What an Artist and a Lizard Taught Me about Happiness

Aesop’s Fables, by Patricia A. Solin

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I have always been a goal-oriented person. Initially, I wanted to be financially successful. When I formed my law firm, I wanted to attract clients and win trials. As a wealth advisor, I wanted to accumulate AUM. As an author, I wanted to sell books.

But I’ve learned my goal-oriented focus had a negative impact on my happiness. It took an artist and a lizard to show me a better way.

The artist

My wife, Patricia, is a portrait and still-life artist. The image above of Aesop’s Fables is her work. For the past 15 years or so she studied in Europe and in North America honing her craft. She spent thousands of hours learning the basics of drawing before she used oil paints. Several years ago, we moved from Florida to Jersey City, New Jersey for one year, so she could attend a division of the Florence Academy of Art there. Getting from our apartment to the school involved a short train ride and a walk of a mile or so, often in very inclement weather. She would stand for 10-12 hours a day during class and return home exhausted.

She loved it.

For Patricia, it’s not the destination. It’s the journey. She doesn’t want to be famous or sell her art. Indeed, I have to encourage her to even display it.

When I used to ask her what her goal was (something I no longer do), she would reply, “I want to be the best artist I can be.”

She is the happiest person I know.