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Fraser Trevor Fraser Trevor Author
Title: Important point to keep in mind is that we should stop worrying so much about finding happiness. Instead, concentrate on living today
Author: Fraser Trevor
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English: William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) (Photo credit: Wikipedia ) "Action may not always bring happiness, but...
English: William James (January 11, 1842 – Aug...
English: William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action." – William James, often called the father of American psychology, best-known for pragmatism, functionalism and the James-Lange theory of emotion (1842-1910)
How many times do we find ourselves saying that we just want to be happy? Or that we’d do anything to be happy again? If we think about it, we’re probably all guilty of uttering these words, or some just like them. But the truth of the matter is that words alone will never bring us happiness. In order to feel happy, we have to do something.
That’s right. We have to take action. If we just exist, that is, going about our daily activities in a sort of a boring routine, that’s a kind of action, but it isn’t really living. Existence is breathing and continuing to breathe. We can exist and still feel dead, not happy. So the secret to finding happiness has more to do with the quality of our effort in doing something than just doing anything at all.
So, what we have here is a kind of conundrum. We need to do something in order to have a chance at finding happiness, and not just anything, but something meaningful and worthwhile. How are we to figure out just what that something might be? Yes, it can seem difficult to try to find our way through this maze.
On the one hand, we know we want to remain in sobriety. That presents its own challenges, but if we adhere to the recovery principles, do the work of the Twelve Steps, and approach each day with a new-found sense of purpose and optimism, we will be not only doing ourselves a favor, we’ll also be building a stronger foundation in recovery and bringing ourselves closer to finding happiness.
Accomplishment in a job well-done has its own reward: a feeling of self-satisfaction, an increase in self-esteem, and the glimmer of feeling really good about ourselves. This is the very beginning of happiness, when we can recognize and take credit for the good that we have done. If the action we’ve taken helps to bring about a better circumstance for others in need, so much the better. But when we’re just starting off in early recovery, we should stick to trying to help ourselves get better grounded in what it takes to maintain our sobriety effectively. We will learn as we act, and as we act and learn, we grow. As we grow, our self-esteem, our self-confidence and, yes, even our happiness, will increase.
But, just as the quote from William James indicates, all action may not bring about happiness. It is nevertheless true that there can be no happiness without us first doing something. We might say that we have to act in order to deserve happiness, but that would be putting too harsh a spin on it. We all deserve to be happy. But being happy is not the same thing as finding happiness. Maybe a better way to put it is that we should live our lives in a proactive manner, striving to do good at all times, acting to better the lives of others and, in the process, helping to boost our own reservoir of good-will as well.
Another important point to keep in mind is that we should stop worrying so much about finding happiness. Instead, concentrate on living today to the best of our ability. Give everything we’ve got today. Tomorrow will arrive without our help. Tomorrow we will awake to another day and it will be yet another opportunity, just like today, to live in the present, to take action, to increase the likelihood that we will find happiness and be happy.
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