Jon Gertner's The Futile Pursuit of Happiness

Happines is unpredictable. It exists in no particular or absolute terms and equates differently from one individual to the next. It courses its way through acts of kindness, of recognition and quiet recognition, of a kiss, an embrace or the comfort of a familiar hand above one’s shoulder. Joy can take its form in the concrete, the material, the inanimate things paid for to the rest people in the banality of the everyday. In the seeming triviality and commonplace circumstances of comfort food, public transport and an inviting couch at the end of a long day.

In sundowns, dawns, rain, snow and the myriad occurences existing in nature and our belief in fate, or hope, or a higher being. Western society for the a lot of part, peddles a version of joy which exists in the crudeness of huge homes, fast vehicles, copious quantities of money, buddies, family, a successful profession, and being all one can be; merely put: perfection.

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Jon Gertner on the other hand, thinks that happiness and humanity’s limitless pursuit of it is useless, and refers to the concept of “affective forecasting” as the factor for such futility.

Gertner believes that people generally expect and expect how certain scenarios in their lives will turn out and unfold before they really ensue. And typically, instances which they prepare for of being remarkable and fantastic fall short of their expectations; while occurences which they predict will result to their undoing, turn out to be not as destructive as they pictured.

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In which case, it barely matters if an individual has the ability to obtain the ‘happiness’ he wished to reach because it wouldn’t taste or the feel the way he would have desired it to when he shows up there.

Not finding it in one location, people are likely to proceed trying to find it in another, and they will probably find it, but in the exact same brief lived instance which does not amount and level approximately their expectations. Then pursuit of joy then becomes continuous, an activity inherent to humanity and people’s presence, so much so that joy and the pursuit of it is not only an useless and helpless incident and endeavor, it exists for the better part of human lives as an illusion. However the pursuit of such an illusion isn’t a totally evil possibility.

Gertner pronounces that our pursuit of happiness is what drives us forward, what fuels and motivates us to get through the dragging space of banality and triviality in the everyday. A point by which we find ourselves moving closer to, and although we may never reach our intended versions of it, we are moving towards a better version of ourselves, however vaguely, in struggling baby steps. Ultimately, happiness is a state of mind. It translates differently from one individual to the next.

It is fickle, ephemeral and elusive to the point of being dismissed as mere illusion. But happiness does exist, perhaps not to a certain degree, standard and form people prescribe it of being, but it is nonetheless a reality which exists in the mind of every individual since the inception of thought, and such won’t be dismissed as easily by reason of folly or futility. Despite what the title may connote, the pursuit of happiness isn’t as futile, but in fact, a healthy and essential aspect of human existence.

It allows for aspirations, growth and movement, and paves roads clear of direction. As Gartner already aptly and metaphorically puts it, “maybe it’s important for there to be carrots and sticks in the world, even if they are illusions… they keep us moving towards carrots and away from sticks. ”


“The Futile Pursuit of Happiness. ” (7 September 2003). Gertner, Jon. Retrieved 13 December 2007 from http://query. nytimes. com/gst/fullpage. html

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Jon Gertner's The Futile Pursuit of Happiness. (2016, Dec 10). Retrieved from

Jon Gertner's The Futile Pursuit of Happiness

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