Running After Happiness

In the last few years, there seems to have been a HUGE increase in research and media around what makes humans happy. Scientists, and humans of all types, are looking to better understand what works and then provide more opportunities for making us all happier! How nice and happy of them. So, of course, I too LOVE the idea of becoming happier, surrounded by happy people all living on a planet full of positive vibes ;)- But before I sign up for the Happiness App or start taking the Get Happy Pills I saw on sale at Whole foods, I first thought I should gain a perspective on our instinctual bliss seeking path. As a Coach, most of my Humans start off introducing themselves as lacking this happy magic so off to discover new tools I ran!  

My own first learnings of the ‘Happiness Path’ are directly linked to another path called ‘The American Dream’. As a child of Immigrants, I was raised to be a seeker of food, shelter, safety, and belonging. Happiness was not a thing on the list of survival needs and I had zero clue about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs* pyramid for consulting. The world I knew, as a majority of the Global population today only knows, is one of the basic Human physiological needs 1* (air, water, shelter, food, sleep, clothing, reproductive opportunity). First and foremost Humans must have these simply to survive. It is logical that if we do not have these basic needs met, we can not use our energy, thoughts, nor any resources to search for anything beyond. Gratefully my hard-working family did find these in America, and so then we moved on towards the next level which is Human safety needs 2* (security, employment, finances, health, property). Privileged to be white and speak English in this country, my family and I checked these off our list gradually while I was getting educated in the public school system. BUT something strange happened between Junior High and High School when the third level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs* revealed a massive roadblock for me. Ultimately this caused my first life crisis, as it can for all Humans no matter the age. That next third level is Human love and belonging needs 3*(friendship, family, community acceptance, sense of connection). Ouch, conquering this level is FING HARD and in fact, I believe it to be an epidemic of our current times. Many Humans are lacking self-love, love for others, community connections, and a true sense of belonging. For me, it took almost dying at the age of 16, and for many, they do die, before they can navigate this human needs hurdle. Based on experience, growth, and my opinion I think that due to digital technology dominating our lives and numerous other post-pandemic fall outs we have made it difficult for all ages of Humans to conquer level 3. Humans need other humans, not digital or artificial relationship forms. Touch, talk, eye contact, shared experiences, body language, and in-person forms of love and connection are critical to us thriving. If we are to gain background on our global physical and mental health crisis, then we must take action to change the current way of life for most people. 

According to Maslow, level four is Human esteem needs 4* (respect, self-esteem, recognition, confidence, freedom). Now, these are hard and require massive awareness, personal development, and ongoing self-investment. As a Coach, this area is my JAM. So you may have gathered, once we moved past 1 and 2, we transition from physical survival needs to social and then mental/emotional needs. In America, the majority of us get stuck here on the 3rd or 4th story of the building. But like the Game Of Life, you can not jump ahead. If you have not yet met 1, 2, 3, or 4 need levels then going up to level 5 is impossible. 

The tip top of Maslow’s pyramid holds high the Human self-actualization needs 5* (morality, potential, creativity, lack of prejudice). As a person who began personal growth and human connection work at a young age, forced to by crisis adaptation, I am ALL IN now at age 53 on levels 3, 4, and 5. My life is on fire with a passion to help others on the Path (no matter their level), and I find it interesting that I do not see HAPPINESS ranked on the pyramid at all. Are conquering the levels what makes us happy? Do we find happiness hiding between the levels as a sense of internal drive? Maybe happiness is what we are taught, learn, and who we become on the climb? Or perhaps happiness can only be found at the top, as our twisted society wants us to believe?   

Well here is what I know to be true: happiness is not a destination to arrive at or something to continuously strive upward towards. Happiness can not be bought, sold, or swallowed. Happiness is not inside my phone or anywhere in cyberspace. Happiness is not a special delivery from someone else. Happiness is not what we need to obsessively chase or be jealous of when we see it in others. Happiness is not determined by what level of the pyramid (or high-rise penthouse) we are on either. I witnessed these truths in South Africa and Australia last year crystal clear and inside the lives of so many less fortunate Humans. 

For me, happiness is simply an emotion that I feel (in varied degrees at varied times of course) resulting from experiences that I have. Like my daily run- taking forward actions that are driven by my thoughts- I create experiences. My experience results come from my perspective and my reaction. Now more than ever, I choose to think and then act in ways each day that build my positive vibes bank account! I decide (except on those nasty random dark days) that I can make happiness happen in my life. WHY? Because I deserve it, just like you do. It is imperative that all Humans take back their minds, bodies, and lives so that together we can not only be happy- but so that the world we are building for those around and after us can be happy too. In summary, WE are the happy app and pill.  

Story by Samantha Pruitt

Story by Samantha Pruitt

Co-Founder & Podcast Host @ EnduranceTownUSA, Ultra Endurance Athlete & Outdoor Adventurer, Blogger, Life & Business Development Coach

Facebook: Samantha Pruitt

Instagram: @thesamanthapruitt

Email: [email protected] 

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