The Pursuit of Happiness
The Joy of the Pursuit!
Karen and Jay share thoughts on how the ‘pursuit’ itself can be the real source of joy and happiness, especially if for a worthy outcome.
The pursuit of happiness can be elusive. Too often, we tend to focus on the ‘happiness’ rather than the ‘pursuit.’ Ironically, as it turns out, it is actually the pursuit that makes all the difference. Especially, if we are pursuing the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. Happiness is the byproduct. As we each set our individual goals and begin the effort, we ignite our spirit, our quest for growth and inevitably happiness follows while we are in this positive flow.
In only the second sentence of the second paragraph of our own Declaration of Independence, the framers of our independence, and eventually our Constitution, boldly declared a set of unalienable rights which to this day are the cornerstones of our democracy. One of those rights, the pursuit of happiness, has always been an incredible source of inspiration for generations. The notion that this right is endowed to us by our creator was and still is nothing short of exceptional.
Yet, it has always carried a bit of ambiguity with it. What does the pursuit of happiness, as a right, truly mean? Does it mean we are guaranteed happiness? Does it mean we are guaranteed to simply pursue happiness? If so, how then do we define happiness? Clearly, it’s a debate that still goes on today.
Historian Arthur Schlesinger once pointed out that when the Declaration itself was drafted, the understanding of ‘the pursuit of happiness’ was not in reference to chasing happiness, but instead practicing happiness. As the English language evolved over the last 200+ years, the word pursuit began to mean “seek out” or “chase” rather than practice as it did then. As it would happen, the framers intended this right to be understood in a way that meant each of us as individuals who are also guaranteed life and liberty, can define happiness as we see it and in turn, practice it accordingly. Simply put, the pursuit of happiness isn’t necessarily a lifelong quest like we might normally understand it, but the right to choose and practice our happiness here and now. Everyone has the right to actually be happy, not just try to be happy.
A while back, I wrote about a philosophy Nick Saban, the head coach of Alabama football, preaches to his players. “Trust the process,” he always says. Much of what goes into the pursuit of happiness relates to this very simple, yet powerful idea. Each of us have experienced highs and lows throughout our life, yet each moment is part of a process that teaches us valuable lessons. We can choose to be upset, or we can choose to take it in stride and remain happy, because the joy is in the process. The important thing to remember is that our happiness is our choice, and our right, and no one else's, just like our founding fathers intended it to be.
Christmas Lights and More!
Traditionally, it is thought that the next milestone following Thanksgiving is Black Friday. However, for many people, especially here in New Hampshire, the next and most important event following the turkey dinner is the unofficial start to Christmas, the holiday, as we flip the switch and get ready to put up our Christmas decorations. I can say that this truly is my favorite time of the holiday season. So, let’s talk about the traditions and all the great things surrounding this time, starting with the Christmas tree.
The Christmas tree did not become a common American household tradition until the early 20th century. In fact, most Americans prior to that time thought a decorative tree to be odd and a waste of good firewood during the cold months. Eventually things changed to what we have today, and the trend continues to grow. Right here in New Hampshire, to meet the demand of fresh cut trees every year, there are over 50 tree farms. My personal favorite is Miracle Acres Farm in Milford New Hampshire which is owned and operated by my friend Executive Councilor David Wheeler and family. Terrific selection of trees and delivered with a warm personal touch.
And, how about our tree lighting ceremonies. One of the most popular in all the world is the one located at Rockefeller Center. This tradition dates back to the Great Depression and in fact, the tallest tree ever placed at this location was a spruce that stood over 100 feet tall. Closer to home, this past Friday, folks in the Concord area gathered together at the State House complex for the 36th annual tree lighting ceremony. Events like these bring the community together to share the joy of Christmas and spread holiday cheer. Meanwhile, our communities use these occasions as opportunities to help the less fortunate - gathering toys for underprivileged kids or stuffing a car full of canned goods to help the needy. This selfless and thoughtful giving is what Christmas is all about.
One of my favorites, outdoor Christmas displays! I remember when I used to get the kids in the car and drive around Bedford and Manchester and see all the amazing light displays. Silently, commending all those hardworking homeowners who spent countless hours putting the displays together so families like mine could enjoy the amazing lights!
This year I invite you to pay a visit to some amazing light and holiday displays across the Granite State. Right around the corner from Karen and me in Portsmouth is the display at Strawberry Banke. The tradition of their display and ‘Holiday Stroll’ dates back to 1979. People can ice skate, listen to Christmas carolers, and enjoy some Christmas shopping lit by candlelight!
In Loudon, the New Hampshire Motor Speedway will be celebrating its 11th year of their Gift of Lights. Families can pack in the car, support a good cause, and see 3.5 million lights over a 2.5-mile stretch. For the race fans at heart, you can take your car into the infield for even more displays and then end your evening roasting marshmallows under the grandstands.
