The Root of Unhappiness.


A good friend recently gave me a book, ‘The War of Art’ by Steven Pressfield.

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.
~Steven Pressfield, ‘The War of Art’

It’s a book about the forces that block creative action, and also includes thoughts on the forces of creativity seeking expression. I do recommend the book, and found it helpful. I also found myself needing to adjust pronouns a bit as I read because the voice is largely male-centric even though there are a couple of sections that use ‘she’ and ‘her’. So many “him”s and “he”s distracted me from the message until I started doing my own substitution.

Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease, and erectile dysfunction.

This is a quote from the beginning of the book that sets up resistance as an essential problem. The word “root” intrigues. Yet the quote also betrays a phallocentric viewpoint (that also carries throughout the book) by equating ‘erectile dysfunction’ (a male-bodied problem) with poverty and disease.

This problem of resistance the book pries apart and strategizes against is one that I deeply experience. A personal note I recently jotted said, “Resistance seems to be deeply wound with aspirations in my DNA.” I remember learning somewhere that within my living cells at any moment exist the very components that will facilitate rotting upon death. A law of cellular life is that death is enfolded within the life capsule, itself. And I’ve also heard that when someone takes on the joy and fulfillment of love with another person, they are also taking on (whether it is realized it or not) the pain of the love ending (whether through death or moving on). So maybe it shouldn’t surprise me that with dreams and aspirations towards making things better, there is a companion death wish energy that can interfere with good things ever happening or getting accomplished.

A root of unhappiness is this resistance if it is allowed to overshadow what we want to accomplish for the good of our selves and others. This kind of unhappiness might be viewed as a symptom of something being off, similar to the way we might see sniffles or sore throat as symptoms of a physical imbalance. Unhappiness could be seen as a symptom of a spiritual imbalance. Perhaps unexpressed dreams and aspirations are compromising our emotional wellness in some cases of sadness.


One of the sections in the book I was drawn towards is called ‘How to be Miserable.’ A few months ago I wrote a personal note in my calendar that said, “Time to be uncomfortable.” And just a couple of days ago a friend described that he imagines the most horrific demise for himself before he gets on his bicycle because he feels that it will give him emotional presence if something happens to him on the road—he’s already prepared by imagining the worst.

And it’s so hard to move forward towards accomplishing good things when resistance has enthralled thinking. One solution: prepare to be miserable.

The Marine Corps teaches you how to be miserable.
This is invaluable for an artist.

The artist committing their* self to a calling has volunteered for hell, whether they* know it or not. They* will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation.
* Pronouns neutralized by me.

There is an idea in our culture that being comfortable is the best thing, when physical comfort in the absence of living truthfully can be really depressing or suffocating. I was taught to be comfortable. And at some point I’ve identified that perhaps that is not really the best thing. Having some comfort for ones self can be great, to be sure. But when comfort is chosen and this comfort hides consciousness enhancing revelations, or world transforming ideas, and prevents meaningful action, then “comfort” becomes a manifestation of resistance and prevents people from making awe-inspiring and healing contributions to help our world.

So perhaps it is good to identify a root of potential unhappiness, and to strategize in an effort to create something helpful for people and the planet. It is not so easy because resistance is good at hiding itself, but stakes are high. It is worthwhile to consider this subject and to put into action what makes sense for what you want to do. And do it.

Live the life you think about that would make the world the better place.

Accomplish a dream.


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