I recently read Shawn Achor's "The Happiness Advantage." It was recommended in my Operational Behavior in Healthcare graduate course. I read it cynically expecting it to be all fluff while hoping it wasn't. I was very "happy" to find there was a lot of substance to it. It focuses generally on work success, but Achor's "principles" can be applied to life in general. Having tried one of Shawn Achor's recommendations for several months now, I can actually say that the book has helped me start to form a new habit. His details of numerous studies to back up his recommendations in his book helped to convince me that the book wasn't all fluff. (Not that I don't like a good dose of fluff once and a while...)
Achor discusses forming new habits in his "Principle #6: The 20-Second Rule" chapter. He resonated with me when he says "The reason willpower is so ineffective at sustaining change is that the more we use it, the more worn-out it gets
(Shawn Achor's "The Happiness Advantage," page 152)."
I am someone who has tried to change my habits through will-power and has failed almost instantly. His solution is to make changing your habit as easy as possible. I wanted to have more art in my life again. My interpretation of how to do this was to make it as easy as possible to draw something each day. I didn't have to draw anything specific and it didn't have to be good. My initial goal was to draw just three lines each day. I attached a black drawing pen to by small sketchbook and left it in the bag I take to work with me.
I made it about as easy as I could to draw. I wouldn't have to find something to draw on because it was always in my bag. I wouldn't have to go digging for a pen because it was always attached to the sketchbook.
I haven't drawn every day. I definitely lost the habit some over vacation. I have done tons more drawing than I would have if I had not made it easy for myself. I have even expanded beyond just three lines with a black pen. I have been drawing with markers and colored pencils after work or at other random times. Tyler has joined in with me at times. The third drawing here has his contribution with the squiggly black lines that overlay the leafy almond shape drawing.
This drawing on the left, I like to refer to as Tyler's totem pole. He was having fun drawing eyes and mouths. I wonder if he was remembering Mom's photo of a totem pole in Alaska. He likes using markers or "mah-mers" in toddler-speak.
I've now moved my tiny watercolor paint set and watercolor cards to a super-easy to access location in the living area of our apartment. I'm planning ways to make it easier to access other art supplies, too. Keeping scissors, pins, needles, tiny beads, and what not out of reach of a toddler adds an extra challenge to the planning. I think I've figured out a workable solution. There are some drawers in the front closet that are going to get repurposed.
How can you make it easier to form a new "happiness" habit?
Mother & daughter, Ann Lee & Sonja Lee-Austin share their joys and struggles in their art and lives.