Skip the car!
Easy for Joan Tollifson to say. For me, happiness is too elusive a target to "just be." Note the Declaration doesn't say that our inalienable right is to be happy, just to pursue it.
Good thing too. Like the end of the rainbow (pot o' gold or not), happiness recedes as I chase it. I don't usually quote Jiddu Krishnamurti (his personal morality just being too out of whack with his teaching), but I find his observation, "To have a cause for joy is no longer joy" to be accurate. I'm happy until I notice I'm happy. And then?
And then one of several things happen:
* Damn, this ice cream tastes good. Too bad it's going to be over soon.
* We spent so much on getting here, shouldn't I be feeling happier than I am?
* This feels so good. Wish I'd done it before.
* What a sunset! Almost as good as yesterday's!
* and etc.
We are not built for chronic happiness. Why not? Because, to a first approximation, our brains evolved during the Pleistocene epoch. Here's the scenario, one million BC:
Ug wakes up, walks out of the cave filled with joy--what a day! Goes down to the clearing and sits, zoned out his skull with utter contentment. Life just couldn't be better. Bliss! And gets eaten by the passing sabertooth.
Bug, meanwhile, and the rest of the tribe, are worried about where they should hunt so the whole tribe (less Ug) can eat. And with the waterhole drying up, where's the nearest water source? Anxiety is the order of the day. But they do survive, and reproduce, and we're the result. We're not designed to be content--we've got Bug's anxiety-prone genes. We worry and we're unhappy because our genes tell us to be, because that's what allowed our stone-age ancestors to survive and reproduce.
All of which is a great relief. What, me worry? Of course! I'm supposed to!
"We spend at least half our lives in either physical or emotional discomfort, yet we persist in believing that happiness is our natural, normal condition and that when were not happy, we're not normal." --Geneen Roth