Happiness, the eternal quest, the never ending itch to feel something that overshadows our eternal struggles. And thus, in the search for this inconquerable resource, humans try to hold or possess the tangible, the ideal of happiness, something foolproof. John Ciardi attempts to answer this itch in his essay entitled “What is Happiness?” His ideas compare the odds of internal, stagnated, and reflective happiness against product happiness.
John Ciardi’s conveys the meaning of happiness by finding a balance between the polarized Eastern and Western views of what it entails. In essence, he searches for an over-arching truth about this insatiable feeling that is sans-cultural influence. He defines that happiness is not the pausing to reflect nor the striding to gain, instead it’s finding and pursuing to become. John Ciardi doesn’t try to alter the course of our pursuit, to stop us from buying the oh-so-necessary infomercial product that we want, instead he lets us know that happiness requires that we both search from within and look beyond to find something meaningful. Happiness, therefore, isn’t the sensation of gratification, instead it’s the search for what actually gratifies us.
The founding fathers don’t give us any “key” to happiness, no guaranteed american pie with a lifetime warranty, and the pursuit of happiness isn’t actually about joy at all. It’s about opportunity. It ensures that all citizens, of all races, should have the avenues to discover what makes them happy.
John Ciardi’s point, in my view, has very real-world validity. Happiness isn’t about receiving what makes us happy, but finding, and doing what makes us happy. I also agree that happiness isn’t static or complete. In one hour we can go from a class that engages us and makes us fulfilled to a class that makes us doze into a steady slumber. And yet, both both instances are imperative in determining what we value. Ciardi’s point that happiness isn’t complete, and never will be, parallels how the world isn’t molded to our needs. It’s our journey, our work in constant progress, to become who makes us happy. Looking in the mirror, we may still want a brush to comb out the kinks, but happiness is seeing that those kinks don’t matter much at all if we’re proud of who we are. This journey entails moments of glee; moments of effervescence where we feel like we’ve created an ideal scenario for ourselves to thrive. Likewise, the moments of deep disappointment or unfulfilment are part of the balance that Ciardi creates.
The happiness market, in all it’s confusion and misguidance, is a part of everyday existence. For me, I’m lost in it’s hallways at school. I enjoy doing most things, but does anything make me happy? For this, I must search for any hesitations and slight inclinations. Any moment of boredom, often dismissed as a shallow distraction, could be the roadsigns that guide us away from an unfit “happiness product.” We’ll miss a couple signs on the way, but like any journey, it isn’t about the destination, it’s about the ride.