A Coaching Power Tool Created by Eva Schwarz
(Men in Transition, ISRAEL)
Pierre Soulages 1959
Most of us probably don’t believe we need a formal definition of happiness; we know it when we feel it, and we often use the term to describe a range of positive emotions, including joy, pride, contentment, and gratitude. Greater Good Magazine Science-Based Insight for a meaningful Life
As an adherent art lover, my favorite painting is from Pierre Soul ages (1956) with its soul embracing humanity.
At first sight, it’s an abstract painting like so many others. Thicker paint. Thinner paint. Heavy strokes. Lighter strokes. No figures. No symbols. When we start looking longer and deeper we suddenly see an almost spiritual golden light shining through the darkness, the unhappiness; unexpectedly realizing that the painting encompasses a multitude of emotions and countless amounts of contradictions.
Each individual is a painting where life’s strokes make up our mosaic. Strokes are added daily and empty parts of the canvas are still waiting to be painted. Every stroke represents our past: An encounter. A relationship. A beautiful moment.Sadness. True love. Happiness and unhappiness. All our experiences.
What is in common between us all is the search for happiness. Some people are born with a happy factor higher than others. Some see the glass half full and those who see the glass half empty. The people who see the glass as half full in general see the world in a positive light and fast rebound from difficulties or sadness. But today it is proven that the happiness bandwidth of people who see the glass half empty can increase substantially.
What is this happiness we all thrive to reach? Dr. Tal Ben Shachar a foremost scholar in Positive Psychology talks about that success leads to a temporary high but we very fast return to our normal level. We need to start thinking of our life differently; becoming life connoisseurs. Accepting emotions. Ensure having happiness boosters (research shows that an hour or two of a meaningful and pleasurable experience can affect the quality of an entire day or even a whole week). Focusing on the half-full glass. Prioritize relationships and express gratitude.
From turmoil, ambiguity, unhappiness, the client looks for a coach to assist in bringing structure and clarity with the final goal of happiness.
The puzzle called Nancy (name changed for anonymity) was made up of more or less equal parts of light and dark strokes in all nuances. But she only saw the half-empty glass. As often her real issues were not as presented.
Showing Nancy the Soul ages painting and asking her the following questions:
- Where do you see yourself in this painting?
- What makes you see yourself there?
- Where do you want to be?
- How will you know when you are there?
- What will it feel like?
- How will you benefit when you have reached your goal?
- Which steps can you take to be there?……..
It took Nancy a few minutes to measure herself with the emotions of the painting. And another half an hour until she started to see the golden light shining divine through the darkness. She had a fraction of a second the sensation of lightness and happiness. It was so strong that she even now a few months later can recall the feeling. In a second session where I assisted her in exploring Happiness vs. Unhappiness, she made the change. Saw the glass change from half empty to half full. I’m regularly, as we agreed, checking in on Nancy. Now three months down the road the light is becoming brighter and brighter.
In “Art of Loving” Eric Fromm explains love as a skill that can be taught and developed. Like Happiness (vs. Unhappiness) can be taught and developed. And as there are many types of love there are between happiness and unhappiness many types, many shades.
My clients with the half-empty glass view when looking at the painting and taking it all in, are without exceptions drawn to the light and lightness, to the feeling happiness brings vs unhappiness. They like Nancy realize the need of changing their mindset from a half-empty glass to a half-full glass.