A (brief) Moment of Gratitude – Skinny Artist

A (brief) Moment of Gratitude

We spend a lot of time on this site talking about all of the things we should be doing in order to build our online reputation as an artist/writer/musician/etc…  What happens, however, is that we spend so much of our time running after these goals, that we sometimes forget to take a step back and be thankful for what we have already achieved.

Sometimes I forget. . . .

I’m guilty. I’ll admit that sometimes I get so wrapped up with what I’m doing and where I want to go next, that I forget to take the time to enjoy what I’ve already done, and perhaps more importantly, to recognize how many people have helped me along the way. When I actually take the time to look, however, I realize just how much I have to be thankful for. . .

  • I am grateful for those of you who I have had the pleasure to connect and develop friendships with over this past year.
  • I am thankful for my beautiful wife and my family who have always supported me and surprisingly never seem to wonder why.
  • I am grateful for each one of you who has chosen for whatever reason to spend a few minutes out of your day visiting this site and sharing your thoughts with us. Your support is truly appreciated.

I have been blessed and have received so much help from so many people along the way, that I feel compelled to give something back in whatever small way I can.  I am always privileged (and more than a bit surprised) when I have the ability to answer a reader’s question, point them in the right direction, or simply offer them a smile and an encouraging word.  I have learned from those far smarter than I that this desire to give back comes from understanding how much we have already received from others. 

At times our light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.  Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. ~Albert Schweitzer

 

That’s great, but what do I have to be grateful about?

  • Be grateful you recognized your passion for your art early enough in your life to be able to do something about it.
  • Be grateful that you live somewhere prosperous and safe enough where you have the luxury to do your art.
  • Be grateful that you have family and friends who support you pursuing your dreams and living your life as an artist.
  • Be grateful that you can see the beauty in the world around you and have the ability to recreate it with your art.

Sometimes you have to remember that simply living the life of an artist is a triumph.

This is not just about feeling thankful, however, it’s about finding that deeper sense of happiness and contentment  in your life.

 

Gratitude –> Contentment –> Happiness

In the end it’s not happiness that makes us grateful, but it’s gratefulness that makes us happy. Every great spiritual teacher throughout history has told us that it’s gratitude that leads us to contentment, and it’s contentment that leads us to happiness.

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.  ~G.K. Chesterton

When we feel grateful, it changes our focus from what we don’t yet have, to what we already possess.  It’s this subtle shift in our attention that can change our outlook on life and what it means to be a success.  Too many of us, however, continue to play this game from the wrong end.  We demand our happiness/success first and we assume that eventually this success will lead to contentment down the road.

We also tend to see the idea of gratitude as something that is optional.   Like so many of the other things in life that we end up doing assbackward, we spend all of this time and energy chasing after the wrong things and then we are surprised by the results.

 

Having said all of that. . .

Contentment and gratitude are not some kind of new-age code for sitting around on your ass all day feeling good about yourself as an artist. You should always keep striving, keep experimenting, and keep evolving in your work. Just be sure to take a moment to reflect on how how far you’ve already come as an artist and a human being

 

What are you grateful for this year as an artist?

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About the Author

Writer, teacher, and head custodian of the Skinny Artist community. His book "Getting Creative: Developing Creative Habits that Work" is all about finding the time (and energy) to live a more creative life.

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(14) comments

Oh thank you for posting! For me, this year? Finding wonderful communities of artists locally and online. Having the time and resources to focus on my art. Sounds generic when I write it out, but I have shifted much more of my time to art this year, and I’m so happy that (a) I can and (b) it’s working out.

Reply
    Drew

    Hi Liz!

    I really have been amazed at the online artist community. It turns out that once you break through that lone-wolf facade, most artists are pretty social people once you get to know them.

    As visual artists/writers/musicians we create something that is both completely unnecessary (from an economic standpoint), and yet so completely necessary (to our creative soul). When you think about those people around the world who never get a chance to express their creativity because they are too busy just trying to survive day-to-day, it makes you realize just how lucky we really are!

    Thanks again Liz for stopping by and sharing your thoughts :)

    Reply

Drew,
Thank you for such a wonderful reminder of the things that are important. My favorite line from above is: “Contentment and gratitude are not some kind of new-age code for sitting around on your ass all day feeling good about yourself as an artist.” There are far too many people that have that attitude of entitlement. So I am thankful that I do not take my career as an artist for granted…it is all incredibly fleeting. I am humbled by the mere fact that I can do and be what I absolutely love.
~ S L Donaldson

Reply
    Drew

    You’re absolutely right! As much as we (meaning me) bitch and complain on this site about being unappreciated as an artist/writer/or whatever — I know how fortunate we are to have the chance to create our art. You don’t have to look around too far to realize that everyone is not so lucky. . .

