Living in Happiness, the Mind of an Artist


Wouldn’t it be nice to be happy all the time?

I don’t think so and I will tell you why.

Our past and future are surely not always better than the present. Yet we continue to believe they might be. In a recent post I talked about how things in the present are not always as they seem. We compare past to present and not always with a discerning eye. Why do we think past or future events better? Are we happy enough? Do things in the present make you dissatisfied?


I think it might be in our make-up to be dissatisfied a lot of the time. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. I think it is more common with creative people too. Being perpetually happy all the time would stand in the way of us getting anything done.

Creatives get stuff done, but may be a bit cranky or dissatisfied during the process. Ofttimes, this dissatisfaction leads to innovation and discovery. It is the driving need to do better.


I follow a cartoonist, Matthew Inman from The Oatmeal, and he has a post called How to be Perfectly Unhappy. It kinda explains his views on unhappiness.

While my view of happiness is different, I feel people who promote happiness, self-improvement, and self-help like it is a religion or something often have a back-story of depression, abuse and a host of other bad things in life. They think they can help and change other people just by telling them happiness is a choice. Sure you can put on a happy face, but does it have authenticity?


You can’t pretend to be truly happy nor can you tell others how to be happy. And you just can’t choose to be happy on cue. You have to feel it in your very being. It is a mental or emotional state, not a switch you click on and off.

Happiness is difficult to find because of what our perception of it really is. Yet these “happiness gurus” will give you ten ways to be cookie cutter happy. Eternal bliss – a myth.


Coleomegilla maculata

Creative people share what they see with the rest of the world. Sometimes what is shared is borne from periods of strife or despair.

To someone who regularly creates, the world has deeper meaning, increased interest, frustrating complexity and unlimited possibility, more than what it might for other folks. The world is shinier and intriguing with all the small intricacies around them.


Coleomegilla maculata

The Downside of Being Happy in the Washington Post was an interesting article with a number of good examples of artistic genius. Oddly science still has not really determined if happiness affects creativity or if creativity is enhanced by melancholy. Science has yet to agreed on whether sadness leads to creative excellence, but one researcher did conclude causally that creative genius is attributable to negative moods and sadness.

I find if happy, I am content and not in an especially creative mood. Too happy to care I guess. I do admit, photography does make me happy, but it might just be the fact I am out in nature. I don’t find being unhappy as a source of inspiration either. If unhappy, I really have no interest in artistic endeavors like painting. I suppose, I could not acquire creative genius if the research is correct.


A happy photo.

When at my most creative, I am not thinking of anything in particular at all, not happy or sad. My mind wanders, and the idea just appears out of nowhere. I do find being dissatisfied is a trait I possess and it does kick-start me into doing a job much better. It is a way to be at my creative best. It is not dissatisfaction with the beauty surrounding me, but rather dissatisfaction with not being able to capture it at that level. Dissatisfaction is a force pushing for perfection. Unobtainable, but always a quest.


Something happy about a lady beetle.

I can say one thing that instantly changes my mood though – is standing up tall. Immediately I feel better about myself and feel like smiling. I feel like anything is possible. Maybe all there is to being happy is good posture!

Everyone’s journey though life is different and how they perceive the world around them is unique unto them. Being happy, well that all depends… on how YOU see it. You don’t need a happiness prophet telling you how to feel. Paint (in the next post) or photograph, neither happy or unhappy. Just a little dissatisfied and standing tall.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
This entry was posted in Art, creativity, garden, Nature, photography, photos and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Living in Happiness, the Mind of an Artist

  1. Alesia says:

    Did your research indicate that there could be a genetic link when it comes to happiness ? Interesting post. I do find a lot of deep satisfaction when I am outdoors getting my Vitamin D!

    • No, I did not look into genetics. People with depression may likely have a genetic link. I doubt it would translate with happiness, since happiness is not something people experience all the time, where depression is more pervasive on a regular basis without medical or psychological assistance. Who knows?

  2. I think feeling happy is something many people have to work at, but it’s worth the effort.

  3. David says:

    Wonderful post both prose and photos.

  4. Interesting ideas that you shared here. Like you, when I’m happy I don’t feel the need to be creative, but sometimes I find the weather (like the sun) motivates me to get up and do something creative – some type of artwork.

  5. Paula Simon says:

    This a perfect meditation for me today – good antidote for Mercury in Retrograde. Thanks Donna!

