When I paint, I am happy. Life is good. My wife especially likes having me around after a good round of painting. This works to create a good cycle: I love to paint > she likes me happy and wants me to do what I love > I love her all the more for encouraging me to do what I love to do (happiness).
I recall Eric Liddel’s statement from the movie Chariots of Fire: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” I love the simplicity of that statement. You don’t often hear the words “God” and “pleasure” uttered in the same context, but Lidell’s summation that we were created to do something, many things, and to discover and know the pleasure of doing them. Now that is something worth pursuing.
I know I feel pleasure when I am creating. It’s an exhilarating experience, really. The whole process- of seeing, observing, analyzing, organizing the thoughts, articulating them in order to express, recording that response via paint upon a canvas, then analyzing the size, shape, color, and value of the stroke I just placed in how it relates to what I am seeing both with my eyes and my mind- it is a wonderful thing. Almost intoxicating!
Scientifically, then (and I am nowhere near being a scientist), could we sum this process up as an equation:
c = h (Creating = Happiness)
Is this only for the fortunate few, or can this work for anyone and everyone? Though this equation is second nature to me as long as I can remember. I’d like to know if it works for those who don’t consider themselves the creative type.
Dr. Carrie Barron, co-author of “The Creativity Cure: How to Build Happiness with Your Own Two Hands,” says creativity is more than what happens in an art studio. Creativity applies to everything from making a meal to generating a business plan. “The need to create – to produce something using our minds and hands – is fundamental. It connects us to our inner selves and to our environment and offers the deep satisfaction of accomplishment.”
Psychoanalyst and pediatrician D.W. Winnicott said, “It is creative more than anything else that makes life worth living.” Whether is what we make or what we make happen, engagement is the essence of a good life.”
It looks like our c = h equation may be scientific after all. Then again, we’re not just talking about dry facts. We’re talking about doing, exploring, venturing out into the unknown.
This discussion no doubt can spawn a host of ideas and conversation. For now, I’ll close with wisdom from a great scientist, Albert Einstein: “I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking alone.”
I look forward to sharing more insights about the creative process and its connection to happiness. My mind is already whirring in excitement!