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University Of Maryland University College
ENGLISH 101 Term I, Intruduction To Writing
Essay # 2
By: Cristian Rodriguez
Thursday, Sept 29, 2005

Suc·cess: the gaining of wealth and fame.
Hap·pi·ness: a state of well-being and contentment

As many others have done before, I could take this opportunity to write something attempting to inspire, motivate, or move people in achieving a balance of success and happiness in their lives. Instead, however, I will illustrate or suggest why people should just forget about this idea. The reason for my suggestion is simple…this achievement is just NOT likely, if not impossible. Being successful is a statement usually magnified by the media with images of people in their business suits or celebrities in all their glamour2. If you asked a young person, "What do you want to achieve in life?" I bet they would respond with statements like, "I want a good job, and a nice car, and a nice big house, and a beautiful family, and a lot of money." On the other hand, this young person would less likely say "I just want to be happy"; the reason for this is that for many of us it is implied or expected that if you obtain all these things, happiness shall follow. Sure, some people may not admit to believing the former, but they certainly act and live like it. Most of us go through life striving to achieve or obtain all these secondary things, but if we get everything we ever wanted, we then realize these things are not enough. We are still unhappy and wanting more. What we must realize is that by wanting to achieve success (as commonly portrayed) and happiness (as commonly perceived) we want the wrong things.

Personally, I could not count all the occasions on which I spent innumerable hours on "projects" for monetary or material gain while, unintentionally, sacrificing time from family and renouncing time to reflect on what is meaningful to me. Something I find useful in putting one's life in perspective is to ask oneself, "If I died today, would people remember me as a person whose life impacted theirs in a positive way, by the way I lived my own? How many people had gotten to know the real me? Further, I find that the main problem in our search for a balance in success and happiness is not that we happen to be in the "wrong" time and place in our lives to achieve it--it is that this balance is unreal and unconceivable. Let me give you a few subjective yet provocative examples to ponder: Think about or imagine, if you will, Jesus Christ's life on earth. Given how according to the bible he--being the son of God--lost his temper in the temple (because of the moneylenders); one of his disciples betrayed him; he was persecuted, tortured, and crucified. While being crucified, Jesus even lost faith in God when he said "Father, why have you forsaken me?" Through all this, do you think Jesus' life was a happy one? On the other hand, do you think his life was meaningful? More examples, the most famous scientist of the 20th century, Albert Einstein, once said, "Well-being and happiness are such trivial goals in life that I can imagine them being entertained only by pigs." The American civil rights movement leader, Martin Luther King's last words were, "Free, free at last, free at last" Do you think these two extraordinary lives were filled with happiness? I think it is much easier to sense and measure the meaningfulness in people's lives rather than their happiness. Moreover, a Greek proverb says, "He who suffers much will know much". In essence, my point is that no one achieves anything great without passion, devotion, sacrifice and suffering. The search for happiness is trivial. We must live our reality, accept the things we cannot change and change those we can and want to change. In life, every fall is an opportunity to get back up, to, perhaps, lean on someone, to start de integro3, as well as to discover your innermost strengths.

Ironically, many professional and successful people are still unhappy. They may be less fulfilled or just plain miserable in their personal or intimate lives. This contrast is evidence of our failure to realize that happiness is not a choice; it is a revelation4, a feeling, a sensible aura5 - truly happy people do not try to be happy, they just are, and it shows transparently and naturally, like a child's innocence. Happy people are carefree and do not need to achieve or gain. They are humble and have no higher expectations or outlooks. Happy people live life as it is, with acceptance and grace. Some might call them ignorant or primitive, but we all should admire those that are genuinely happy, for they enjoy the simplest things in life. For us humans, as social beings in civilized societies, there must be a balance in health, spiritualism, socializing, and economics to achieve true success and happiness; to have this balance would be perfect. However, I believe in the very old saying that asserts, "Nothing is perfect". In the end, what are we looking for in our lives? Ordinarily, we see the same recurrences, the same cycles in our lives: always looking forward to the next thing that will fulfill our lives and make us happy. For instance, a teenager cannot wait to get a driver's license in order to drive anywhere he or she wants and share good times with friends and just be happier. Then, this person cannot wait to finish high school and go to college or start working and make money to buy whatever this person wants and be happier. Cannot wait to move out of the parents' house to become independent and do whatever this person wants to be happier, cannot wait to graduate from college and start practicing a profession and become somebody in society to be successful and more fulfilled and be happier. He cannot wait to get married, have kids, get a promotion, buy that car he always wanted, buy that nice house to feel more secured and live happily. He cannot wait for his kids to start school, then for his kids to move out of the house, for him to pay off his debts, and work less to have more leisure time. She could not wait for her kids to marry and have her grand kids, could not wait to retire and go on vacations around the world. People cannot wait for all to be better, to be perfect or be just right, waiting to feel successful, fulfilled, and happy. We, as individuals, must follow our passions and live our existence. The quest to achieve balance of success and happiness is foolish. It might sound tragic, but it is true--pain and suffering are the natural ways to greatness, and happiness is the ultimate success.

1Gobbledygook: n. Unclear, wordy jargon.
2Glamour: n. An air of compelling charm, romance, and excitement, especially when delusively alluring.
3De integro: [L] Anew: Afresh
4Revelation: n. A manifestation of divine will or truth.
5Aura: n. A distinctive but intangible quality that seems to surround a person or thing.

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