What is our source of happy?
According to Sigmund Freud the ability to love and work is deeply connected to one's degree of happiness and satisfaction with life.
I’m not talking about a “feel good” satisfaction that is subjective and fluctuates, but the gift of inner peace that shapes your life. There are many books and websites that help point you to the goal of happiness. I have read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, How to Magnetizing Your Hearts Desire by Sharon A. Warren and The Path of Least Resistance by Robert Fritz. I have browsed mundane sites that give you a check list path of quick fixes to get there. But, solutions like faking a smile and playing with puppies is minutia information.
From an artist standpoint, Taking the Lead: Lessons from a Life in Motion by Derek Hough is a refreshing positive approach to life that is a breath of fresh air in a world of negativity and the false bravado of the performing arts. I cannot think of any other profession that shapes participants through criticism, scoring and reviews more than the performing arts, especially for starving artists. We live in a world “where the show must go on” regardless of our personal state of mind. And amazingly, those learn to “fake it for the camera” and eventually reach the level of fame and fortune usually succumb to personal failure. It is possible we begin to believe external validation as truth.
Applause is a wonderful validation of performance. So are the monetary rewards from years of focus, persistence, perseverance, determination, passion, hardcore work ethic and discipline. But these are external momentary fulfillment like petting puppies.
Van Gogh reportedly only sold one painting out of approximately 900 during his lifetime, Red Vineyard at Arles (oil on burlap) which now resides at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. Van Gough began to paint some of the best loved works of his career in the unusually harsh conditions and confinement in the Hôtel-Dieu hospital in Arles. Studying his life’s work is transparent. In the drawing Sitting on a Basket, Van Gough masterfully depicts quiet domesticity, as well as an underlying sense of despair. These feelings truly defined Van Gogh's state of mind at the time. Within his lifetime his greatest works were created during turmoil in his life. The Potato Eaters, (large oil on canvas) acknowledged to be Van Gogh's first true masterpiece received criticism at the time but he was pleased with the result and thus began a new, more confident and technically accomplished phase of his career.
Beethoven wrote nine mostly unnamed symphonies in his lifetime bridging the Classical and Romantic periods of the 18th and 19th century. When his works were first performed nearly 200 years ago critics of the time generally panned Beethoven’s symphonies rather harshly. Today, critics’ reviews are that Beethoven was great even in his mistakes. And even through his deafness he excelled beyond criticism to compose his last symphony, amazingly enough commonly referred to as Ode to Joy.
Russian-American ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov drew inspiration and an experimental spirit from a turbulent relationship with his father, his mother’s suicide and defection from the Soviet Union to choreograph several iconic pieces. Considered to be hindered by his 5' 7"-inch frame (too short to be taken as a serious dancer) he is considered as one the greatest most perfect (New York Times critic) ballet dancers of the 20th century. Baryshnikov is quoted in Misha!: The Mikhail Baryshnikov Story by Barbara Aria as saying he is “happy to be happy”.
I have to wonder…. Are we really happy to be happy or does the artist truly seek happiness in the ability to make others happy? Where do you draw your inspiration?