All men…wish to live happily, but are dull at perceiving exactly what it is that makes life happy,” attributed to Roman Philosopher Seneca.

“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” is a well-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. The phrase identifies the ‘unalienable rights’ which the Declaration says have been given to all humans by their creator, and which governments are created to protect.

Why is the pursuit of happiness so difficult?

Most of us want to be happy, but being ‘The Police’ often finds it in short supply. We find ourselves encountering people on the worst day of their lives and too often running towards gun shots. Of course, a horrible car wreck involving the elderly and infants can take a toll on just about anyone.

Officers must work hard to be happy.   Seeking happiness can truly be challenging.  The tragedy for numerous officers isn’t that we can’t find happiness. Rather, we are seeking it in the wrong places.

How many officers do you know that find happiness at the bar?


How many of you believe that happiness is working mindless overtime which causes you to be away from you family constantly?

How many cops do you know who ‘think’ they are finding happiness in an extramarital affair?

Do you know officers who are unable to find happiness because they are filled with so much resentment and anger that they are incapable of being happy?

Many of us believe we are happy, when in reality, we are seeking pleasure – not happiness.  We are letting our anger and our ego direct us when we are looking for pleasure.

So many cops wearing the uniform are hurting – yet they pretend to be ‘happy.’


I am guilty. 

I would pretend to be happy, when in fact, I wasn’t.

Every traffic stop, every call of a suspicious person or search warrant I handled was dangerous.  Most people do not understand that there is nothing ‘routine’ about this job.  It is hard to be happy when your head is on a swivel as you search for danger. It is also gut-wrenching to be walking on eggshells because of an incompetent and unethical supervisor.

Add the fact that the people you are serving couldn’t care less about you.

All of the pain and suffering observed by officers daily has REAL consequences.  It is no surprise that finding happiness for many of our brothers and sisters can be such a difficult task.

Many cops seek happiness in materialistic pleasure.   Do you know any officers who spend more than they make? Do you know any cops who have a nice house and a new car but, who are asking you to pay for their lunch?

A common question then becomes, are these officers with the most toys happier?  I doubt it.

These cops need to rid themselves of the attitude ‘The more you make, the more you have and the more you want.’  Your appetite for material stuff grows because you’re using faulty thinking like: “I work a stressful job and I deserve the nice things now!”

You are fooling yourself.

Some unhappy officers blame their unhappiness on other people. Common scapegoats are: the community they serve, their spouse, a troubled child, an in-law or a supervisor at work.  However, there is a price to pay for this flawed logic.

Cops begin to conclude that happiness does not exist. Therefore, it is better to just give up. The bitterness, anger and lack of forgiveness can consume us.  For so many, these blunders can occur and make finding happiness impossible.

Francisco Ugarte, author of Choosing Happiness – Working Within”, points out that happiness depends on personal choices and it involves diverse aspects of our behavior, our lives, and our beings.  Here are a few of his points.

  • Choosing attitudes that favor happiness. If we want to be optimistic, we must look at the positive side of things. Do you see the glass half full or half empty?
  • Watch our reactions. We are in command of the way we react to the events that happen around us. Learn to be grateful for the smallest things.
  • Avoid an egocentric orientation. You have to aim at avoiding self-centered passions and focus on acquiring those affections and those interests which will prevent our thoughts from dwelling on ourselves.
  • Orient your life towards gratification rather than pleasures. Gratification engages us fully, enjoy a good conversation, a long walk or read a good book.
  • We ourselves, have to make the decision to be happy. Making a personal choice for happiness is something that one constructs, brick by brick. Learning to be happy takes time, work on living in the present moment and (try to) be happy. Slow down and be grateful for what you have today, not what you don’t have tomorrow.

Aristotle, who lived in the 4th century, didn’t equate happiness to wealth, pleasure or fame.  For him, happiness was an internal state of mind – a serenity that we can acquire only by living life the best way possible through self-improvement.

Aristotle saw that the fortunate elite members of his era were, in fact, miserable.   He went on to say these people spent their lives acquiring material possessions, but on some level they knew deep down these interests were not conducive to real authentic happiness.

Are you living your best life?  If not, make a conscious effort – you just might be happier.

At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.



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