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Cartoonist Michael Leunig: Happiness Is a Small Thing

I came across the work of Michael Leunig on my father’s bookshelf as a child. I was a fan then, and I still am now.

Leunig’s books were full of cartoons that were simple, funny, and insightful.

Some pages had colorful paintings, small poems, men with curly heads, and an awful lot of love for ducks.

In 2013, he was invited to give a talk on happiness, and this is how it went:

Something that stood out to me was the idea of happiness just being in the simple things, and perhaps it’s not something to be pursued.

Leunig drew a small cartoon that shows a man and a duck walking away from a sign that says Happiness.

Happily Walking Away From Happiness / Leunig. (Screenshot/YouTube)

‘Happily Walking Away From Happiness’/Leunig. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Here are some snippets of what he had to say:

“I think it is us that has become too big and part of happiness is shrinking ourselves back to a natural level where happiness is there for us and we can appreciate what we have at our feet and all around us and in nature.

“I have this idea nothing can be loved at speed – I think we are caught up in a great cycle of speed. I think it’s so hard to be natural at the velocity at which we are now asked to move. Nothing can be loved at speed I think that is pretty true.

“Real happiness does not look like happiness, and that’s probably a Daoist idea.”

I will leave you with one of his poems/cartoons titled At the Top. It was also made into a stop animated short film, which is above.

'At the Top' Michael Leunig. (Screenshot/YouTube)

‘At the Top,’ by Michael Leunig. (Screenshot/YouTube)

 

Michael Leunig. (Screenshot/YouTube)

‘At the Top,’ by Michael Leunig. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Michael Leunig. (Screenshot/YouTube)

‘At the Top,’ by Michael Leunig. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Michael Leunig. (Screenshot/YouTube)

‘At the Top,’ by Michael Leunig. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Michael Leunig. (Screenshot/YouTube)

‘At the Top,’ by Michael Leunig. (Screenshot/YouTube)

If you want to explore more of Michael Leunig’s work, click here; you won’t regret it.

“His commentary on political, cultural, and emotional life spans more than forty years and has often explored the idea of an innocent and sacred personal world. The fragile ecosystem of human nature and its relationship to the wider natural world is a related and recurrent theme,” from the Michael Leunig website.

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