Tag Archives: art

A Little Happier: We Don’t Always Know When Children Are Wasting Their Time.

As a parent, it’s very tempting to try to prod our children into useful or enriching activities: play chess, practice piano, play tennis.

But sometimes children want to do things that might look like a big waste of time—and when my children are doing that, I remind myself of the many examples I’ve heard of, where what looked like “wasted time” to an adult ended up being very useful to that child, later in life.

Because of my current obsession with color, I was reading a book called How to Decorate put out by Farrow & Ball, a well-known maker of paints and wallpapers.

This passage I read is from Joa Studholme, who is part of Farrow & Ball’s creative team.

“I had no formal training. I am Farrow & Ball homegrown, nurtured by an astonishing group of people. However, as a child, I did spend an inordinate amount of time rearranging my set of Caran d’Ache crayons to see how different colour combinations worked. My dolls’ house was constantly redecorated and I was always experimenting with colour, painting my ceiling bright yellow to try to fill the room with sunlight or creating cosy spaces in cupboards by painting them dark.”

As a child, did you do something that adults dismissed as “a waste of time” that proved to be no waste? Or have you seen that phenomenon in children you know?

 

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 Happier listening!

Announcing My New Happiness Project Coloring Book! Do You Love to Color?

As I may have mentioned once or twice, I’ve become obsessed with the subject of color — and I’m also a big fan of coloring.

So I was thrilled to get the chance to design my own coloring book, which goes on sale today: The Happiness Project Mini Posters: A Coloring Book of 20 Hand-Lettered Quotes to Pull Out and Frame.

Click here to get a peek inside the pages and learn about a special giveaway from my publisher. (Winner will be chosen April 4.)

I had so much fun working with the artist on the design for the pages, and choosing the quotations to include.

I’m not the only grown-up who still enjoys coloring — more and more adults are returning to the coloring books they loved as children. Great idea! Coloring boosts happiness for many reasons.

Coloring is calming, even meditative. The activity of coloring helps to focus the mind and rest the body in a constructive, creative way. In my coloring book, I hope that the quotations, too, will inspire quiet reflection.

Coloring is very satisfying, because there’s a special pleasure in doing things with our hands. Very often these days, we’re sitting behind screens and living in our heads. Like activities such as knitting or tying flies or walking, coloring allows us to connect with the physical world, in the present moment. And there’s something about the repetitive, wordless nature of the work that boosts creativity and energy.

Coloring is a great activity to do with other people. Research shows that a secret—probably the secret—to happiness is strong connections with other people. Coloring is fun to do with other people. It’s companionable, and allows for conversation, and at the same time, gives a sense of shared purpose.

With my sister Elizabeth Craft, I host a podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. Many people have written to tell me that they like to color as they listen to the latest episode—the two activities are highly compatible.

On a less lofty note, coloring helps to curb snacking! Coloring keeps hands busy, which diminishes the urge to snack; plus, after carefully working on a beautiful design, who wants to risk getting a grease stain or smudge on the page?

Finally, one of my own favorite things about coloring is that It gives me a reason to buy and use beautiful supplies—gorgeous colored markers and pens, as well as lovely books of designs and paper. Well-made tools make work a joy. And I love to feast my eyes on beautiful, brilliant colors.

Do you love to color? If so, I hope the The Happiness Project Mini Posters makes you happier.

Want to View the World with Fresh Eyes? 13 Tips to See More Clearly.

I’ve recently developed an obsession with color — what a gorgeous, fascinating topic! It makes me so happy to learn about color.

One reason I love studying color is that it helps me notice the world. I tend to walk around very absent-mindedly; I hardly see anything around me. For me to be present in the moment, and to connect with the world, I need a hook.

Looking at colors is one great hook, and there are many others, too:

  1. Notice colors — I push myself to notice the color of the sky; the contrast between the orange cone and the gray sidewalk.
  2. Look in a mirror — things look different in a mirror.
  3. Look at a picture of an object. Jamaica Kincaid wrote “Why is a picture of something real eventually more exciting than the thing itself?” A question that haunts me. Related…
  4. Look at an object alongside a picture of it. I heard about this strategy as a way of appreciating art more. Buy a postcard of an artwork, then study the artwork while you hold up the postcard. I’m dying to try this.
  5. Pretend to be a journalist — journalists notice things in a different way. Similarly…
  6. Pretend to be a tourist. Look at the shop windows! How people line up for the bus! What are people wearing?
  7. Draw — this one doesn’t appeal to me, but many people swear by it.
  8. Go someplace new — I’ve lived in my New York City neighborhood for more than a decade, and still I sometimes stumble onto a street I swear I’ve never walked before.
  9. Return to a familiar place after a long time away — go back to your old school; stop into the grocery store where you shopped when you lived in your old house. Fascinating.
  10. Imagine that you have guests coming to stay for the weekend — a great way to see your home in a new way. Along the same lines…
  11. Imagine that you will sell your house — you see it through the eyes of a judgmental stranger
  12. Notice contrasts, when two worlds are juxtaposed –school-children on a sidewalk in front of a business;  a horse-and-buggy clopping down the highway
  13. Look with a child — it’s such a sentimental cliche to say it, but children really do see the world with fresh eyes.

What hooks do you use to help yourself see the world more vividly?

Do You Feel that You’re Growing in Mastery as You Grow Older?

“From the age of six, I had a passion for copying the form of things and since the age of fifty I have published many drawings, yet of all I drew by my seventieth year there is nothing worth taking in to account. At seventy-three years I partly understood the structure of animals, birds, insects and fishes, and the life of grasses and plants. And so, at eighty-six I shall progress further; at ninety I shall even further penetrate their secret meaning, and by one hundred I shall perhaps truly have reached the level of the marvelous and divine. When I am one hundred and ten, each dot, each line will possess a life of its own.”

–Katsushika Hokusai

I love this description of continuous growth and increasing mastery. Do you feel that in some aspect of your life, you’re doing a better job with time?

For happiness, an “atmosphere of growth” is crucial — of the Eight Splendid Truths, that’s part of #1.

How Do We See the Living Soul of the World? Through Color.

“Light, that first phenomenon of the world, reveals to us the spirit and living soul of the world through colors.”

–Johannes Itten, The Elements of Color

My color obsession continues! What a beautiful, fascinating subject. I just finished a book about green–that’s right, a whole book about green. I recently finished a book about black. Next up, blue.

Do you have a signature color? I was vexed by my inability to commit, but I’ve realized that the color wheel is my signature colorscape.