Monday, September 19, 2005

First Happiness Challenge

The Artist's Happiness Challenge is an e-course consisting of six artistic challenges (lessons) based on the current research being done in the field of positive psychology. I am posting lessons here.

Here's the first Happiness Challenge:

Andrea Scher of paraphrased something she had seen at an art show of Creativity Explored in San Francisco that described Utopia as "a place where everyone has to look for things. And then they find them."

The happiness challenges will be just this kind of Utopia, we will be looking for things, and then we find them!

The first challenge is "The three good things challenge" base on Martin E.P. Seligman's research at the University of Pennsylvania with what he calls The Three Blessings (trademark, copyright). Seligman found that when his subjects wrote down three good things that happened to them each day for a week, there was an increase in reported happiness and decreases in depression and anxious thoughts. He retested his subjects and found that they were maintaining their observations of good things, and were also continuing to maintain their increasingly positive outlook.

Turning this into an art challenge was quite easy. During my morning art journaling, meditative time, I would incorporate 3 good things into my art work, sometimes drawing objects that would represent the things I chose and sometimes imbedding words into the drawing. I started to look for "good things" during the day, collecting things in my mind, a very enjoyable way to go through the day, I must confess. There are endorphins at play with this challenge, for sure.

A good example of this idea can be seen on Cynthia Korzekwa's website "CARDBOARD RETABLOS." She creates simple everyday art of things she's thankful for, easy things to be thankful for, like an umbrella when it rains or the smell of coffee, or the wag of a dog's tail. She uses basic materials, paint, cardboard, and simple thoughts.

So that's your challenge. Create a work of art that has three things imbedded in (or three works with one thing each) for which you are glad. If you do this every day for a week, I guarantee you will start to notice some shifts. Also, I'll be sending out a new challenge on Thursday. You can respond to that challenge, AND work your three good things into your response.

We all know that what I may have in mind, or the way I might solve this problem will be different from the way you might solve it. That's kind of a wonderful thing, especially if we are willing to look at how we solved things and learn from each other.

Any questions?


Gretchen Little said...

This is really inspring. I think this is what I was doing when I started heArt-a-day and didn't know it and therefore I kind of lost my focus. Now I can get it back again. Thanks!

The Islander said...

Thank you so much for your words...I do like to go through the day thinking of those simple things around me that are definitely a blessing. Since I am doing a photo project on the 365project I am constantly looking for an interesting photo op. So the day goes by quickly for me. I started an art journal this year doing book reviews in it and so the requires reading good books that beg to be reviewed with my scribbles. All in all I have to thank you for the wonderful inspiration.