Sound Body, Sound Mind, Happy Soul

“A sound mind in a sound body is a short but full description of a happy state in this world”~John Locke

Mind, body and spirit are often considered together and associated with the road to happiness.  John Locke’s quote evidences the contemplated relationship between the physical, mental and spiritual contributors to our being.  He also understood how pursuit of happiness is inextricably intertwined with personal liberty.  Happiness is a big deal in the larger context of life.  However, all too often, happiness and its pursuit are only considered in the context of one’s mood or disposition.  Such a narrow vision of happiness is self-limiting and unlikely to lead one in pursuit of happiness at all.  There is more to the journey and the starting point may be far from where most think it begins.

To pursue happiness, one must first become sound of body; then, the mind and spirit will follow.  Seem like a strange approach?  Perhaps, but a different approach often seems strange.  The fact that the idea seems strange or different is the reason why so many fall short of the happiness mark.  We’ve become more and more accustomed to achievement through “education” or “intelligence” or “finding ourselves” rather than taking action to improve ourselves.  Taking action to exercise is as simple as going for a walk, picking a healthy food as opposed to sugar, or spending thirty minutes lifting weights instead of thirty minutes on Facebook.  Sometimes the easiest path is the path not taken, perhaps because it just seems too easy.  It is.

There are several reasons why the body comes first and should come first.  First, we are visual people.  We evaluate everyone we see “at first sight” including ourselves.  Look in the mirror—does that image make you think, “I am happy?”  If yes, great because you are ready to move on.  If not, then you already have all the information and incentive you need to act.  Get a plan and improve yourself to the perfect body you were gifted at birth.  Second, think of the ol’ saying “if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.”  Your health or lack thereof is your body.  If you want to have something that lasts then you must work yourself away from the nothing that ill health brings.  Getting your body right starts you on the path to getting the rest right as well.  Third, you have a moral obligation to yourself and to those you love to be your best.  Being your best makes them want to be their best right back.  Getting yourself on track, helping those you care about to get on track by advancing your life and pursuit of happiness all at the same time.

A sound body is key to a sound mind.  The mind is too often occupied by worry of ill health or self-deprecating thoughts related to weight or other issues.  Poor physical health and appearance have created innumerable cliques, divided people socially and caused endless mental suffering for those who have been ridiculed or even ostracized.  The number of such casualties is countless yet their suffering fades away into the fog of time without intervention.  The knee-jerk response to those of unsound body, whether ourself or another, is to reassure with “you look fine” or “you’re not over weight” and so on.  The current mindset that it is okay to be obese has complicated the issue further by accepting failure as the new normal.  Assuring others that it is okay to be of unsound body ensures that they will be of unsound mind and spirit as well.  That is right where the unhappy want you—within their ranks.  

Pursing the happiness created by pursuing a sound body through action right NOW changes your life.  Lying to others, or worse, to yourself by accepting anything less than a fit body is choosing to be unhappy.  Make a change.  Exercise your pursuit of happiness and get fit.  The others will follow as Locke recognized.


Pursuit of Happiness is the Only Cure to the Disease of Power

A little over a year ago, I finished a book titled “America, The Happy.”   The basic premise of the book is that America is the only place ever created on a promise to protect the pursuit of happiness; further, the one and only divide in America is between those who pursue happiness and those who choose to be unhappy.  The Founders couldn’t promise happiness to anyone but they did promise to protect the God-given liberty to attain it by choice.  Individual liberty and one’s free will to choose are the only two ingredients in the pursuit of happiness and this is the place to exercise them.

Liberty exists on a sliding scale from total anarchy to downright slavery.  History has shown that no place is perfect, but America has been the best by far at correcting its ills.  Government is supposed to exist as a wall from anarchy and a protector from slavery.  In happy times, the task is easy.  While some government intrusion is irritating or frustrating, most people notice few limitations on their daily activities.  Enter a perceived crisis with disproportionate, reactionary constraints and all bets are off.  The shackles of unhappiness come in many forms.

