RESEARCH N* Happiness

N understands happiness as a pursuit.

1 / Pursuit
Thomas Jefferson’s famous declaration that the self-evident rights of a citizen are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” created a unique equivalency. Happiness suddenly occupied the same status as universal truths like life and liberty. This happiness, however, was not state-given, nor endowed by a creator. Happiness became something to be pursued, something that preferred evasion.

2 / Chase
This pursuit of happiness describes the chase, a desire toward capture, a hunt. As a phrase it is pure dynamism, bristling action toward an outcome, a thing out of reach. The generative capacity of happiness lies in its drive towards a goal, rather than the static immersion in a single state of bliss.

3 / Target
Happiness is a moving target, one that requires a combination of dexterity and a nimble mind. The success of the pursuit lies not in speed but one’s ability to understand the target.

4 / Risk
Intelligence is perilous. To know one’s prey is to risk one’s humanity by becoming that which you are hunting. The satiation of happiness is the reward for chancing all in its capture. The failure describes the perpetual ecstasy of pursuit.

5 / Revel
To revel in the ambiguity of the pursuit is the creative condition.

6 / Conclusion
What’s at stake for design in this conversation is simply its own relevance. To posit the “pursuit of happiness” as central to the infrastructure of our society is to make bold claims on the future.

N believes that a conversation on happiness is predicated on critical optimism.