Out for my morning constitutional today, I passed an unhappy jogger.
His steps were heavy. He was just pounding them out on the concrete sidewalk. He was pulled down and in. He was just gutting it out.
He plainly disliked what he was doing but must’ve felt some compulsion to be fit and to do a certain amount of cardiovascular exercise.
Most joggers I see appear unhappy in their activity. They make a poor testimonial for the joys of running.
I used to jog regularly. When I was 12 years old, I finished five marathons. Every day but the Sabbath I’d run at least five miles.
How much of that activity did I enjoy? Less than 10%. Occasionally, I’d get runner’s high, but most of the time I hated what I was doing.
I had terrible use. I was all contorted. I had bad posture and when I ran, I landed hard on my heels, jarring my whole body and leading me to knee problems that caused me to quit running at age 13.
I often encounter unhappy Orthodox Jews. They’re overwhelmed with obligations. They’re grumpy. And they’re a poor advertisement for Judaism.
Try to free your neck right now. Try to locate and let go of all muscular holding in your neck. Let go of all unnecessary tension. And have a gentle wish for your head to release forward and up, away from your torso.
It’s virtually impossible to be unhappy with a free neck. To feel unhappy, you have to tense your neck. You’re probably saying, I am unaware of tensing my neck when I feel unhappy. Yes, you are probably unaware of this hurtful habit, but you’re doing it. And without tensing your neck, you would not be unhappy.
If you find yourself doing things that you hate and you’re just slogging through them, take a moment to pause, free your neck of unnecessary tension, think up through your torso from your tailbone to the top of your head and think about the width across your back, and then so inclined return to your activity. Does it have a different quality now? Are you less unhappy?
When you find yourself angry or depressed or unhappy, free your neck, free your face from tension and think up through your torso. What does that do to your mood? What does that do to your use of your self? Chances are you’ll be more happy, more calm, more tranquil, more efficient and get more done with this new attitude.
I notice that whenever people are angry or unhappy, they’re pulling down and in on themselves.
When I notice people slogging through activity that they hate, they’re usually using themselves poorly. Their faces are rigid with tension. Their torsos are compressed. Their ribs barely move when they breathe. They’re all locked and loaded.