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
- Did you like this film? Why/why not?
Yes, I liked this film because it showed many values in an entertaining way. It also showed what types of problems you could face in life if you spend your money in wrong places. You can end up broke and ruin many relationships. It also narrowed down and showed a father-son relationship between Chris and his son.
- What is happiness?
Happiness is a type of mental or emotional state which is defined by positive or pleasant emotions.
- 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?
Chris thinks his son should be able to go to a good school and learn properly and play basketball. He wants his son to be whatever he wants to be. He tells his son that “don’t let anyone stop you from achieving your dreams.” He wants his son to be able to live a life which isn’t filled with a negative environment. At first he didn’t make right decisions, but he slowly started realizing that he had to work hard to keep his and his son’s life going.
- 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?
Yes, I think people have an unalienable right to happiness because it is something that one can not live without. Living without happiness is like walking around with a dead body. It is important for everyone to feel happy. Nobody should be allowed to take it away from anyone.
- “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?
Yes, I think anyone can achieve happiness if they work hard and want it. If they are successful in pursuing, they can be successful in achieving. I think achieving happiness is better than pursuing it because the feeling you get when you are successful in something is like no other feeling in the world.
- Do you believe that you can always get what you want if you try hard enough?
Yes, You can get whatever you want if you try hard enough. If you believe in yourself and truly want something, you will be able to get it. You have the capability of doing anything.
- How do you feel about Chris’s goals in life? To what extent do you identify with them in your own life?
Chris’s goals in life weren’t good in the beginning. He wasn’t prepared to meet them at the beginning, but he slowly understood what he wanted. After that, he worked hard to fulfil his goals and be successful. They are nothing like what my goals are.
- What things do you think we should pursue in life? Is happiness one of those things? Why/why not?
I think we should pursue a good education, having healthy relationships, and happiness. Happiness is definitely one of those things because I think it is necessary to be able to live in a good way. It helps make your body feel great mentally and physically.
- 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, I think Chris made a big mistake in investing all his fortune on a product which he THOUGHT would sell. I think that was a huge risk. He didn’t know it would sell. He hoped it would. He failed to sell many and left his family in a poor condition. He could have had a more reliable job and stayed steady and could keep his family in a healthy shape.