Picket Dream by kristinmarting
May 27, 2010, 8:51 pm
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Tal, Yana and I are thrilled to have been invited to participate in The Figment festival on Governor’s Island this June 11-13.

Here’s Tal’s description of what we will be doing over the three days:

The white picket fence is an evocation of the American Dream; an idyllic sanctuary that promises safety and happiness within its gates. This installation asks participants to label each picket with their own dream or
their perception of the American Dream and then plant the picket, adding it to an ever-expanding spiral fence. The fence will ultimately contain a thousand Picket Dreams as it evolves over the course of the festival.

We will let you know as soon as we have more details.

Rethinking the American Dream Culture: by kristinmarting
May 27, 2010, 8:19 pm
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Thanks to Rudy Mungaray for sharing this absorbing article from Vanity Fair about the changing status of the American Dream:

Rethinking the American Dream Culture:

Happiness Think Tank Notes by kristinmarting
May 17, 2010, 8:47 pm
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How do we define happiness objectively? (pt. 4)

Is happiness physical? emotional? spiritual? other? 

What is the baseline? is it culturally or experientially defined? 

Physical vs. in the mind? Is it different in different cultures? “in most places in South America, people tend to be happy. In America, people aren’t happy”

Discontent = a survival trait

Is happiness just contentment? Is that enough? 

Happiness is pleasures of the flesh – fleeting by nature: food, music, sex, luxury, abandon, art, beauty, nature, drugs

Can’t sustain the endorphin state of happiness, physiology of the body. Happiness is a physical condition.

Boredom is the enemy of happiness

Key discovery toward enlightenment is that happiness is in you. Happiness is not outside of you. Wizard of Oz – happiness is in your own backyard.

Ignorance is bliss? 

Puritan framework — things associated with happiness (pleasures of the flesh) are necessarily bad. Do we want to be happy? 

What was the founders’ idea of the “pursuit of happiness”? Freedom from kings? to practice puritanical ideals? freedom to make money? to have equal standing with others so you have opportunity? 

New York was founded on money, not religion. Philadelphia was founded on religious freedom.

Pursuit of happiness is not a guarantee of happiness — the action to pursue.

Happiness = pure emotion

Too much choice makes happiness difficult. Are we all different or all the same? 

What provokes happiness? An action? Does smiling make you happy, or does happiness make you smile? 

Retail experiences — Apple store, very successful believable display of happy employees. Not true at Disney. What’s the difference? 

What does success have to do with happiness? In America, it can be the only way we define happiness. Environment affects happiness. 

Happiness is about context. 

Rising up the ladder isn’t automatic. Because of WWII, the US enjoyed a long period of rising up. 

story of the friend who was “living the life” — career, family — but wasn’t actually happy. Didn’t want to talk about it anymore. 

Did people not question whether they were happy at any point?

How much are you allowed to have? Tempered success — where do you feel happy? Living up to your own expectations. Where do expectations come from? Internal or external? 

Image of happiness changes in your mind over time.

Everyone in New York has things they want that they can’t have.

“If you took the products out of the store, people wouldn’t desire them” — not true in Russia 1988, but the people knew of the products’ existance. If you can’t have it, you want it more. 

America is a service society as opposed to a producing society. 

Producers have to gauge our audience or buyer — create the product or service to deliver happiness.

The definition is bound to change — change is the only constant. 

Love vs. being in love, can’t be sustained, like happiness.

What’s between happiness and unhappiness? Is happiness being “not unhappy”?

If you question it constantly, can you be happy? 

Happiness Think Tank Notes by kristinmarting
May 13, 2010, 5:04 pm
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Is Happiness a process or a product? (pt 3)

Group: Elenna, Yana, Lara, Byron, Hamilton

Can happiness be had? Is it an attitude? As a Canadian, happiness that gets exported is consumable happiness. Usually through stuff. Cars, clothes.

Maybe we are born with the chemical that creates the potential for happiness.

 Realized happiness was a choice at 18.  I sometimes consciously choose to be happy. I think with practice you can will happiness. So that I guess is a process.

 What about retail therapy.

 60 minutes episode. Denmark is the happiest country. 50% taxes cover expenses that bog down American Dream ideals.

 Is happiness an absence? Like kids with toys. Once the happy thing is defined by something, it gets rejected for something simpler.

 Movement creates happiness. Exercise and being physical helps with happiness.

