Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The idea of choice

My painting Water Image #1 is on the International Guild of
Figurative Art Invitation that I received today.  It's the
painting in the lower right hand corner. 

I listened to the 1000 Awesome Things guy, Neil Pasricha,
today on TED TV.  Neil started working at noticing
what is good about life after his wife left him and his
best friend died.  He began noticing the simplest
little things that were good. 

I've been hitting the TED site a lot because I'm painting
and listening to the speakers helps me to stay in the studio.
When I get engrossed in one of these talks I forget to wander
out to the kitchen, for a cookie, or a coffee, until the talk is
over, and as most of them are about 20 minutes long
that's perfect.

Neil Pasricha was interviewed in the Globe and Mail,
Canada's leading newspaper last year. I looked up his
blog and wrote to him.  He wrote me back the nicest
email letter, and ended by telling me that I was awesome.

I am very interested in the power of positive thought
on the brain, and subsequently on our organs, our
sleep, our recovery from disease, and especially
our creativity.  A friend was telling me tonight that
one of the credos of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)
is that an alcoholic can't "afford" to stay angry.  I like
that thought.  He said that this was a powerful idea,
and especially powerful for men who tend to view
life in terms of costs. (Whether that's a true observation
or not is not for me, a woman, to say.)

What struck me though in both the 1000 awesome
things talk, and my friend's discussion is the concept of
choice -- that even when bad, perhaps terrible things
happen, we have the power to choose to believe in hope.
That doesn't mean we don't have to work to change
what's wrong with our world, and the world in general,
it means we can choose to try not to despair, to imagine
an end to sorrow.

All of us have reasons to feel grief -- many of my
friends both in the blog world, and my immediate world
are going through hard times.  Our creativity needs to
gentle us towards hope.

This subject matters to me because I teach a psychology
course that works on helping people succeed in school.
Belief and hope are key to changing our lives, and the
lives around us in dramatic and important ways.  I know
that these ideas are transformative because I've watched
at least 1,000 people change, emerge, smile, grow,
grab their goals, turn the ship around.  Just that thought
is enough to convince me tonight thinking about them,
and thinking about you out there, that the world is truly awesome.

Have an enjoying-the-small-hopeful-and-awesome-things day.


Pam Holnback said...

Congratulations on being chosen for the invitation!

cohen labelle said...

Congratulations Barbara! Awesome!!!
I thought today might be a snow day for you because of the snow - but as they say the show goes on.

love, Marcia

Nicki said...

Hi Barbara,

I've been away and have taken this morning to sip tea and catch up on my favorite blogs.

This post immediately hit me with it's message... and I just received "The Book of Awesome" for Christmas! I agree that often we don't realize it, but happiness and a positive outlook are a choice. Thanks for this reminder and Mr. Pasricha was right... you are awesome!

On New Year's Day I posted this quote and it is fitting here... "We are about as happy as we make up our minds to be." - Abraham Lincoln

Congrats on the spot on the invitation. It looks fabulously awesome! ;o)

Nicki XO

Linda Popple said...

Congratulations! That's wonderful!

I look forward to listening to Neil Pasricha. I agree that we can't control events, but how we react is in our control. Sounds so simple, but it takes some work. It is well worth it!! Thank you!

Melinda said...

Your work looks spectacular in this invitation. I hope lots of collectors show up and you have a great show.

Important words, Barbara. It's okay to mourn or to be sad for awhile when appropriate, but it's even better when we can notice that the birds are singing, the sun is shining and people all around us have kind things to say.

Great post.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks so much. I am excited. This is going to be a beautiful show.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Marcia,

The show does go on. Seneca doesn't ever close before 1 p.m., so the show must go on there too.

It is awesome eh?

Love Barbara

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Nicki,

I can't say that I never despair. But I am so lucky to be teaching people how to be happy, because it means I have to research how that works. Here's a surprise. Just saying the word happy over and over inside your head, makes you smile. The moment you smile -- you're happy.
Funny and true. And a super trick in hard times.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Linda,

You're right. It does take some work. It's hard to switch from sorrow to hope, but it is worth the effort. Hope doesn't erase sorrow, but it is a balm that heals.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

I often feel it's forced to "celebrate a life" after a loss. But when you think about what that person would want, there is every possibility that a loving soul wants you to enjoy the birds, and the sunshine because you can. In a way it's how we honour the planet.

As always I love what you say.


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!