A Happy Place
Many years ago, when I first began teaching, my best friend Jill and I would relax by painting. The early days of teaching seemed particularly stressful, so Jill would set up a still life arrangement and we would spend a few hours together painting what was before us. I remember how the hours would pass effortlessly and the feeling of my deep absorption in the task. When my concentration broke and I became aware of my surroundings again, I felt as though fresh air had been blown through my head, clearing and refreshing my mind.
I didn’t know then, that I was in what is commonly understood now, as a state of ‘flow’. A leading researcher on positive psychology, Dr. Mihaly Chentmihalyi, studied this state of being and coined the term ‘flow’. In the 1960s, he began extensive research on what makes a human being truly happy. He found that money doesn’t make people happy and that things, personal possessions, luxuries, etc., also don’t play much part in how happy someone is. Dr. Chentmihalyi found that humans are at their happiest when in flow.
Maybe this explains why I have always enjoyed this feeling of deep absorption in a creative task. However, I know that over the years I haven’t made as much time for painting and drawing and other things I love as I might have done.
This year I made a decision that I was going to give myself more time to become engrossed in creative work. It was also fuelled by the connection that I was craving with ‘traditional’ crafts, a craving for connection with those who have gone before, making things with their hands, a combination of utility and beauty, a connection that William Morris (a personal hero of mine) sought himself and articulated so well during the Arts and Crafts Movement.
So part of my time is now devoted to stained glass making and willow basket making. I have found two wonderful teachers of these traditional crafts (a reminder of the pivotal role of good teachers) and I experience a state of ‘flow’, most times I enter the space of making.
I tend towards being a ‘happy’ person but this time definitely helps, oh and there’s also the satisfaction of having something beautiful, handcrafted and original at the end of the process too.
Here’s to finding your ‘happy place’.