The Pursuit of Happiness?

The founding fathers evidently thought the opportunity to pursue happiness was on a par with life and liberty and ranked all three equally in the Declaration of Independence. But how that plays out in real life is problematic, never more so than in our own times. Already in the 19th century, there were other views about the efficacy of the pursuit of happiness:

Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and is never attained. Follow some other object, and very possibly we may find that we have caught happiness without dreaming of it.

          Nathaniel Hawthorne, Letter, 1851

Check out oldest granddaughter Sam’s purse to see what she’s caught — or what’s caught her — at the aptly named Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory in Deerfield.

I stand with Hawthorne, and with his neighbor Henry David Thoreau, who reputedly said:

Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder. 

Sam’s “Irish twin” younger sister Sarah has also caught — or been caught — but judging by her expression, Happiness is not necessarily a butterfly on the forehead!

(I have permission from both young women to post their photos so long as they don’t look hideous. Well hardly!)

This entry was posted in Etcetera, Happiness, Quotes and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to The Pursuit of Happiness?

  1. john tugano says:

    hahaha I love the the 2nd one It seems that it fits perfectly on the adage …”Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder”


  2. jakesprinter says:

    Really cute photo


  3. barb19 says:

    Those photographs are so special, seeing the butterflies sit on both sisters


    • Touch2Touch says:

      Yes, it was a very special day, Barb.
      When they were little we saw them and their brothers frequently, but as they grow up, the occasions become rarer — and maybe more special!


  4. Rebekah says:

    Beautiful thoughts … and girls too 🙂 Very true words by Thoreau…


  5. Pauline says:

    Not much is better than time spent with granddaughters… and butterflies! I doubt those two girls could look hideous!


  6. Louise says:

    It’s so fitting that the butterflies (happiness) found your grand kids.

    Great post!



  7. Stef says:

    A favorite quote of mine: “Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” ~Guillaume Apollinaire.


  8. I was just reading Thoreau’s quote on happiness this morning – and here is a second reminder. No chasing necessary – happiness arrives!


    • Touch2Touch says:

      As you say, if you’re proceeding in the right way (for you at that time), there you are!
      Corollary, or opposite and equal truth: if the pursuit is overzealous or ill-intended, no arrival at the state of happiness.


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