 Mom did heroine for a long time. The used crack/ cocaine. Then she started getting tired by trying to fill a void, and was forced to find a new happiness. Now she has it. Had to make the choice to rehabilitation helped the choices move towards things that made her happy. The choice, the decision changed the happiness. Like break up sex. You just get tired of it.  Instead of getting high to feed the kids, she didn’t have to do that anymore.

 Is there a universal happiness? Will my happiness be the same in 20 years? 30?

 Happiness is about perspective.

 Essence of perspective is that it is expressed differently- but its how we get there.

 Is there a possibility that some people don’t have the choice to be happy?

 Happiness cannot come from external sources? Anti-depressants allow you to function, but not be happy

 Depression connected to age?  Can happiness just leave us?

 Expectations of age and happiness? 

 Can we be told we’re happy/not happy? 

 Dreams of yesterday lost in today’s world? 

 Things are being lost, happiness connected to communication/communion

Happiness is learned?

 Happiness as survival tool?  Not feel victim to things?

 Happiness rooted in desire?

Friends who don’t want us to be happy?  Don’t believe it?  Think it’s fake.

 Is happiness continuous?

People who drag us down?

Is it easier to be low with others? 

 Happiest with others or alone? 

 America happiness connected to individual happiness rather than communal?

 Denmark homogenous and thus are able to decide upon things more easily. 

 Ants and humans the only species to make war.

 Health care!!!!!!!  Why should I pay for others? 

911 – America did not eat itself apart, connected in tragedy. 

 Competition connected to capitalism

 The carrot of happiness dangled in America is so overwhelming, so powerful.

 Is happiness connected to integrity? 

 How you gonna eat without cash? 

 People need to be productive, is that happiness? 

Happiness Think Tank Notes by kristinmarting
May 12, 2010, 1:20 pm
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Happiness versus pleasure & Is happiness trite compared to joy? Positivity versus Pollyanna? (pt. 2)

Happiness is light, not deep. Joy is ???

Trite is too discriminatory.  Happiness is what we ???

Pleasure is temporary. Is happiness temporary?

Is the pursuit of happiness self-centered? Is there an obligation to the pursuit?

Pollyanna is superficial.

Who do you want to be in this crisis?

Sharon Salzberg Love & Kindness Mantra

Pursuit of happiness is American ambition

Happiness is hard for us to define.

“Happiness is a warm gun.”

How does happiness relate to privilege?

We all have different pursuits.

Is the glass half full? Or half empty?

“Forget your troubles, come on get happy.”

“Happy days are here again.”

“Don’t worry. Be happy.”

“If you’re happy and you know it…”

“Happy trails to you.”

 Laughter and happiness is contagious.

 Happiness is a platonic ideal?

Happiness Think Tank – Notes by talyarden
May 9, 2010, 8:31 am
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Is happiness influence by astrology , temperament?  Is it possible for all to be happy? (pt. 1)

It’s different than everyone deserves to be happy

But some people seem to choose to be unhappy so does that make them happy

When people are aligned with their temperament  they seem happy

I think in astrology it works that way

Some people need flexibility some need confinement

Trusting your idea of yourself

I’m flexible and very happy but others need structure to be happy

Self knowledge and trust in self knowledge seems important

I’m too old to worry about what my parents think.  I think it relates to contentment.

I went to a high powered school you had show you were professional and driven but as the years go by I don’t care how people judge me and I have become more relaxed and happier.

I have stereotypical ideas based on astrology.

I work with kids a lot and if they have ADD or dyslexia, you hope the teacher will recognize that but often they won’t because they have so many students and then there are these really unhappy kids  because they don’t fit in

Does fitting in matter – does everyone need to fit in?

Is my happiness my decision or is it affected by fate or outside forces like astrology what if I am born with bad sign alignment

It may be up to how people use that at as a filter how do they interpret those signs and use them.

Everyone experiences the same weather but they can feel very differently about based on their own choices.

In an imaginary world where people have all the tools to be happy would they be.

I think its up to people choices – my father in law who is in an unhappy marriage  bad job he hatred but made a choice to be stoic and live through adversity.  But his face will suddenly break into happiness because he discovers a cool gadget

There is a big industry promoting happiness, priests, rabbis, therapists etc.  I seems like there is a notion in our species that we can all be happy or at least should strive for it.

I think that some people just have a harder time it could be chemical they may not know what happiness is or can be o=r they don’t have certain kind off resources.

