Did anyone ackowledge that the phrase "pursuit of happiness" as it appears in the Declaration of Independence had quite another meaning at the time of its writing than is generally supposed today. While your inquiry with religious leaders would have its greater interest, no doubt, in the modern notion of an emotionally joyful or contented state, its meaning 235 years ago and now obsolete is not "joyful heart" at all but its precursor perhaps, "good circumstances." It is good fortune that we have the inalienable right to pursue, not any particular feelings. Fortunate circumstances. "Happiness" shares the root of "happen" and "perhaps." Happiness is when things go well. How you feel about it is a whole other issue. Happy is lucky. A person suffering misery, pain, and depression might be very happy. The avenue to happy feelings is appreciation. Which is why the old advice to overcome the blues is to "count your blessings."
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