This article is by Carolyn Henderson, the managing half of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She is a Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews and her freelance writing appears in regional newspapers, online magazines, and her humor blog, Middle-Aged Plague.
Several weeks ago, in a comment thread to Making a Million Is EZ! EZ! EZ!, Sandy Askey-Adams recalled watching a television minister speak to a rapt -- but curiously unsmiling -- crowd about the importance of thinking, and acting, positively. No doubt the minister was happy because, as Sandy observed, he was receiving monetary compensation for each warmed seat, but far be it from Sandy or me to think such uncharitable thoughts.
At the end of Sandy's comment, she concluded:
"Have not become a millionaire through my art. Whoops, that is negative. Change that to ... I will become one thru my art. :) :) SMILES. "
And there-in, this direct-speaking, no nonsense, businesswoman artist with a sense of humor nails it, tongue in cheek:
Positive thoughts are good: no doubt they set in motion endorphins or Indie dolphins or whatever those chemicals in the brain are called (did you know that I am the child of a scientist, a world-class microbiologist researcher? Doesn't it show?).
Happy thoughts, and a good attitude, are just that: they make you more pleasant to be around; they make living with yourself, and your circumstances, easier; they reduce your stress level and no doubt set in motion a series of chemical reactions in your brain, but, in and of themselves, happy thoughts and a good attitude, as Sandy obliquely observes,
Do Not Have Intrinsic Power to Change Circumstances.
Happy thoughts are not magic.
Happy thoughts do not unleash the power of God.
Conversely, if you do not have Happy Thoughts, this does not mean that everything in your life will go wrong, and all your work and carefully crafted infrastructure will crash mightily to the ground.
Not only is it okay to have an Unhappy Thought, it is a necessary part of moving forward and establishing a sense of honesty with yourself.
You can't fool me: I know you're human. The Men in Black movie is not a documentary.
On the whole, it's good to operate on the sunny side of the street -- pessimists generally don't make it to centenarian status -- but part of maintaining a positive outlook on life is stopping now and then, when circumstances pound and pummel us to a state of semi-consciousness, and saying (to oneself, to one's close friend/confidante, to one's God):
"I am discouraged.
"I don't know where to go now.
"Nothing seems to be working.
Now admittedly, that last plea is easier when you are asking Someone who is stronger and bigger than you are for some guidance, but if you don't have a Someone like that in your circle, it helps at the very least to admit it to yourself, because, quite frankly, even when we are talking to a higher power, the statements we come up with are no surprise to Him -- although they probably are to us.
Have you heard this one?
"Unless you recognize that there is a problem in the first place, you can't go about solving it."
And so we unearth the issue with never letting the smile off your face, never allowing yourself to reflect honestly upon the way things have been going: Unless you admit that something needs to be changed, you can't go about changing it.
Some people are so adamant about the power of Happy Thoughts that they consider the very process of admitting that something might be going wrong to be a form of blasphemy, so egregious that its very utterance will cause the doom they fear to unfurl itself around their ears.
If you ascribe to this belief, then you believe in a god of your own creation -- one that will eventually disappoint you because it is little more than rank superstition.
By all means, be upbeat -- train yourself to be so if your natural tendency is the opposite -- but allow yourself the full range and spectrum of being transparently honest:
Not on Facebook.
Not in a public forum.
Not in meltdown at an artist's reception.
But to yourself.