I think people get into patterns some people want to be right more, or be a victim than want to be happy.  Some people go through lots of adversity and then decide to be happy

Why is it in the declaration – to pursue happiness does that suggest we should all try to be happy.

I think the word can be commandeered by different groups.  The freedom to pursue happiness.  The capitalist can use that as a code word for making money and having success.  But the socialites my say its about the most happiness for the most people

It brings a level of hope because it means we have the right to choose what makes us happy

Happiness vs. property, having things

Happiness for me is about community and connections.

Does it matter that your community friends are happy for your happiness

It matters to me in terms of proximity and closeness.

I absorb people’s moods and it affects me.

I am a deflector of others moods.

So you need to learn who you are so that you have the tools how to be happy

I think you have to take happiness where you find it.  I chose to leave people who made me unhappy, family.  So I can have more control.

My mother seems unhappy because she likes to complain but actually she’s happy complaining – narrating her life.

Do you think some people are more equipped to be happy?

Yes chemistry, astrology.  Some signs are bold enough to break up a bad relationship or ask for the raise.  The first hurdle is being able to choose what makes you happy.  If you’re a thinking person yes.  For some people ignorance is bliss.

Do you thin k selfish people are happier.  Yes if they are less concerned with other peoples happiness. They may not compromise themselves so they are happier.  Or they have specific goals to pursue.

I think we have too much free time.  So we think too much about whether we can be happy.

When you camp and have no appliances but just simple choices it’s easier to be happy.

Discussion about TV.  Having it vs. not.

If you have too many choices – that can make you unhappy.  In school they said I could be anything I wanted and I resented that.  I wanted a direction.

Do you need unhappiness?

Think Tank # 2 – Happiness May 4th by yanaland
May 6, 2010, 11:57 am
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On May 4th  we gathered to discuss Happiness.  25 People joined together in the Here rehearsal space to delve into Happiness.  We had a lively and engaged conversation, we spoke of personal connections and national ideals, happiness as a product or a process.  Over the next week we will post transcripts of those conversations.  We want to open up this dialogue to our larger community.  We want to know how happiness relates to the American Dream and your relationship to happiness.  Thank you to all who attended, this is a very exciting way to begin a project with such an open forum of valuable ideas.   -yana

Happiness Think Tank Topics Generated

–       Happiness vs. Pollyanna.

–       Happiness vs. Pleasure

–       Is happiness trite as compared to joy?

–       How do we define happiness objectively?

–       Is happiness physical? Emotional? Something else?

–       Is happiness a process or a product?

–       Is happiness influenced by our temperament or astrological sign?

–       Is happiness alone different than happiness in a group?

–       How is your happiness influenced by the happiness of your peers?

–       Where does happiness begin?

–       Medicated happiness

–       Can we still “not worry and be happy?”

–       Is it possible for everyone to be happy?

–       Does rhythm relate to happiness?

Happy at Coney Island by talyarden
May 3, 2010, 1:39 am
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Thomas Jefferson’s Pursuit by talyarden
May 1, 2010, 1:39 pm
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The Giver of life gave it for happiness and not for wretchedness.” –Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 1782. ME 4:196, Papers 6:186

“If [God] has made it a law in the nature of man to pursue his own happiness, He has left him free in the choice of place as well as mode, and we may safely call on the whole body of English jurists to produce the map on which nature has traced for each individual the geographical line which she forbids him to cross in pursuit of happiness.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Manners, 1817. ME 15:124

“Perfect happiness, I believe, was never intended by the Deity to be the lot of one of his creatures in this world; but that he has very much put in our power the nearness of our approaches to it, is what I as steadfastly believe.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Page, 1763. ME 4:10, Papers 1:10

“The freedom and happiness of man… [are] the sole objects of all legitimate government.” –Thomas Jefferson to Thaddeus Kosciusko, 1810. ME 12:369

“[It is a] great truth that industry, commerce and security are the surest roads to the happiness and prosperity of [a] people.” –Thomas Jefferson to Francisco Chiappe, 1789. Papers 15:405

“The only orthodox object of the institution of government is to secure the greatest degree of happiness possible to the general mass of those associated under it.” –Thomas Jefferson to M. van der Kemp, 1812. ME 13:135

“I sincerely pray that all the members of the human family may, in the time prescribed by the Father of us all, find themselves securely established in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and happiness.” –Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Ellicot Thomas, et al., 1807. ME 16:290

posted by Tal