Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others. ~Buddha
Archaeologist, architect, author, horticulturist, inventor, paleontologist, and statesman the one-man Renaissance that was Thomas Jefferson was born into a well-heeled family on April 13, 1743, in Albemarle County, Virginia. He studied at the College of William and Mary, and because of his extensive travels and all of the nifty stuff he stumbled across while exploring, he's responsible for introducing vanilla ice cream, macaroni and the indoor cook stove to Colonial America, all before becoming the third president of the United States.
Though quite the ladies' man, he was also self-conscious of his lanky, fair-haired and freckly silhouette. Luckily for us all, Thomas Jefferson was a keen observer of humankind and an articulate writer and journalist and rather than yammering on and on and waxing poetic as did many of his peers in the Continental Congress, Jefferson chose to contribute his flair for the written word to the new American patriotic cause. Muted by his insecurities and humility, in 1776, at the youngish age of 33, Jefferson penned our Declaration of Independence, a document relating the loftiest ideals of death to tyranny and the birth of Democracy.
The first draft of the Declaration of Independence addressed "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of property." Jefferson, in his infinite wisdom, insisted on the change that all these years later still reads: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
I'm guessing that Jefferson didn't merely mean the happiness we get from The Partridge Family reruns, or being the first on our block with a new iPhone, but rather, the happiness we feel for and with those around us. The pursuit of our dreams to rise above our station in life, and provide a better world for our children than the one we inherited. To be honestly happy when others have something good happen to them (though even Jefferson would have hated whoever won last week's Mega Millions lotto!).
The kind of true happiness that allows us to move beyond our conventional barriers, to embrace a faith that embraces us back, to be content, to be grateful, to show gratitude for the little stuff and to be joyously willing to share ourselves with the world. Whatever our current situation, our new democracy would allow us to pursue happiness any-which-way.
Folks find happiness in so many different ways. Sarah Jessica finds hers in her Jimmy Choo pumps. For Oprah it's her huge (ummm...) viewer-ship and a fresh bar of soap for each hand washing. Tiger finds his center when he's got a nine-iron in his hands. Ozzy is one with the universe when he's pulverizing what's left of his vocal cords. And Britney, well let's just say she seems to be doing more pursuing than finding at this stage in her life.
And where do I pursue my happiness? Well, that's a piece of cake a hunk of it that is. Especially when it's glopped and crusted onto our stainless steel range. Thanks to founding father, and foodie, Thomas Jefferson, he himself prepared the way to my never-ending joy. As proud as he may have been to have invented the first "modern" built-in kitchen stove, generations later I'm my happiest when our stove sparkles. (Believe it...I'm really that shallow.)
Instead of using the expensive commercial stuff to make the stovetop sparkle and shine, I apply a generous sprinkling of unadulterated baking soda directly onto the greasy-grimy-goopy mess of an overspill. With a lightly dampened dishcloth and just a touch of elbow grease, our entire oven is as clean and shiny as the day it was delivered. (Remember: Never, never, never use those green, wire or steel wool pads on your precious metal surfaces. Treat them like gold and they'll shine forever.)
Had Jefferson done the same, his stove might still be in the same condition as when he invented it. But then again, he was kinda busy pursuing so many other things that gave him happiness.
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