  6. Kevin says:

    Interesting post. It had me thinking, which I have a feeling was your intent, of my own life — good times and bad. I tend to appreciate the struggles in my life because they have all added up to who I am today. They have helped to move me forward and to grow and to feel. They also tend to make me celebrate and appreciate even more the good times. By the way, your photos make me happy. Just saying.

    • I am glad to hear that, I have a post coming that talks about “being trivial” in blogging. I prefer reading and writing posts that make one draw their own conclusions, or add to what I have written, both in agreement or challenging. Very good point on how struggles make a person who they are and appreciate the best of times. The blog, The Oatmeal, really makes one think sometimes. Another I follow is Scott Adams’ Blog, also a cartoonist. Both blogs have writers that are controversial and very blunt. I suppose I like people who tell it like it is, no matter the ramifications. I may not agree with them, but both are very intelligent and intellectual in their writings.

  7. swo8 says:

    Donna, I couldn’t agree with you more. Lovely photos to go with your thoughts.

  8. debsgarden says:

    Great thoughts, and marvelous photos! I agree that neither happiness nor unhappiness are particularly stimulating for creativity. I definitely do not feel creative when unhappy. My thoughts are that happiness is fleeting, based on circumstances. Joy, however; that is something else! Joy is that deep, abiding contentment and confidence that sees us through, no matter the circumstances. I think many great masterpieces were created with joy.

    • Thank you, Deb. I agree about joy. I suppose one could name authors who write in a joyous manner, but I bet equally there are those that write from the deep depths of sorrow too. I hate to write when I am feeling low, especially with all the health problems I have had this last two years. It really has slowed me down in blogging. I need a couple of operations (shoulder and hip) that I have been putting off because recovery time will last for many months. I hate being laid up, so I put up with the pain instead. After my heart operation, I finally can get back out in nature with no restrictions like I had in 2015. That is wonderful and makes travel more delightful which brings me great joy. I just have to be careful with the hip and shoulder.

      • debsgarden says:

        So sorry to hear about your hip and shoulder problems! I understand more than you know. I have had heart surgery and still have a leaky valve. I also have an artificial hip, and now I have shoulder problems! Growing older is not fun! Good for you for continuing to appreciate life to its fullest!

        • My are we a pair! I do think the shoulder and hip has much to do with digging in the garden late in life. Probably sports I did when younger weakened the joints, but doing hard labor in the gardens finished them off.

  9. Karen says:

    I know some perpetually happy, perky people and though this will speak volumes about me I suppose, I find their giddiness to be very tiring. Surely, I think, no one can be that happy ALL the time? Or is it just me?

    I know I have much to learn from the Happy People. Thank you for this post, Donna.

    • Me TOO! While I really don’t have friends like that, people who are always perky and annoyingly laughing all the time seem a bit phony to me. Nobody has such a perfect life. Who would want that anyway? We learn from our failings and that can lead to wonderful outcomes. It is why those happiness gurus bug me. They ring with phoniness, especially those that harp on happiness like only a special few can acquire it, (by following their special advice of course).

  10. Love yourphotos…I am trying with all my effort to learn to live just in the moment, with no past, and no future. I am trying to learn to enjoy the sunshine in this very moment for how it makes me feel and how beautiful it is.

  11. WillowLuna says:

    Thankyou for your post. Your images are so beautiful, and your passages thought provoking in a lovely gently way.
    Me, I think there are lots of different kinds of happiness.
    Happiness for me includes, but is not limited to…
    Being able to accept what isn’t mine to change.
    Feeling empowered to assert myself when necessary.
    Having the capacity to fight for the ones I love.
    Basically a lack of suffering.
    Solitude amongst nature. Watching, breathing, feeling at one with it all.
    Being creative makes my heart soar, but I’m not always being creative because I’m happy. For me the relationship between happiness and creativity is the process of letting myself go. I believe the term is ‘flow’. Shadows on my horizon can be expelled in a furious flurry of line and colour. It is wonderful avenue to promote healing.
    Lastly, my children and my animals. This is deep love happiness.

  12. WillowLuna says:

    Sorry about the typos above-clearly I am not meant for a career in editing.
    Three more things…
    Feeling gratitude for the million things in my life that I could easily take for granted.
    The contrast in being well as opposed to sick (I have bipolar). Just the knowing that I survived myself is lifting and empowering.
    Being part of a caring community.

Comments are closed.