Politics aside, the government wields power when those who relish it seek to tighten their grips.  Covid 19 provided the opportunity and too many in power have chosen to choke off the pursuit of happiness.  However, far more are now choosing to wield their liberty instead.  The divide in this country has not been so great since The Civil War and this time neither slavery nor federalism is the subject.  This time, everyone’s freedoms are at stake and the divide is plainly out in the open for all see—even from behind a mask—though the masked will ignore it.

The divide is not merely political, it’s not liberal versus conservative, and it certainly is not socioeconomic.  The obvious divide in this country is between those who choose to pursue happiness and those who choose to be unhappy.  Nothing is certain at all in this life except one’s right to his or her own thoughts and the choice to act upon them or not.  While sickness has and always will end precious lives, a virus did not close any stores, take anyone’s job, or crash an economy.  The choices made by government in response to a perceived crisis caused all of those outcomes.  An alleged data-driven power grab of government always seeks to shrink individual liberties.  The unhappy, marginal actors in government seek to limit the pursuit of happiness it promised to protect.  The response is profoundly more destructive than any illness ever will be.  The plague is not the bug; the plague is power used to thwart the pursuit of happiness and create as many unhappy, obedient citizens as possible.

Happiness and its pursuit are characteristic of those who love life and liberty.  They are the Three Musketeers of the American Dream.  Freedom and the choice to act are gifts of happiness.  A desire to be taken care of and freedom from making choices are the backbone of the unhappy.  They accept the “new normal” of fervent governmental control and they like it.  The proof is in the mapping.  Simply take a look at a map documenting the Covid “hot spots” across the country.  Pay attention to the locations.  Then, in another window, open an election map from 2016 the dark red hot spots are the blue patches of unhappiness.  Coincidence?  Not on your life, your liberty or your pursuit of happiness.   All for one and one for all, or more aptly stated, E Pluribus Unum. 

A vaccine for an illness will not cure America.  Only a people, each of whom assert their individual liberty to purse happiness will cure America.  The assertion of rights has begun at barber shops, beaches and on the lawns of state capitol buildings all over America.  Bringing the God-given rights out from behind the mask of reactionary power-grabbing governments is powerful.  The pursuers of happiness will triumph as they always have.


The New Normal Is the Language of the Unhappy

Accepting normal or average is choosing to be a loser and choosing to fail.  Any news source, talking head or alleged expert proclaiming a new normal should be ignored—immediately.  Turn off the t.v., exit the site or turn and run.  Accepting normal is a far more deadly pandemic than any virus ever has been or every will be.  The “new normal” is a proclamation of accepting crisis and deterring exceptional actions that would cure the ills.  A dumbing down of the exceptional is never the solution to a problem.

For many, a new normal is unhappy utopia.  It is the promised land to bask in woe and don their masks out in the open.  The unhappy seek to add to their ranks and congregate in their chosen state of despair.  Hopefully, they will practice social distancing in these trying times.  Happiness pursuers are the cure to the chosen ills so they avoid all possibility of an antidote just as they have avoided the vaccine of happiness-pursuing freedom since they were able to (fail to) think.  Marginal, incompetent people subtly drag newbies to their new normal with guilt-avoiding words of phony affection.  After not too long however, the scourge of mediocrity becomes eventual despair and the unhappy like it.

Their language that includes the new normal is really nothing new at all.  It is the languor of life’s losers. There have always been, and always will be, the haves and the have-nots.  The dichotomy has zero to do with money, wealth or anything tangible; it has only to do with a simple choice between taking action to pursue happiness in life or not.  The happy haves reach far beyond normal and the unhappy have-nots fail to seek anything beyond the mediocrity of an ever-lowering bar.  The new normal is a jaded game of limbo and the end is always the same—the bar is set even lower and the willing participants will not reach it.

The language of positive thought and action is the path to happiness.  Do not accept normal whether it is marketed as something old or new.  Reject it.  Think of the best, act to be the best and you cannot fail to advance yourself toward the best.  Now that’s the happy talk.


Top Five Reasons Your Life is Happier Than You Think

1.  You’re reading this.  That means you have life and at least an ability to read the written word and form thoughts.  The best part is that thought is all you need to pursue happiness.

