|English: This is a high-resolution image of the United States Declaration of Independence (article (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Part IV: Free to Be Happy
With this essay, Jon Meacham discusses what Thomas Jefferson actually meant when he wrote about the pursuit of happiness:
Garry Wills’ classic 1978 book on the Declaration, Inventing America, puts it well: “When Jefferson spoke of pursuing happiness,” wrote Wills, “he had nothing vague or private in mind. He meant public happiness which is measurable; which is, indeed, the test and justification of any government.”
Happiness, then, is an ancient concept; it's not just the greater good, but the greatest good. Jefferson cribbed from Enlightenment thinkers when he turned the phrase we know from the Declaration of Independence. And the fact that he did so added to the American sense of exceptionalism that, like the pursuit of happiness, is also a part of our everyday lives (even, I suspect, if you, the reader, are not from the States. Sorry about that).
But the happiness we're supposed to be pursuing is, again, the greater good -- which means it's, in part, the public good.
So how do we pursue that kind of happiness? What have you been doing to those ends?