13 years ago almost to the day the seeds were planted for the work that we do here at Creative Wellbeing Workshops. We can trace this so precisely because it happened in late September of 2006 when Rebecca was living in Costa Rica. As a way to connect and spend time together, Gioia invited Rebecca to participate in an online class being run by our friend and colleague Lani Gerity called the Happiness Challenge, an 8-week course that combined writing and art directives with the emerging Science of Wellbeing and Happiness.
This interlude into happiness was truly illuminating for us. It helped clarify why Rebecca could be “living in paradise” but be unhappy and Gioia could be working in a job that paid well but be restless and bored. It also shifted the focus that we, as therapists, had placed so exclusively on fixing the problems we and our clients faced to identifying and building on what made us stronger, more resilient, and happier.
One of the exercises that Lani gave us was to do artwork about a situation or feeling that we were struggling with and what it would look like if it were better. This combined the opportunity to express the stress with the power of art to help us manifest a better state (see Rebecca’s example above and here). It acknowledges the importance of externalizing and releasing conflicted feelings we have about challenges we’re facing while introducing the benefits of imagining what it would feel like if it were better. When we visualize feeling better, our minds experience that enhanced sense of wellbeing as if it were so.
Lani’s Happiness Challenge also included exercises that focused on blessings, building our strengths, looking at beliefs that keep us from being happy, and exploring what gives our lives meaning and purpose. Going through her course helped Rebecca realize that she needed to come back to the States and be closer to her friends and family and Gioia needed to find work that capitalized on her strengths more. If you want to check out Lani’s Happiness Challenge, she has a booklet version of it available here.
And if this kind of online course inspires you, we just found out that our New Zealand friend and colleague Janet McLeod is starting a similar class October 7th, 2019 called the Create Wellbeing 30 Day Challenge designed to boost creativity and happiness. We have decided to sign up because, not only can it be helpful for us to do the work we teach about but it turns out that Lani is joining too! So we will all be revisiting a process we began so many years ago! Click here for more information on Janet’s Create Wellbeing Challenge. We would love to play with you there!
In the meantime, we provide you with a handout on Self-Care to help you manage any stress you are facing. Next month, we will dive a little more deeply into the idea of expressing the stress through creative journaling.
Positively yours, Rebecca and Gioia
Think about a situation or feeling that you are struggling with. Use color, line, and shape, or collage, clay, or any other medium to capture what that feels like and what it would be like if it were better. Notice how you feel after expressing the stress and visualizing the situation improving. Share your results with us on our FB page. We’d love to see them!