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TOTD 26 Oct 2001

Happiness is a talent like any other. It's another art form. Some people are good at it, some people aren't.

-Terri Windling

I like Terri Windling's idea, except for that last part.

I can draw. I've spent many years studying human anatomy, mastering the use of various drawing media through repetition and experimentation. I've read books, taken classes, and compared notes with other people making the same life-long journey into proficiency.

Many people, upon seeing my drawings, have said something to the effect of, "You're so lucky. I wish I could draw like that. I can't even draw a stick figure."

I agree that I have been lucky. I received encouragement and praise for drawing as a young child. I've had the opportunity to develop my "native talents" in safe environments and under the direction of knowledgeable teachers. I may even have a "knack" for drawing, but what skill I now possess did not spring fully formed from the brow of Zeus. I developed it over time through practice and applied effort.

If someone who wishes they could draw were to make the same investment of time and attention in learning that I did, their results would differ from mine according to their "natural ability," but their skills would improve with practice and instruction. I think the same holds true for happiness and contentment. Some people just seem to be "put together" such that happiness appears to just come "naturally" for them, but I can improve upon what I have through conscious attention and diligent practice.

"What practice?" you may ask.

The whole of the TOTD archive represents my initial attempts to articulate an answer to that question, but really, I think just about any sustained commitment to the mastery of a skill or cultivation of an awareness, i.e. any "practice," will increase my sense of satisfaction and engagement with life.

Take care.

-KMO

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