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Happiness is not the goal…

If only I had noted the name of the artist for this piece. It was one of the ‘Artists! Get involved’ pieces at the Yoko Ono exhibition in Lyon. As lovely as the image is, it has nothing to do with what follows. It is rather sweet so thought I’d share it anyway.

The other Saturday whilst skimming the Guardian, I found a terrific little quote from a book that I thought was about parenting. 

“Our time with our kids is precious and fleeting. Instead of consuming it with overthinking and anxiety about terrible things that will probably never happen, we would be better off just loving them, talking to them, enjoying them and letting them know us for who we are.” 

This excerpt is from Ruth Whippman’s book The Pursuit of Happiness and Why It’s Making Us Anxious. Thinking I might as well purchase a parenting manual, I bought the book. But then found out it has not much to do with insights into parenting but is obviously more about this need to run after happiness like it’s the most important thing on earth.

It is an interesting read and for me, she’s preaching to a choir in which I find I’ve been a member for ages.  Basically, happiness isn’t found with millions of hours of introspection. Happiness happens when there are others involved. 

Years ago, someone told me, ‘Happiness is not a goal – it’s a by-product.’ It’s not the thing to chase. There are other things to focus on and if that other thing results in a happy feeling then good for you and whoever was involved.

The other week I was incredibly low. It was a long, tedious week that dragged and at the end of it I asked myself this very philosophical question: Why do I feel so shiiiiiiiiiiit?!

Upon reflection, it was down to the fact I had not spoken to anyone over the age of 2 1/2 for about a week. No meaningful conversations with friends and I hadn’t talked to any of my parents that weekend. Single parenting can be heart achingly isolating. And of course, it was a week of holiday from nursery, which meant I hadn’t been able to work much either.

It’s community. It’s friends. It’s real life connections that make life meaningful and apparently the by-product of connecting is a side dish of happy. 

Single parenting (Jesus, is she still going on about this?!) has its own special challenges and I have to admit, trying to feel connected to other people has been the most difficult task. Online anything isn’t a substitute. I tried online dating for an hour. Hated it. I had some interest but not what I was looking for. And hey guys ‘a photo of me at the pub with some beer’ isn’t a good selling point. There is also Twitter and Instagram to while away the hours, but if anything, it just makes me feel more disconnected.

So. There is no plan to be happy, as I feel in general, when life is terrifically balanced, I’m a contented soul. There is a plan to stay connected to friends and make more of an effort to shed a hermit lifestyle. My calendar is looking active again and I’m anticipating catching up with interesting, wonderful and caring people. I’ve even booked myself in to see a Steinbeck theatre production.

It all starts tomorrow night with a toddler picnic at a friend’s house. After 5pm! What does outside look like after 5pm?!


I am an artist living and working in a rather gorgeous city. My art can be purchased in various shops throughout the city as well as from my online shop. Most of my work is for commission, private and corporate. I am the founder of Crash Course in Art History Limited.

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