Mark Kingwell's In Pursuit Of Happiness

Powerful Essays
Imagine people going through life simply feeling incredible. Imagine, you have never felt emotions like sadness, anger or fear. It would be a utopian world, wouldn’t it? But how would you know you are happy, or that your life is perfect without experiencing difficult times? In fact, these feelings are not only part of life but also, they are necessary to people's well-being. Feeling sad, once and while, is normal and necessary. Even in phases of life, such as childhood and adolescence, feeling blue is part of learning how to control emotions. Yet, medicine and science treat unhappiness and other feelings, such as anger and fear, as if they need to be deleted from people's lives; but will the absence of sadness guarantee happiness? The state…show more content…
In the movie, Riley’s first personified emotion is Joy, representing happiness, who has only one button in the ‘emotions control table.’ Although Sadness, Fear, Angry and Disgust have emerged during the early years of Riley's childhood, most of the time Joy is in control generating happy memories. As Mark Kingwell, in his article “In Pursuit Of Happiness,” states: “the desire to understand happiness, to get hold of it, is one that is common in our culture” (413). When Riley was a baby, Joy was her only emotion, creating only good memories. In fact, if people have happiness as their first emotion, feeling joyful all their childhood, it is natural that people become obsessed with the pursuit of happiness. At least it can be an explanation for people trying to get rid of unpleasant feelings. However, the cycle of full happiness makes people feel that they ‘have’ to be cheerful all the time, or that happiness should be in control all the time creating only 'good' memories. When Riley arrived at the new house, it was not what she expected, and she had to sleep on the floor because her furniture had not arrived yet. But, even feeling uncomfortable, with the situation, she was goofing with her father, trying to convince herself that everything is going to be right and re-establishing her…show more content…
Martin Seligman, professor of psychology, and author of “A Balanced Psychology and a Full Life”, explains that “Psychologists and Psychiatrists can boast that we are now able to make troubled people less miserable, and that is surely a significant scientific accomplishment,” however “the absence of maladies does not constitute happiness” (418). In the film, Riley’s dad is upset with her aggressive reaction, and he did not understand that Riley was suffering and asking for help. Seligman identifies “three constituents of happiness: (i) pleasure (or positive emotion); (ii) engagement; (iii) meaning” (418). Riley lost the three elements of happiness when her Islands of Personality collapses. She lost her pleasure after an awful day at school when her dad came into the room and tried to cheer Riley up by acting goofy, she rolled over and faces the wall, causing Goofball Island to crumble. Then, Riley lost the engagement, when she couldn’t concentrate on the Hockey trials and failed to play, losing the Hockey Island too. And, the third element, meaning, is lost when she runs away from home, crashing out the Family Island. While Riley was seeking happiness, Joy and Sadness were trying to go back to the control room, always together. At one point, Joy left Sadness behind and decided to return alone to the
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