Now of course I know am missing a few, or many few hundred, great displays to highlight. So, invite you to let us know about your favorite Christmas displays and events and share your ideas with our fellow Sunshine Report readers. Please respond by email and we will post on my Facebook page.
Let the displays of Christmas begin. Merry Christmas 2021!
Rochester – Proud History - Bright Future
Rochester, NH sits just north of the Seacoast on the Maine border, and it is a city with a wonderful history, some recent struggles but is now set for a big comeback.
The city is home to just over 32,000 residents and includes the villages of East Rochester, Gonic, and Rochester and as well is home to Skyhaven Airport.
Originally called Norway Plains, due to all the Norway pines that inhabited the area, it was not settled until 1729 and like many towns in New Hampshire, it relied heavily on logging and farming when starting out. The three rivers that run through the town make for excellent farming and it did not take long for the town to become established (and change its name!). The old town centered around the Town Common, called Haven Hill (now Rochester Hill) has proudly produced three New Hampshire governors.
As Rochester began to transition away from logging and farming and into manufacturing, it became one of the largest textile manufacturers in the entire region and was well known for its cloth, which even won an award at the New York World Fairs. The largest production of which came during the Civil War as Rochester was responsible for producing many of the blankets used by the Union. The town would be rewarded with 4 Civil War cannons that it placed in the community’s veterans’ park, conveniently located on Rochester Hill. These cannons are not there today though, as they were melted down for the war effort during World War II. Don’t worry though, they were replaced with new cannons from the WW II effort. Let’s hope we do not need to melt those down too!
The same rivers that made for excellent farming also made for excellent manufacturing with waterpower and as time progressed the cloth manufacturers transitioned to shoes. Not many people know this, but it is because of communities like Rochester that New Hampshire actually used to be one of the biggest shoe manufactures in the country! As manufacturing began to decline, Rochester went through a transition period but marvels still occurred in the city as it acquired a Carnegie Library and a one-of-a-kind Opera House famous for its movable floors that can double as a meeting hall for the town. Both of which you can visit today.
Very exciting news - we have just recently launched the Sunshine Initiative in Rochester, and I get the feeling that we will be seeing more greatness out of this mighty river city soon! It has a terrific downtown area just waiting to blossom as well as true community spirit that is destined to succeed!
Positive Profile of the Week: Jeanine Notter
“It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
What a powerful quote and it makes me think of all the people I always greet with a smile and those who greet me the same way. Our ‘Profile’ this week truly embodies this spirit. I am delighted to highlight a positive and highly effective State Representative my friend, Jeanine Notter.
Jeanine was first elected to the State Legislature in 2010. And if anyone is well-suited to lead a 400-member body, it is Jeanine. When a member is selected to be in leadership, he or she needs to be strong and be able to move mountains with a positive attitude. This is no doubt why Jeanine has been so very successful in serving as Assistant Majority Leader and Majority Floor Whip in the House.
Jeanine has served as Chairman of the Federation of Republican Women. In her duties, Jeanine mentored, raised funds for candidates, and ensured women had a platform to play a key role in the future of the Party.
But public service isn’t enough for Jeanine. She is the mother of six and has been a fitness instructor. Community action and awareness are also important. Jeanine is the host of a public access TV show in the town of Merrimack. She brings guests on from all walks of life to inform her constituents about the issues of the day or a cause you can get involved in. I have been honored to be a guest on her program twice. She had me on her show to talk about the New Hampshire efforts of Children of Fallen Patriots and then to discuss the real threat posed by Communist China to our national security and in essence, to our freedom.
I truly admire all the great things Jeanine has done for Merrimack and the entire State of New Hampshire. She has quite the plateful. But, somehow, she manages it and always does it with a bright smile. In addition, as a runner, I truly love her commitment to physical fitness. She takes part in runs that support charities, raise awareness, and build community spirit. Some of the events she has taken part in include the Maine Half Marathon, the Manchester Marathon, and a long list of 5k’s around New England.
Jeanine knows where the finish line is and what it takes to get there. She’s determined, committed, and always finds the positive way to move forward. Thank you, Jeanine, for all that you do!
Positive Quotes of the Week: Pursuit of Happiness
“Pursue happiness and you'll be unhappy, pursue purpose and you'll be happy.” ― Abhijit Naskar, Aşkanjali: The Sufi Sermon
“The crowning fortune of a man is to be born to some pursuit which finds him employment and happiness, whether it be to make baskets, or broadswords, or canals, or statues, or songs.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“I'm not in pursuit of happiness, I'm happiness in pursuit; ready to happen everywhere I go.” ― Bernard Kelvin Clive
“Yesterday I was seeking happiness for myself and I was miserable, today I seek it for others, and I am the happiest person on earth.” ― Abhijit Naskar, Servitude is Sanctitude
“The value of life is lost when the pursuit of money becomes the goal as opposed to the pursuit of true happiness.” ― Steven Redhead, Life Is Simply A Game