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Grace Frideger

Sara Pice
Section 1
We Are Because We Belong
In the human existence, there are few things we need to survive: food, water and shelter.
However, there is one thing we need to thrive: happiness. Happiness, the pinnacle of emotion, is
defined as no specific thing yet defined by everything. Being such complex beings, we have the
ability to feel the strongest of emotions, fear that cripples, excitement that makes us ecstatic,
confusion that leaves us at a loss, and of course the most complex feeling, happiness. The
importance of happiness to a person is monumental. It allows us to experience every other
emotion the way we do, it allows us to create, play, corporate, appreciate, grow, connect, it
allows us to be human. In the movie Happy, a documentary analyzing happiness, it divulges that
40% of your happiness is controlled by your intentional actions, meaning that you are completely
able to create your own sustainable euphoria through your own behavior and mindset. When a
person strives to forge a life rich in meaning and purpose, focuses on creating a life full of
connections to communities, people, and ideas, and works towards the overall well being and joy
of society, the individual can truly discover their personal happiness.
As a human being, finding a meaning in ones life is imperative to reaching a lasting
sense of happiness. Adding meaning to this emotion actually expands the impact that happiness
has on us. Without it, we are more self involved and isolated beings. In The Atlantic, the article
Theres More to Life Than Being Happy by Emily Esfahani Smith it remarks that Meaning
transcends the self while happiness is all about giving the self what it wants. Essentially what
this quote illustrates is that meaning gives happiness more of a purpose, something that is more
important than just your own emotion. Purpose allows you to feel more content and connected to
others. In this same article, this excerpt sheds light on the necessity for meaning in another way.
It states, Research has shown that having purpose and meaning in life increases overall wellbeing and life satisfaction, improves mental health and physical health, enhances resilience,
enhances self esteem and decreased chances of depression. This voices that meaning is needed
as a human in order to be a well-adjusted, well-rounded, and confident being. The individual
quest for bliss is hard and continuous but adding meaning and purpose are the preeminent first
steps.
Happiness not only needs meaning but also requires one of our most fundamental needs,
connection and community. Since the beginning of our existence, we have required to feel
involved and part of something in order to not only thrive but actually survive. Connection to
people and ideas allows us to discover ourselves, our beliefs, and ensure our feeling of inclusion
and happiness. In the movie I AM, Directed by Tom Shadyac, an author by the name of Thom
Hartmann explains that If we didn't have a sense of community, the human race would not have
persisted. This outlines the fact that without community we, as a species, would have crumbled.

The foundation of our culture would not have persisted. We would have stopped wanting to
advance and evolve which would have led to our extinction. Connection is a key building block
in not only our psyches but also our society. Building upon this idea, in the same movie I AM, the
Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, Desmond Tutu, expresses that I depend utterly,
completely on other human beings in order for me to be human. The truth of who we are is that
we are because we belong. Tutu put this idea into such elegant language. He sheds light on the
fact that we are connected from the moment we are born. Connected to our mothers and family,
in the way that they teach us to talk, walk, eat, and think. Connected to the world by walking,
breathing, thinking, contributing. We are connected to all the people around us, all searching
together for our own meaning, connection, and indispensable happiness.
Our own happiness is vital to our existence, but happiness for overall society is
something of equal importance. In the movie Happy, Ed Diener, a professor in Psychology
conveys this thought: Think of things bigger than yourself [...] once you move to those spiritual
emotions [compassion, gratitude, happiness] and worry about the well being of the world, your
life grows, you care about something bigger than yourself. You, in a way can transcend your own
life, your own death. The incredible thing about this is that, while working towards a happier
society, you are in turn increasing your own by bringing a feeling of connection and meaning to
your life. It erases the feeling of a selfish quest for happiness. Contributing to the happiness of
something larger than yourself is in your DNA, we are wired to get this feeling to help, to
change, to make others happier. In the movie I AM, Thom Hartmann excitedly explains that,
Its in our DNA, we are born to be egalitarian democratic, we are born to respect each other, we
are born to be community, we are born to be our brothers keeper! We are born to live in a
happy society, so lets work towards being what our species is intended to be.
After reading this you're probably wondering why, why did I devote an entire essay to the
concept we are taught about when we are little and then expected to know and achieve when we
grow up? Why talk about it when, in America our happiness is supposed to be a guarantee when
we achieve the American Dream, when we have lots of money, a good job. But what happens
when you're not happy after getting all of theses things? So again, why is learning about
happiness important, why is this essay important? Because happiness, real intrinsic, meaningful,
connection-based happiness is a fundamental piece in our lives that is underrepresented, covered
by the consent speech with the ending that happiness will come through consumption, money,
and the generic idea of success. But what we need to revise this speech to talk about is the
requisite need to dig deeper into your complex emotions, to find your authentic, sustainable
happiness, to work to play, to find your community, to feel the most satisfying happiness, to
create a society with all these values instilled. In I AM, the director eagerly encourages us that
Each of us in our trillion weird miraculous cells that make us up, we really do have the power to
change the world! So, as he says, yes, lets change the world, change our happiness to be full of
meaning, connection, and inclusion. If our skewed vision of happiness continues to be the

extrinsic, self-centered, unfulfilling emotion we settle for, our society will crumble in on itself,
unable to fulfil its own nature, we will go on to only survive, not thrive.