2.  Everything good (or bad) in life starts with thought.  As a matter of simple logic you now have all that you need to get started on anything you desire.  The thoughts that you have should coincide with your desires and point you in pursuit of happiness.  Form your positive thoughts and immediately start acting on them.  Write down small steps that you will take.  Each little step in the direction of your desire gets you a bit closer.  Noticed that only POSITIVE thought is mentioned here.  There is no place for the negative because the stuff you worry about or think negatively about rarely, if ever, come to pass.  

3.  Acting on thoughts is easy, but we are trained to think it’s hard.  We are trained to think it’s hard to act because too many would-be mentors in our lives have taught us that outside influences (ironically those same mentors in many cases) create our lives.  Your life is better than you think because all is under your control no matter the nonsense that you’ve been taught through most of your life.  Today is a new day and right now is the time to turn your positive thoughts into action IN SPITE OF what others have told you.

4.  Actions bring results.  When you have a positive thought and finally realize just how acting on them advances your life, you achieve results.  Some thoughts are merely small desires and other may be significant life changes.  Either way, taking action is mandatory for advancement and pursuing happiness.  Small desires may be achieved quite quickly and are good starting points in forming the habit of timely and decisive action.  The big desires may take a series of positive actions over several days, months or years.  Either way, you have the power on your own to advance your life.  Your life is better than you think.

5.  The power of thought and faith cannot be stolen from you.  No matter the circumstances, your power of thought and the faith in your own thoughts cannot be taken away.  Your perception of events in your life and how you respond to them are yours only.  Cast aside the negative or unsupportive thoughts of others, giving them no room in your mind.  Move ahead by acting on the faith in yourself.

Life is about advancement.  You and only you advance yourself through thought, action and the faith that keeping at it will get you what you desire most.  Your life is better than you think when you think about and pursue happiness.


Top 5 Happiness Courses Paired with Music—Life’s Perfect Happy Meal

First Course:  Gratitude

Express at least three things for which you are grateful paired with the song “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong  When things get tough, human nature often turns to a misery loves company response.  The flip side is what works in creating happier lives.  Rather than wallowing in fear or self-pity, take time to think about the positives in your life.  When you have the things you REALLY NEED, thinking about and expressing gratitude for them makes you happier.

Second Course: Worry-free Days

Focused thought to eliminate worry paired with “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin; or “Don’t Worry About A Thing” by Bob Marley  The best tip for reducing anxiety and pursuing happiness is first understanding that over 90% of the things you fear and worry over never happen.  A significant number of studies support this conclusion.  Start by understanding that your worst fears rarely happen.  You are not a victim of circumstances so even a pandemic may be overcome by perspective and your approach to the day.  Anxiety/fear during a crisis like this pandemic is no surprise. Having the mindfulness to put the fear aside is the best tool.  Coronavirus is today’s fear, but tomorrow’s will be something else.

Third Course:  Life Purpose

Think about your life purpose and put it in one concise thought paired with “My Way” by Frank Sinatra  Social distancing is the new term applicable to staying at a safe distance.  Alone time is an old saying but no less a promoter of health.  Use some of the extra time you now have to reflect on what’s most important.  Having a purpose, whether it’s being a great spouse or parent, a caregiver for the needy, a spiritual advisor or a mentor of others unequivocally increases happiness in your life.  Write out your purpose, make it official, and do it your way.  

Fourth Course:  Time

Think about the time you now have and pair it with “Time Is On Your Side” by The Rolling Stones. More time at home means no long commutes and less long hours away from home. More TIME to work more efficiently, and in turn, more time for families, kids, and yourself.  Happiness and wealth, two complex subjects, are connected to control over your own time and especially to your relationships with your children, family and other loved ones.  More time available means more time to be together and to pursue happiness.

Fifth Course:  Acting Happily

Start acting like a happy person aka, fake it ’til you make it— paired with “The Great Pretender” by The Platters.  Once your new actions become habit, then move forward to “Shiny, Happy People” by R.E.M.  As simple as it seems, acting happily and taking action in pursuit of happiness, makes you happier.  It works, guaranteed.

Evidence That Happiness Is All About Perspective–Even Amidst a Covid Crisis

Naysayers so often scoff at the idea that one may pursue happiness and then reach the light at the end of the tunnel.  Many don’t believe that happiness may be pursued at all.  They reside in an endless tunnel and their lack of vision is their existence.  Seeing only the tunnel walls and the blindness to the light is their only perspective.  The tunnel doesn’t cause the blindness and neither does their eyes; the cause is perspective and perspective is always a choice.

