Saturday, April 25, 2009

And 10 more reasons to be happy

Detail from another kitchen
painting. These things
are long and thin. The theory
being that anyone can find a long,
thin place, even in a small
house. But I must say they look
great cropped.

What the heck? Why not have an entire happy weekend.
To continue from yesterday -- I tell my students that
people believe erroneously that being happy is frivolous,
a state preferred by people with feeble brains.
I assure them that in fact the opposite is true. Happiness
is a skill, and takes a highly developed and imaginative
brain. And I go one step farther -- I say it is a choice.
You can choose to be happy, angry, miserable. The
people at The University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology
Commons agree with me. And in fact you can learn to be
happy. Dr. Martin Seligman at Penn says that the
difference between happy people and unhappy people
has very little to do with degrees of wealth, illness or
freedom from harsh life circumstances. Happy people
think differently. That's the difference.

So on this very busy Saturday let me give you
more reasons from this small semi-detached house in Toronto.

10 More reasons to be happy
1. I slept in.
2. I read my fabulous book for an hour!
3. My husband Steven made dinner.
4. Our power stayed on in the severe storm today.
5. My friend is over using our power because hers
is off and we're going to have coffee and talk.
6. I've marked all of my exams (117)!!!!
7. And that means I'm finished marking!!!!!!!
8. My son applied for 30 summer jobs today.
9. I read wonderful blogs and imagined my life in art next week.
10. I'm going to watch a movie on TV with my sweetheart.

Have a wow-this-10-reasons-to-be-happy-idea-is-


Melinda said...

Another great post and very important points. While it can be the hardest choice to make (choosing happiness in difficult times or merely stressful times), I completely agree that the more one turns away from deep negativity, the easier things become to bear. I heard that we cannot be angry or sad while smiling. Maybe I'm a simpleton, but this does work for me.

This is a beautifully composed painting. I'm glad that you are alright and that you made good things out of a stormy day.

Janelle Goodwin said...

Just reading your post made me happy. What a wonderful reminder - that we're knee deep in bliss and don't even realize it. I'm sure that you're a wonderful influence on your students!

Liza Hirst said...

Yes, I agree, your students are so lucky to have you as a teacher!!!
Another beautiful, vibrant and happy painting, Barbara! You managed to transmit the joyful atmosphere of your kitchen. Great!

Laura Trevey said...

Love your blog, just found it!

laura said...

Wonderful list, Barbara. I believe the researchers at Penn are right: I had a tendency to get a little sulky (I'm sorry to admit) but Peter (my signifcant other) is always happy, positive: he's my role model!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

I think you're right. Being happy doesn't mean you don't cry, or get sad, or even angry. It means that you choose in as many moments as possible to recognize what is good, satisfactory, wonderful. And it means that you try to figure out what makes you happy, and have that in your life. In my case writing this blog and painting make me happy. It's funny but the brain apparently reads a smile as a clue that we already are happy. Have you ever looked in the mirror frowning and saying some annoyed mutter, and then given yourself a shake and smiled a huge smile at yourself. It works.

Yes the stormy day turned out to be lovely. The only really upset person was the dog. Thanks as always for your kind thoughts.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Janelle,

I think I'm a good influence for my students, and of course they are a great influence on me. As their happiness increases, so does mine. I love the phrase "knee deep in bliss."
I do feel blessed to be born here,
to have so much love in my life, and to love what I do. Thanks so much for your kind message.

Take care,


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Liza,

Thanks so much. I feel that I am lucky to be able to teach what I teach. Of course my kitchen like anyone else's can become an unholy mess. Dirty dishes, messes of paper on the table, three animals and their dishes and shed fur. But luckily it's a very easy room to clean up and it is also easy to dress up with some flowers and antique bowls filled with fresh fruit.

Thanks so much for your sweet thoughts.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Laura,

Welcome to my blog. Thanks so much for your kind message.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Laura,

I think that many of us have a tendency to be sulky. When I think back to my teenage years I think I lived under a perpetual cloud of gloom. It's odd but some of the harsher realities of being an adult, have made me appreciate all that is good. Your blog is a source of endless delight for me. Thanks so much.


Gary Keimig said...

Wow. You sure love color and it shows a real exubrance that you must have for life.
Great job.

A Brush with Color said...

What a lovely image, and I so completely agree with you about happiness. I have known a few people who just seem as if they're NEVER happy, and they've had no more or less in terms of life experiences than the next person to make them that way. I am a firm believer that we make our own happiness, and those of us who figure out how to just find happiness in life are so very fortunate. Great post!

Unknown said...

Hi Barbara, I love your work! It's so bold, confident, and vibrant. Of course a lot of that feeling comes from the rich colors. All I can say is wow!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Gary,

Thanks so much -- it seems that you love colour too, and have done some very beautiful paintings featuring intense colour.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Brush with colour,

Oh my your bird paintings are glorious. Yes I think you're right, if you can learn how to be happy, you are lucky indeed.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Deborah,

I'm interested in how many of us painted birds at tax time. I was wondering how to put birds into my current portrait and your lively self portrait answers that question. I don't think I'm up to birds in flight.
Good for you.


Portrait Artist

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at:
A major highlight in my career? Drawing Oprah Winfrey live via Skype for her show "Where in the Skype are you? Galleries: Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City. Gallery at the Porch Door, Kingston, Canada. Your positive comments on this blog mean the world to me. I'd love to hear from you!