|"Your Gift to the World" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.|
Do you ever find a book that grabs your attention, opens your mind, and shows you a larger perspective?
I am enjoying just these qualities in Johann Hari's "Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression - And the Unexpected Solutions. I'm pretty sure Edith Kramer would have enjoyed his thinking, as well. He takes into account our biology, our environment, and our evolution. He teases out the differences between extrinsic and intrinsic values, motivations, and rewards. These topics were all part of the discussion at Edith's table if you were lucky to be there when she was taking a tea break from her art making. As an artist she always enjoyed the bigger picture. Johann Hari's book definitely steps back to take in the bigger picture at modern western culture, looking at much of what makes us uncomfortable, depressed and anxious, today.
As you can gather from the title, the book is about connections, not just our connections with each other but connections to groups, to meaningful work, meaningful values, sympathetic joy, our past, and our sense of a possible future.
So how this might work for the Happy Artist's Life? Here are my versions of Hari's connection building ideas.
1. Develop connections with other artists, more creative fun with others. Create art making workshops in your community, opportunities to be with your "tribe."
2. Look for places where art can useful in the service of the greater good, where it can be a part of social justice or community building.
3. Find ways to bring art and creativity into your work life. This will ensure that you are attending to your intrinsic rewards while earning a living.
4. Do some art journaling around the topic of values. What does our culture teach us is most valuable? Spend some time on exploration of intrinsic values, what do we really hold dear? Can it be expressed in art?
5. Learn to take more and more pleasure in the pleasure people get from their own creative efforts. This is huge. A constant source of joy is all around us when we feel the joy of others.
6. Use your art journal to explore and resolve old stories from the past. Often we hang on to these stories as a way to keep ourselves safe, but in actuality we are hurting ourselves by hanging on to resentments. It is possible to release old stories, especially if you use metaphor and art.
7. Create art about a possible future. Step back from your current view of life and look at the bigger picture. Again, this is something that artists can play with fairly easily in their art journals.
Who knows, as we play in our art journals we may find new ways to build connections.