The evidence lies before our eyes during the current climate of crisis.  People in loving relationships are happier people.  This fact has been supported in myriad studies. In short, being with our loved ones is a good thing and promotes happiness.  Enter perspective.  On radio, t.v., social media and in conversation, I have heard endless complaints about “working from home among the kids” and the problems of sharing a home office or the kitchen table during the workday.  “Oh, how will one cope?” is the question.  The techniques for dealing with this new workplace is discussed as if it’s a foxhole in Vietnam. Endless other stories and commentaries speak to being cooped up with spouses or other loved ones for hours on end.  Everyday is Thanksgiving with a toxic family gathering.  What a tragic set of consequences; almost as bad the virus itself!

Are these cabin fever issues really evidence of a perspective problem?  By themselves, no.  However, I have heard as many stories expounding on the fear of loneliness and anxiety created by the stay-at-home orders and the “social distancing” demands that have been thrust upon us all.  If only others were around, things would be great.  “Oh, how will one go on without socializing in the office?” is the refrain.  No doubt, these are the same people who say “Happy Monday” or “Let’s get over the hump!” and the ever-popular “TGIF” week in and week out when they are at the office.  The totality of the negative is that there are always those who can’t live with ‘em and those who can’t live without ‘em.

Perspective is everything.  Hat-ahs gonna hate and the unhappy are gonna be unhappy either at home with family wishing they could go socialize at work, or at work wishing it was the weekend and they were at home.  Begin to change your perspective right now, practice the positive angle on every matter of the day, and soon it will become a habit.  Creating positive perspective followed by positive action is the only way to acquire a new habit and make positive change.  See the light, focus on it rather than the tunnel and bask in it.  The light will warm your soul.


*A perspective addendum in real time:  As I write this post, there is a beautiful snowfall with the large flakes we pray for on Christmas morning.  But, it’s April 17th, typically two weeks into the MLB season every prior year of my life.  Is the snowfall as beautiful as it would have been on Christmas morning?  The answer is found in perspective.

Happiness Is the Mind’s Silver Bullet

Steve Earle sung a great tune about “The Devil’s Right Hand.”  A pistol as the subject of the song is misguided, but it is a great tune nonetheless.  Objects or circumstances outside of us are neither the hand of evil nor the causes of what ails us.  We are our own Devil’s right hand and we are likewise our only defense against its destruction.

There is such a hand, but it touches us from within and stifles our advancement.  The true Devil’s right hand is hopelessness, a mindset created from negative thought founded on fear and discouragement.  Such thoughts go viral and consume from within.  The outward symptoms present in the form of familiar statements like “I just don’t have the time,” “It takes money to make money,” “I have other responsibilities to take care of first,” or the grandaddy of ‘em all, “If I could just get a break.”  Time, money and the “break” in these statements are merely excuses or rationalizations for failure, they are not circumstances of victimhood.  And, the most painful slap of the hand is this—we choose to be slapped.

Many never want to learn that the while a pistol can be a weapon for evil deeds, it is more useful as a tool of self-defense.  Our own thoughts and choices are the sole defenses against the reach of hopelessness.  Like a pistol, our own mind is either the tool that saves us by focusing on pursuit of happiness or takes our life with the bullet of discouragement. In either event, the operations’ purpose is chosen by the user.  Right up until the trigger is pulled, we have a clear choice between the Devil’s right hand or the silver bullet that kills off evil.  Take aim with your thoughts and then take action to be happy.  You are your own right hand.


Some See a COVID 19 Crisis, Others Choose to See “The Whole of the Moon”

The Waterboys made a record in the 80’s, my decade I might add, titled “The Whole of the Moon.”  The key chorus line is “I saw the crescent, you saw the whole of the moon.”  Life is all about perspective and the approach we take to the same circumstances.  Some see nothing, some see bits and pieces, other see the big picture and beyond by using more of their minds—“the whole of the moon” so to speak.

