennis! I really appreciate this.

Dennis Mellersh - December 30, 2017

Hi Aggie
Best wishes for continued success with your work in 2018 and beyond.
Try to write every day, even if it’s just some ideas and notes for future articles.
The daily approach is a better skills-building strategy better than doing your writing in “bursts.”
Even 100 words a day equals 36,500 words in a year.
Take care.

aggie.coutinho - December 31, 2017

Thank you for your insight and advice. Yes, That’s write – 100 words a day can turn into a book during 1 year! I need to write in “bursts” sometimes due to my circumstances. There are days I have no Me Time at all. I’ll give a birth in March so I know there won’t be days I will just dream of sleeping a bit and wouldnt be able to thinks straight. On the other hand, when I think about 100 words – that’s really almost ‘nothing’, it’s so little that it could be written and saved somewhere on a mobile phone and yes.. practice makes perfect! 🙂

Thanks a lot 🙂 I wish you all the best in 2018 as well!


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