Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happyness

Steve Roller again, with your final edition of The Writer's Life this week.

No, I didn't forget to edit the subject line of this email. I know happiness is spelled with an "i," but I'm referring to the 2006 movie with Will Smith and his son Jaden.

The Pursuit of Happyness is based on the true story of Chris Gardner (played by Smith), a down-on-his-luck salesman who gets whacked by some serious life events and ends up homeless for a year in San Francisco.

The thing I like about the movie is that the main character has to deal with more pitfalls and obstacles than in the typical Hollywood feel-good movie.

Kind of like real life.

I have vivid memories of watching The Pursuit of Happyness just two months after I should have been at AWAI’s FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp.

You see, I registered for Bootcamp in 2006, but then I cancelled because I didn't think I was ready.

The movie touched me because I realized that Chris Gardner had ten times the problems I've ever experienced.

I was making excuses, and here was a guy who was a single parent, homeless, with no connections or experience in his newly chosen field (again, the movie is based on a true story). Yet he succeeded in not only getting a brokerage position with Dean Witter, but eventually becoming a Wall Street legend.

There's a great scene in the movie at the homeless shelter where Chris is staying. The reverend of the church there says, "The important thing about that freedom train, is it's got to climb mountains. We ALL have to climb mountains, you know. Mountains that go way up high, and mountains that go deep and low. Yes, we know what those mountains are here at Glide. We sing about them."

I can relate, and maybe you can, too. The top of the mountain is a glorious place to be, but it's in the valleys and trenches where careers are made.

I started this week of The Writer’s Life on Monday, July 4, with what I called your "Freedom Trail" map. We talked about making a Copywriter's Declaration of Independence. And if you missed it on Wednesday, I talked about baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and copywriting opportunities.

I believe we have an amazing opportunity in this land of purple mountain majesty. If you have entrepreneurial or selling skills, or both, the world is at your command.

The key is to put them into action, and like Chris Gardner, push through the rough times. It won't necessarily be a smooth, pleasant path. But good ol' Thomas Jefferson had something when he penned that bit about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Happiness itself doesn't have to be the goal. It's subjective anyway, you know?

It's when we're pursuing happiness that we feel most fulfilled. And that's available to all of us.

If you've had an experience of overcoming odds or pushing through obstacles and succeeding, I'd love to hear about it. You can tell me about it by posting a comment below.

And if it's a really good story, I know a Hollywood screenwriter who might be interested!

Best wishes as you pursue your version of happyness and the writer's life.

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Published: July 8, 2011

6 Responses to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happyness”

  1. Great Article Steve!

    The movie 'The Pursuit of Happyness' is one of my favorites; for the reason that I've lived a similar life - one with many obstacles & adversities including being homeless at the age of 16.

    I went on to build a real estate empire, creating a multi-million dollar portfolio within 18 months of investing in real estate. I now educate on how to achieve success, using my story to motivate, influence, inspire & empower! I was recently profiled in the Canadian Real Estate Magazine as 'Homeless to Millionaire' - one woman's journey to success!

    My mission is to remind individuals that where they find themselves today, does not determine who they are as a person and where they'll be tomorrow!

    Keep up the great work! I love reading the work AWAI produces!

    Shanna
    'Every Accomplishment begins in your thoughts - Start by thinking BIG today'

    ShannaJuly 10, 2011 at 9:18 pm

  2. I'm trying to pursue writng a book been through many things because of jealous people If you could help me i would greatly appreciated it

    Guest (audrey blue)July 14, 2011 at 3:24 pm

  3. i like the movie very much...its very inspiring...i have a dream..a very,very big dream...NOW,i feel that im stuck...i cant move freely...but one by one...i know i can free myself on what the hell inside me...very confusing ,very complicated,i think i easily fell down....ON WHAT WILL SMITH movie taught me is the persistency...its not the matter how your feelings is down..on how your life is very complicated... its a matter on how every morning you start your life

    Guest (ema)July 19, 2011 at 6:59 pm


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