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There’s No Happiness Without Action

May 7, 2020

out of shape guy doing yoga trying to learn dog position his dog is holding yoga book open for him to reference

First of all, if you’re doing yoga, and you’re trying to master the Downward-Facing Dog Position, it pays to partner with an expert…blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

I drew the above for an article called “William James, Yoga, and
the Secret Of Happiness,” which appeared in the 03-01-20 edition of The Wall Street Journal.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Does this sound familiar: you’re going through a hard time. Life’s beating you up. So you withdraw. You retreat to some dark place where you’re safe, and away from it all.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

And how does it make you feel? Lousy, depressed.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

William James (1842-1910) wouldn’t find that surprising. James
is considered the Father of American Psychology. He believed our actions (or non-actions) largely dictate our emotional state. He wrote:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Panic is increased by flight… sobbing makes sorrow more acute… in rage, we work ourselves up…blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Sit all day in a moping posture, sigh, and reply to everything with a dismal voice, and your melancholy lingers…blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

And consider this arresting sentence:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we’re happy because
we laugh.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

In other words: Do something. Get moving. Inactivity is the enemy.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

John Kaag, the author of the WSJ article, had been going through a rough time. He decided to take James’ advice– and took up yoga.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

He experienced absolute agony at first, especially trying to do the downward-facing dog. But he persisted, and became a believer. He now sees yoga as “a type of emotional and physical spring training for the rest of my life.”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Which jibes nicely with something else James wrote: “Everybody should do at least two things each day that he hates to do, just for practice.”blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

We all get tempted to withdraw. To become inactive: physically, mentally, emotionally. It’s the road to misery and self-sabotage.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

A better path, quoting Mr Kaag: “We can actively form habits that teach us to risk ourselves, to fall, and then to use our dorsal muscles to stand up straight once again.”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Does action guarantee success and happiness? No, it doesn’t. William James knew this, and he summed up the situation with
this great one-liner:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Actions do not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

A few concluding thoughts:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

1. It pays to invest in humor. For yourself, for your brand. Laughter creates happiness, and people like those who make them happy.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

2. Happiness requires action. Action is always risky. You have to take risks if you want to succeed and be happy.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

3. There are no guarantees your actions will bear fruit. You have to act anyway.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

4. If you’re just doing the same things everyday, regardless of the outcome, you’re not acting. You’re sleepwalking.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

5. All that advice you’ve heard about tackling the most difficult tasks first is true. You have to do what you’d rather not do.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

6. Action drives emotion. The mind-body connection is real. Do yoga, whatever. Don’t sit and look at screens all day.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

7. We need to find a way to restart the economy. Unemployment is a threat to mental and physical health. Inactivity is the enemy.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

*       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *  blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, editorial, branding, social media, and content marketing. My images are different, like your brand needs to be.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Questions? Send me an email.blank vertical space, 40 pixels highRecommendation testimonial for Mark Armstrong Illustration from Tara Meehan head social media content Guardian Life Insurance Company

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 8, 2020 9:54 AM

    I’ll tell you what the “Secret of Happiness” is: landing on a post by Mark Armstrong and absorbing word by word, image by image and sigh. This counts for action, no?!!!!!

    Like

    • May 8, 2020 12:47 PM

      That’s about the best possible action you could take. And it inspired action at this end as well: I just did a triple somersault over the moon!! I would have tried for a quadruple, but your wonderful comment left me weak in the knees!! Guess it’s time to build my strength back up… 🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨😋💥🚑👽👽👽👽👽👽👽👽👽👽👽👽😊

      Liked by 1 person

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