Pursuit of Happyness
“You want something. You go get it. Period.” (Chris Gardner)
The film is based on the true story of Chris Gardner, who went through extreme poverty before ending up as a multi-millionaire. Some of the details were altered for the film: Linda, for example, is a mixture of the two women in Chris’s life, and solving the Rubik’s cube is fiction added to the plot.
Will Smith saw the real Chris Gardner interviewed on 20/20, an American human-interest program. Watching Chris walk into the bathroom in which he and his son had slept captured Smith’s attention and at that point he decided that he wanted to tell this story. When Smith met Gardner he felt an instant connection, particularly with the idea that a person has command over their future, whatever their situation.
Questions for Discussion
1. Did you like this film? Why/why not?
The message is okay, but as a film, I didn’t really enjoy watching it. It was pretty boring. The whole thing seemed like a big sob story setting up the lackluster scene where he gets his job. It seemed pretty boring to me.
2. What is happiness?
Emotional satisfaction. Joy. Everyone feels it. For many it is a reason to live. It is relative, so different people have different definitions of happiness.
3. Chris wants a better life for him and his son. What do you think he sees as happiness for his son? Do you think he makes the right decisions to achieve this?
I think he sees happiness as financial and social stability. He doesn’t want to have to struggle to find himself and his son a place to live and wants his son to be able to get what he wants.he does the right thing by trying to get the job. This way, even if he had to struggle for a while, in the end, he would have a stable high income job.
4. Do you think that people have an unalienable right (i.e. a right that should not be taken away from them) to happiness? Why/why not?
No. People should always be able to be happy. As long as something can help someone, without harming other people, it should be allowed. One person’s happiness isn’t hurting anyone.
5. “And it was at that time that I thought about Thomas Jefferson writing that Declaration of Independence. Him saying that we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I thought about how he knew to put the ‘pursuit’ in there, like no one can actually have happiness. We can only pursue it.”(Chris)
Do you think anyone can achieve happiness? Why/why not? Is pursuing happiness better than achieving happiness or not? Why?
Happiness is relative. What makes one person happy might be normal for someone else. So, anyone can find it. Pursuing happiness is a weird subject. Some people have tons of stuff and they keep pursuing happiness anyway. This can lead to some brash or harmful decisions. Otherwise, pursuing happiness is fine. Achieving happiness is not too simple. Happiness isn’t really a permanent emotion, so it can’t really be achieved, so pursuing it is better by default.
6. Do you believe that you can always get what you want if you try hard enough?
No. Some things are just not possible through effort alone. Everyone needs help sometimes no matter how hard they try.
7. How do you feel about Chris’s goals in life? To what extent do you identify with them in your own life?
He wants himself and his son to be happy. I would also like to live a happy and comfortable life like him.
8. What things do you think we should pursue in life? Is happiness one of those things? Why/why not?
Depending on one’s standards, happiness is one of the things we should pursue in life. The others are, your goal and money.
9. Do you think Chris should have tried to seek regular steady employment to provide for his family and prevent some of the hardships his family and son had to face?
Yes. However you look at it, it seems that Chris’s financial state at the beginning of the movie was a direct result of his incorrect speculations about the success of the machine he was trying to sell. If he had gotten a normal job instead of trying to get rich quick, he could have prevented most of his problems. Chris establishes himself as an intelligent person as well, so there is no doubt that he would have been able to get a job as well.