The Pursuit of . . .

Kevin Eikenberry

By: Kevin Eikenberry - Chief Potential Officer, The Kevin Eikenberry Group

Category: Leadership

When Thomas Jefferson wrote "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" he had something more in mind than "searching for" or "chasing" happiness. The pursuit of something is much more than having a goal. Learn how you can stop chasing and start living.

Continued Below...


Chances are, especially if you are from the United States, that when you read the title "the pursuit of" you thought of the phrase "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

These lovely words came from the pen of Thomas Jefferson and are a part of the U.S. Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.

As our use of language changes though, the original meaning of that phrase has been lost. When Jefferson wrote "the pursuit of happiness" he meant something similar to "the practice of happiness."

Think about the whole phrase this way - "life, liberty and the practice of happiness."

We have life, we have liberty (in the case of the Declaration, they were declaring it), and we can have happiness. Jefferson`s readers would have clearly understood that happiness wasn`t something to aspire to, but something to practice, or be.

As I think about this concept I recognize that we spend much of our time in pursuit, when what we really need to do is practice what we want.

For example, it wouldn`t be enough to be in pursuit of an Olympic Gold Medal, you know the only way to get there is to practice. This may seem very obvious for the kinds of skills already associated with practice (like an Olympic sport), but consider other things more relevant to your personal and professional life.

Don`t pursue good communication skills, practice them.
Don`t pursue creativity, practice the skills of creativity.
Don`t pursue learning, practice learning from everyday situations.

And . . .

Don`t pursue happiness, practice happiness.

When you focus on practice, you are doing the things you desire. You are both living in the present and, through the practice, progressing towards the things you are pursuing.

The problem with the pursuit is that you can easily lose track of the experience of living and you may not enjoy the prize when you get there! Rather than focusing solely on the pursuit, when you practice you are living what you are pursuing.

In other words, would you rather pursue happiness or be happy?

When considered in this light it seems obvious which choice makes more sense!

When you pursue, you:

Run toward
Reach for
Focus on the future situation

When you practice, you:

Focus on today

While goals (and their pursuit) are important, I encourage you to consider a more active approach than simply pursuing something. I encourage you to practice it. I urge you to do it today.

Making the choice to practice will help you achieve more of what you have previously pursued than any other single action.

Potential Pointer: Stop thinking about pursuing, and begin thinking about practicing. As you practice what you desire you will enjoy the present and likely achieve what you desire more effortlessly as well.

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