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The happiness factor by Robert Genn

The happiness factor
by Robert Genn

According to the recently released UN World Happiness Report, Canada's population is the fifth happiest in the world. Denmark, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands, in that order, are happier. The USA ranks 11th, the UK 18th. According to the report, Togo, Benin, Central African Republic and Sierra Leone had the most unhappy people.

Apart from income, the greatest determinants of human happiness are family ties and tribal instincts. A lot has been made of the fact that the happiest nations are Northern ones where the citizens struggle together against an inclement environment. If this were true it seems to me the Russians would be rated happier, but they're not. The only time you see them get up on the table and dance is after 14 vodkas. And, as everyone knows, Mexican babies are by far the happiest. Check out a Mexican day care sometime. Further, if tribalism is so hot, you'd think some of the Middle Eastern nations would be up there, too.

Statistics tell us that happy nations have a lot of clubs. Canada is awash with them. What self-respecting prairie town doesn't have a quilting group? What church basement in the Great White North doesn't have a Thursday Painting and Sketch Club where nodders endure a "short meeting and financial report" before the night's featured demo-doer? We Canucks are such a happy bunch.

But what about the art that issues from all this glee? Do tribalism and togetherness improve creative quality? Some people will swear on a stack of Robert's Rules of Order that they do. Others are not so sure. In my humble observation, artists who struggle on their own generally do best. Are these just a few of the unhappy loners who are chasing their tails, hell bent on throwing a monkey wrench into our uncontrolled laughing?

It seems to me the best club is the Great Universal Brotherhood and Sisterhood of Painters Dead and Alive (GUBSPDA). It's sort of virtual but it meets 24/7. The last person who signed up for these free Twice-Weekly Letters at one minute to midnight yesterday was Shailaja Poddar of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. Somehow I think we are all a bit happier when we admit we're in this together.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: "It's not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfillment, it's in the happiness of pursuit." (Denis Waitley)

Esoterica: Art clubs and guilds are primarily a North American and UK phenomenon, although some other nations are catching on. A club's main thrusts are mutual learning, gentle competition, networking and marketing. Clubs tend to neutralize the traditional model of rugged individualism and egocentricity that many now see as a hazard to the growth of quality and integrity. In clubs, in theory, all is fair. The strong are encouraged to encourage the weak until the weak become strong. That's when the formerly weak tend to leave the happy club and strike out on their own.
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Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to post from his twice-weekly newsletter. For more of his artistic insights, visit his blog at www.painterspost.com.

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