    Hopefully it’s possible to bitch about it and be grateful for it all at the same time ;)

    Reply

For me, drawing breath is a good enough reason. :) The miracle of life, the inherent kindness in the nature of life and the fact that we can do whatever we want with it . . . that’s at the very top of my list. That you are all here for me to share with and to serve in the ways that I can, that’s another. That we are currently living in times that engender and expand these things within all of us so readily . . . if I were the luckiest man alive, I couldn’t ask for more.

Reply
    Drew

    I couldn’t have said it any better myself Jamie :)

    I think you’re right that in the end it’s not about what you create or what kind of recognition you think you deserve. . . . it’s about what you can share and do for others. That seems to be the lesson all of us are here to learn.

    Reply

Thank you for helping me stop in the middle of my busy day and reflect on how lucky I am to be having a “busy day”! It’s so easy to get bogged down with what I call “quality problems”. I am so grateful to be able to do work I love with the complete and unwavering support of my husband and the rest of my family. Tomorrow my son is coming home for the holiday…….What can I say? Life is sweet! Thanks!

Reply
    Drew

    Hi Dianne!

    I remember reading somewhere that in some zen monasteries they ring a bell several times a day while the monks are out and about attending to their daily chores. When they hear this bell chime, they’re supposed to stop whatever they are doing and refocus their mind on the present moment. Perhaps we could all use this type of daily reminder to not take these precious moments in our lives for granted (I know I certainly could!)

    Reply

Gratitude for great friends and great writers. I’m grateful for a warm safe home, being able to grow my own clean food and being able to teach my children what I feel is important. I am grateful for a mind that can wander into creativity even when my hands can’t. (: Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Drew!

Reply
    Drew

    Thank you so much for your holiday wishes Amy! I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with friends, family, and perhaps a few stolen moments of solitude along the way.

    I think it’s amazing how simply talking about all of this with you guys has made me once again appreciate just how lucky I am. So thank you everyone and please keep them coming! :)

    Reply

“At times our light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~Albert Schweitzer via The Skinny Artist. This Albert Schweitzer quote describes my gratitude for the bubbling, generous arts community on Twitter. I feel so grateful to all the people on Twitter who have interacted with me and who I’ve gotten to know throughout the year.

There’s so much encouragement and contagious art buzz and excitement every day on Twitter. Having the privilege of jumping right into the constant Twitter art stream and being buoyed up with so much positivity and so many amazing forms of creativity splashing around definitely helped wake up my dormant creativity into actively making art again. Thanks online art peeps! I really appreciate it. :)

Reply
    Drew

    I think you’re right Julia that it’s the ability of the internet to bring us together that makes it so powerful. I think eventually we’ll get past the novelty aspect of the internet where we all share our favorite “cat flushing the toilet” videos, and it will become more of a medium where real online conversations and communities are formed that rival anything “offline”. In fact, I can see this beginning to happen more and more everyday even on humble little sites such as this one.

    With the rise of Twitter, Facebook, and all the other social media sites — It has become easier than ever to find those people who naturally connect with our personality and “just get” who we are. That means we no longer have to force a particular friendship or pretend to be someone we’re not. We can simply be who we are, and those people who get that, will eventually find us.

    As someone who’s personality is certainly not for everyone, I can say that I’m extremely grateful to be living in this digital age ;)

    Reply
Gwylym Owen

Drew,

I appreciate you and our stimulating exchanges and the way your thoughts often coincide with mine, the way that you have time for everyone and the pragmatic but passionate honesty that you show to the World everyday.

I also appreciate my life and all of its struggles :-) To struggle is to learn, to fail is to yearn, to be wise is to earn.

Well done mate, enjoy it!

Reply
    Drew

    Thank you Gwylym for your kind words. Your support of me and this site is truly appreciated :D

    After reading your comment and talking with you about your own writing and poetry, I was reminded of a quote by the great Irish playwright and poet Samuel Beckett when he said: “Fail, fail again, fail better”

    The secret, of course, is that you can never stop trying . . .

    Reply
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