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Script of Happiness on the DC Treybil Youtube Channel

In the Declaration of Independence, pursuit of happiness is counted as an unalienable right.

So exactly what is this happiness which it is our unalienable right to pursue?

And that is the topic I want to address in this video.

Allow me to begin answering the question “What is happiness?” by offering two broad definitions:

So happiness can be an attitude or the result of actions. Attitude and action are two key terms in the definition of individual freedom used herein.

That having been said, to continue answering the question “What is happiness?” I offer three paths or methods of achieving it. Happiness can be achieved by:

Concerning the first path (establishing, maintaining, or furthering external conditions favorable to happiness), may I call Maslowe's Hierarchy to your attention? Consider the following illustration:

The individual, each of us, is the body of the federal government (the human bodies thereof) primarily responsible for the filling of each of these tiers.

The bottom two tiers can be supported/enhanced by other bodies of the federal government in the judicious and proper regulation of commerce, which, for a government that governs least, consists mostly of staying out of the way.

The third tier is somewhat protected by the First Amendment for the Constitution for the United States of America by its mention of peaceable assembly. Many State constitutions include similar language.

The top two tiers can be met only by each individual, perhaps with coaching, support, instruction, or guidance from trusted personal associates. However, no body of the federal government, other than the human bodies, should be entrusted in any way with these tiers.

Concerning the second path (a journey of self-discovery involving protracted, intense personal work, study and struggle), allow me call the following definition, borrowed from an August 13, 1963 speech by President John F. Kennedy, to your attention:

Happiness is the exercise of vital powers along lines of excellence in a life affording scope.

I'll start by stating that I take vital powers as referring to the very life force of your body, your being. Who, other than you yourself, can exercise those? Nobody. No third party or parties. No body of the federal government other than you (one of the human bodies thereof) can exercise your vital powers.

Your vital powers include your physical, intellectual, and spiritual abilities/capacities/powers.

Which brings me to lines of excellence. Let's focus on excellence. Root word excel. Excel: to surpass. To surpass whom or what? To surpass today your own level of achievement yesterday. Which means to constantly improve yourself. If you get far enough along on this path, you can approach or perhaps even achieve your full potential. Achieving your full potential is what the top (self-actualization) tier of Maslowe's Hierarchy refers to.

The remaining key phrase in the citation from JFK's speech is in a life affording scope. I just want to address the word scope enough to say it is synonymous with liberty, or perhaps opportunity - then again, maybe both.

Opportunity can be a viable challenge to one's vital powers. I use the term viable to mean a non-lethal challenge. (If it doesn't kill ya' it makes ya' stronger!) At the same time, viable means an occasional challenge sufficient to require a stronger exercise of your vital powers than previously required. I think life is more interesting when the perception is that such a challenge might be around the next corner.

Liberty in this context refers to the ability to answer such challenges without interference from officials in various formal (non-human) bodies of the federal government.

Which brings me to the end of my discussion of the second path listed above.

The remaining path is a simple choice.

A person can simply choose to be happy with the way things are.

This should not be confused with complacency.

Life itself demonstrated this to me when a friend of mine was diagnosed with colon cancer. He decided to be happy.

He chose an attitude.

This choice had profound effects. Positive effects. Amazing things happened in his life after that. I was a witness to this. I saw it happen.

Suddenly, he became aware that he did not know if he had enough time to change his external circumstances. He was not assured of sufficient time to pursue the first path described above. The same was true for the second path described above.

Suddenly, he was confronted with a challenge that required him to call upon his spiritual abilities to a much greater extent than he had called upon them before. He found those abilities and expressed them.

He died about two years after his initial diagnosis. But that's not the point.

The point is that nobody has to be confronted with the likely prospect of early death to make this choice.

Consider my definition of individual freedom:

Freedom is an irrevocable degree of latitude in attitude and action.

Latitude is choice.

You have a choice regarding both your actions and your attitude. At this point I can say that happiness is an attitude.

Favorable external circumstances and viable challenges may make it easier to achieve that attitude, to feel happy, but the choice can be an act of will despite less than favorable external circumstances or challenges.

Such a choice, such an act of will, is also possible in favorable external circumstances and viable challenges.

And with that, I conclude my discussion of happiness.

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