Trying to make sense of life and to learn living it happily.

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Monday, July 11, 2016

How Learning to Be Happy Is Like Learning How to Draw

My dad is very talented in drawing and painting. When I was little, he tried to teach the basics of drawing to me. But I could never draw as nice as he, and my likeness on the paper was never as good as his. I got frustrated pretty quickly. I never regarded myself as artistically inclined, and I was better at other things, so I switched my attention to them.

Years passed. Since then I only took a pencil if my kids asked me to draw a little bird or a house for them. Both my daughters take drawing classes, and we’ve got a drawing set for them – pencils, pastels, watercolors, brushes, and drawing paper.

Come summer, the set still sits pretty much untouched. Last week I decided that I want to give drawing another try, since I already have all the supplies. I went to my local library and checked out a book on basic drawing.

Here is how the author Sarah Parks introduces it:
It’s a common misconception that you have to be born with artistic talent or that only creative people can draw or paint. But in fact, drawing is a discipline just like any other, requiring learning skills and practicing techniques. And your keen desire to draw gives you the aptitude you need to study those skills and diligently practice the techniques I’m going to teach you. When you’ve practiced them consistently, you’ll really start to feel pride in your ability to draw. Suddenly, people will say, “I didn’t know you were so talented!”[i]

It is amazing that exactly the same principle applies to happiness skills! Even though each of us is born with a varied amount of “talent” for feeling happy in different circumstances, there are different happiness skills and techniques. When we learn about them and practice them, we improve our own abilities and become able to feel better.

I’ve read the first chapters carefully, learning about shapes, shadows and block-in techniques. First I drew a sphere, then a cube. And then I tried to draw from the photographs of pears and an iris from the book. And here is what I drew:

It’s not an exact likeness, but now I have more patience, and I really like to be able to draw nicely. And most importantly, now I know that even if I am not going to be a museum-worthy artist, I can definitely improve my drawing by learning some tips and practicing.

Very similarly, we can all learn tips, practice, and improve our lives by becoming happier!

I describe happiness skills and techniques in my book Happiness the Jewish Way: A Practical Guide to Happiness Through the Lens of Jewish Wisdom

[i] Drawing Secrets Revealed: Basics by Sarah Parks


  1. Wow! Never thought of it like that. As I started learning to draw midlife, I can apply those ideas to becoming a happier person. Thanks! YS

    1. It is kind of amazing that we believe drawing or happiness can be "done" nicely only by the people who are born with a talent, but in fact, they can be learned and mastered through practice! That's great!

  2. Hi Olga!! It's Gaby. Love what you wrote. So true. Many times we stunt our growth by saying we can't or things are just not meant to be. Once we decide & give it a chance...doors open wide & the sweet taste of " Oh yes I can!! " comes alive!! It's a ripple effect!! We definitely can chioose to be happy!! We only need to take a small step!! Tysm!! Btw... You're drawings were pretty awesome!! Keep it up!!!❤

    1. Thank you Gaby! You are right - great changes start with small steps. And I am learning now that a difference between a nice drawing a a really great one is in small details - the shading, the comparative perspective, and such. My goal is to learn to draw portraits :)