There are two parts of our lives in our exclusive control that make a real difference in how we approach today: our thoughts and our actions.  The way we perceive a circumstance is not the same as others see it.  One may see the crescent, the other the whole of the moon.  During the current Covid 19 experience, people will see the situation differently.  No doubt many will see disease, lost income, lower 401(k) numbers, missed opportunities at work and even the images of death.  Their vision will unfortunately end at the crescent.  Others with clearer vision will see opportunities for more time with family and/or loved ones, a better approach to fitness both physically and mentally, and an enhanced focus on the important things in life.  Perceived crises provide opportunities to those who express thoughts of gratitude.  They come to realize the positive whole from the same events others only see as a limiting crescent.

Crises also create action.  “I talk about wings, you just flew,” is my favorite lyric from the song.  So many waste time and talk about crises; in fact, they actually enjoy spreading the bad news.  The same folks who enjoy crisis-speak so often also talk about things they “would have” accomplished if the crisis never occurred or if they “just had more time” to spare.  They have never flown.  They likely will never fly. Those who have the opportunistic vision allowing them to see the whole do not merely create images with their minds.  They take action.  They fly.   Envision more by thinking more and accomplish more by acting more.  See the whole of the moon.


Evidence is the Place where Law, COVID 19 and Liberty Meet

“Are you going to believe me or your own eyes?”  This famous quote most often attributed to the Marx Brothers in “Duck Soup” has been altered on several occasions over the years adding the word “lyin” because it makes the question even more poignant by suggesting the conclusion.  The distinction between the evidence we see (or hear) and the alleged proof we are force-fed is often quite different, even acrimonious.  As a trial lawyer and advocate for the pursuit of happiness, aka individual liberty, these issues create the perfection intersection for discussion.

To begin, proof portends at least an implied conclusion and hurdles the concept of any critical thought.  Making the statement that one has proof that something works, or that proof is necessary before taking some action, already has the result in mind.  The result may be desired in some instances or unwanted in others.  However, the truth remains that when one argues in “proof” language, one already sees the result and seeks to reach it or to stop it. 

Evidence demands thought and asks the viewer/listener to reach a thoughtful conclusion.  The law deals in evidence, not proofs though many attorneys and “experts” in law use the term.  “The proofs will show. . .” is one of my most despised lines during a trial.  In law, burden of proof has different standards or levels precisely because to meet a burden, evidence is required and then the trier of fact, usually a jury, places those facts on the applicable burden scale for the type of case at hand.  When proofs are proclaimed, facts are usually missing or at least highly malleable.

The COVID 19 crisis poses the question of proof versus evidence quite nicely.  On t.v. and radio, medical experts or “scientists” have repeatedly said that there is no conclusive proof that certain therapies like hydroxychloroquine are effective in treating the virus.  They chirp that clinical trials, statistically significant testing and conclusive data are needed to prove that the relatively safe drug works.  The counter belief is that many physicians, also scientists one may add, have ordered the therapies and relieved very sick patients of the virus.  The results are offered as evidence that the therapies are effective at least in many individual cases.

Evidence is better than proof, at least as any individual should approach the question.  There is a simple question at the heart of the issue.  If you were sick (possibly dying) and offered a drug that was relatively safe and was shown to have been effective in many other individual patients, would you choose to undergo the therapy based on that evidence?  Or, would you choose to forego treatment and wait for the scientific proof from the experts who are looking at the statistical data?  How about for your child, or husband, or mom?  We all know the answer and some pretend they do not.  The same debate raged over HIV many years ago and the same Dr. Fauci was at its center.  As is often the case in matters where science meets ethics meets common sense, those on the side of evidence become those wanting the proof, and those on the side of waiting for proof want to proceed on the evidence.  Interesting?  Not really, just foolish.  

In a trial, juries decide cases based on evidence presented combined with their everyday life experiences, or common sense as we call it.  The proponents of evidence desire no more than allowing individuals to be presented with the facts and then deciding for themselves what actions are warranted.  The advocates of proof want to look for conclusions and then decide for everyone else.  In short, evidence allows liberty and proof suppresses it.  Like Devo, “I’ll say it again in the land of the free”—“Freedom of choice is what you’ve got; Freedom from choice is you want.”

The happy want evidence so they can act, the unhappy want proof so they have an excuse to wait.