Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The happiness conundrum



Field poppies. My all time favorite flower in a jumble of weeds.
(I am fighting off a cold/flu -- not H1N1 today and
only got out of bed to get Cold FX and write
the blog -- more painting tomorrow when I'll feel
much better no doubt. My apologies.)

I teach a course that tries to help students figure out
who they are, and what they want out of life. Naturally
our primary goal is helping students to improve
their marks -- the program succeeds on that front.
But we also want them to learn how to be happy.
This is not a mindless, smiley face, emoticon
happiness, but the rich vein of choices that inspires
a life with joy at its core.

There's a lot of discussion about the folly of pursuing
happiness now, but I continue to be on the side
of up. Positive thinking. Trying to stay sane and
to enjoy life. Some people suggest that this point
of view imposes cheer on the cheerless -- walks into
a room of deservedly sad people and asks for
smiles. Maybe I am doing that at school, but I
don't think so.

My thinking is that finding out what makes you happy,
and doing it with all of your brain power, talent and
energy leads to a deep sense of satisfaction, and I
want every kid I teach to have that option. Sometimes
that may mean giving up the sadness that lurks in
the cracks in the sidewalk, that comes to us from
frightening events all over the world, that is just
one side of the facts of our existence here. We can't
all be happy, we can't always be happy, but we
can try to figure out what makes us enjoy life, and
spread that enthusiasm. It's like a hymn I used to have to sing at
Sunday school. Forgive me because I am no longer
following a religion, but the hymn was about light,
something I've always enjoyed, and the message
was something to do with the positive effect we can
have -- as painters I think this is especially true --
"you in your small corner, and I in mine."

As a side note, Beyond The Fringe, a British
Comedy Group my parents loved, did a very
funny bit about a minister and a banal sermon
that rambled on and... If you want to hear the
routine, hit the link. (Spoiler alert. This bit
is sound only with still photos -- there was
a time before video -- shocking as that may be!)

Have a finding-your-own-route-to-happiness day

8 comments:

Chris said...

Your students are very lucky to have you as a teacher. I always look forward to reading your blog and seeing your beautiful art. You are doing an outstanding job of passing on your joy. Thank you.

Liza Hirst said...

I totally agree with Chris!
In a way it's easier to enscone (?) oneself in a down feeling when times are difficult than to make an effort to overcome it. But that's so much better in the long run! I absolutely believe you are doing the right thing, Barbara!

Liza Hirst said...

Oh, forgot to say how sorry I am for you that you caught a cold just when you have one week of holiday! Hope you get better very soon!
Love, Liza

LeSan said...

I do hope you are feeling better soon. Kudos to your dedication to this blog. I don't know that I could have strung a sentance together let alone an entire post of them.
Miss Barbara, go forth and spread Happy! Seriously, this world does need to look for the other side of things. Most of the time it's pretty darn hard to find something good but one little drop at a time starts to add up. I truly appreciate your efforts to make the world a brighter place. I know my bucket is a little fuller for having your drops of happy in it.

Barbara M. said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks so much. I'm so glad you like the blog.

Take care,

Barbara

Barbara M. said...

Hi Liza,

You certainly lift my spirits, and looking at your work always inspires me. Plus your landscapes and townscapes make me long to visit France. Must figure that one out some day.

xoxoxoxoxoBarbara

Barbara M. said...

Hi Liza,

The cold was almost completely eliminated by the magic of Cold FX. Only an edge of it remains. I thought of you yesterday and settled down to paint.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoBarbara

Barbara M. said...

Oh LeSan,

Your wonderful writing always makes me happy. You are both funny and serious, satirical and moved by the beauty around you. You definitely do your part in raising the joy bar in the world. I actually feel that most of what happens is wonderful where I live. Sadness comes, hard times, but the overwhelming feeling most of the time is joy. I guess I have my very resilient mother to thank for that.

Take care,

Barbara

Portrait Artist

My photo
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: barbara.muir@sympatico.ca
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!