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  • Jason McCarty

Just Do It

In 1988 Nike hired an ad agency that coined the slogan JUST DO IT. I have grown up with this slogan being a large part of my life and culture. I have been thinking a lot about this slogan and how it pertains to one’s ability to fall forward or not.

I recently read an article where a psychoanalyst was talking about the “just do it” culture we live in and how therapy is a very different, usually slower process. He talked about the slogan missing “feeling” and “thinking.” I agree with a lot of what he said but I have some other thoughts on the matter. I used to think a “go get em” attitude, a fast paced culture, a thoughtless move forward mentality, were all problematic. I used to think always focusing on solutions and not on depth left us all shallow. I have recently come to appreciate a balance here.

While I agree that we often miss thinking and feeling in our society, we also miss HOW to “just do it.” We all need thinking, feeling, and action in our lives. Sometimes we need to do nothing. Sometimes we have to wait. But when it comes to getting unstuck a lot of the time, the problem is often just getting out and doing something. When people are just DOing it with no attention to themselves, their feelings, their heart, then it is pointless doing. But when there has been lots of thinking and feeling and no doing, then we need to just do it.

Recently I read a quote by Billy Cox that said, “Doing doesn’t come from inspiration, inspiration comes from doing.” This quote very much gets to the idea I want to address. What I believe the psychoanlyst and other psychotherapies fall prey to, is the idea that if we can just think and feel it through well enough, analyze our lives enough, inspiration and doing will come. This seems to be the way our entire culture behaves. People are either blindly acting, or thinking out their next step too much. We need thinking, feeling, and action.

But for this essay I just want to focus on why we need action. We often have desires of the heart but talk ourselves out of going after them. We often have vague inclinations but never look into them because they do not seem logical. We are also a “how to” culture, not only a “just do it” culture. Psychology can fall prey to getting stuck in the “how to” of living life. Sometimes we need to jump in. Sometimes we just need to explore directions our heart wants to take. Sometimes we need to act and the inspiration will come.

So where do thinking and feeling come in? Well, they are the ways to our heart. Our heart speaks to us. We have come to think that the heart only speaks to us through well reasoned thought, but that is only part of the process. It also speaks to our body and to other feelings and emotions we have about our lives. When we don’t listen we pay the price of being stuck. We pay the price of depression, anxiety, and hating our lives. Following our heart, our passion, the small voice in the corner telling you to paint, or play an instrument, or buy a motorcycle, will only ever make sense after we try. The well reasoned thought will come later.

I’m surprised that my philosophy is moving in this direction. It feels like behaviorism, where all we need to do is behave differently and we will think and feel differently. But I see it as a more tightly knit relationship of feeling and thinking and doing. They need to exist at the same time in order to fully be alive. Just reducing us to behaviors or thoughts or feelings is reductionism and not helpful. We are living, breathing organisms that need to be pulsating. When we stay on the couch and wait for inspiration we are not pulsating. We are bored and dead.

What do you need to act on today?

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