Declaration of Independence

No, I didn’t misspell the title of this blog post. 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 the typical Hollywood feel-good movie.

Kind of like real life.

I have vivid memories of watching The Pursuit of Happyness at the end of 2006, two years after I first discovered copywriting, and two years before I would finally act on it.

A good, salaried job kept me from going after copywriting with gusto like I should have. I kept letting little obstacles get in the way, like lack of time, lack of direction, and lack of knowledge.

It 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.

What are you pursuing?

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 believe we have an amazing opportunity in this land of purple mountain majesty. If you have copywriting and entrepreneurial skills, 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.

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

As you pursue your version of happyness and the writer’s life, let me know if I can help with advice, copy critiques, training, or anything else.

Steve Roller

Author Steve Roller

I'm a business coach, author, copywriter, world traveler (33 countries on five continents so far), and professional speaker. In addition to helping companies get more customers and make more money, I help other writers create profitable businesses. I offer one-on-one coaching, professional copy critiques, and live, in-person business-building workshops. When I'm not writing, coaching, or speaking, I enjoy nothing more than hanging out with my wife and four kids and planning my next adventure.

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Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • Michelle says:

    This is a great article… and a great movie too! Thank you for putting it all in prospective. Encouragement like this is what I need to stay focused and steady climb to the top of the mountain … In the pursuit if my own happyness.

    Thanks Steve … Have a great holiday with your family! 🙂

  • I saw this movie recently, Steve, and loved it.

    I can truly relate to the mountains and the valleys – I am emerging from a valley and approaching the summit of the present peak in my life, so here’s hoping that the work will eventually pay off … or pay out!

    • Steve Roller says:

      Yes, that mountain/valley analogy is powerful, isn’t it? Sometimes it seems my whole life has been one or the other, without some nice, even plateaus to hang out on! From everything I’ve been hearing you talk about, Ann, I think you’re on the verge of a breakthrough. By the way, don’t know if you saw my recent post, but the Ultimate Writing Retreat will be held in Quito, Ecuador, June 25-28, 2014. I already have three people making plans to be there, hope you can join us.

  • Alan says:

    Oddly enough Steve today my son Alex and I actually climbed a mountain…Mt. Monadnock in N.H. So the quote in your article held a special meaning. On the way we talked about how it’s the journey that matters most…”the pursuit of a worthy ideal” as Earl Nightingale phrased it. Therein lies the “happyness” as we boldly step toward our goal.

    Thanks for your thoughts Steve and enjoy the bounty of the Fourth!

    • Steve Roller says:

      Thanks, Alan. Your Earl Nightingale comment reminded me of how much I love the language he used. Keeping those kinds of words and thoughts in the forefront of your mind goes a long way toward achieving a goal.

      Hope you and your son enjoyed the climb! You’re in a beautiful part of the country.

  • Great stuff Steve!

  • Thanks for the reminder, Steve. That really was a great movie, and took away all of our excuses. We all have so much possibility in front of us, and the pursuit is exciting!


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