Friday, November 12, 2010

Pursuing Happiness

If I were asked at any given moment if I was happy, I might contemplate the answer “no.” I mean, my house can always be cleaner; I could always sleep more; I would love more time to relax. You know what I mean? But, if I really think about it, really stop and contemplate the question, then the answer is absolutely, “yes!”

When I hear the Declaration of Independence describe our unalienable rights--Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—it puts this sentiment more into perspective. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” We are lucky to have the freedom to put those paths in harmony.

So I challenge you to think about what makes you truly happy and to make an effort to pursue those aims. Many of us take for granted our true wells of happiness. Sometimes I need to stop worrying about the small things, like the clean house, and embrace the bigger picture, like my amazing family.

For me, happiness comes from feeling like I am contributing to society, being intellectually stimulated and spending time with my close friends and family. Notice that none of these things include having more money or material goods, and a clean house is never mentioned.

I am lucky to have a position that allows me to fulfill all of these roles, which keeps me happy on a daily basis. Although I am no longer a researcher, I am able to pursue my goal of advancing biomedical research. As a science policy fellow, I feel that I am using my knowledge and skills to benefit society—I can understand the science and translate it in order to advocate for better health. I am able to continue learning and discussing biomedical issues, my intellectual passion. And, though I have limited social time, I savor every moment with my friends and family.

There are many opportunities to contribute to your happiness outside of work as well. You just have to determine what really matters and find a way to incorporate it. Every day, strive to keep in perspective the most important things in life.

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