Van Gogh – The Spiritual Guide

I was with my son in Paris in July. It was a great trip. I wanted him to see the world. When he was young, he had wanted to be an artist and I decided way back then that I would take him to the art galleries of Europe and beyond.

Van Gogh Art Therapy
I was standing in front of this self-portrait of Van Gogh

Standing in front of Vincent at Musée d’Orsay was a highlight of the trip. As we looked at Vincent, I said something to my son like, “You will see this photo and others here the rest of your life, in books and online. At this moment, you are standing in front of beauty. Cherish this moment.” I was speaking to him. I was speaking to myself.

Van Gogh art moods
Lost in the moment, while viewing the stars

I stood before the stars Vincent had seen and captured and was lost to the world. While the room was crowded, there was no one else there but Vincent and me. Eventually, my son broke through and I took this photo. There are things and moments that transcend time, when we stop questioning – when we are at peace.

Van Gogh and Jack
Van Gogh and my son Jack

I wanted to remember this moment forever. I asked my son to stand in front of this work and I attempted to capture just enough of him.

Van Gogh perspective with my son

A teenage girl next to Jack exclaimed in English that she had seen this painting on “Doctor Who” and she and my son shared a moment together. I then watched him, as he took a photo and took one of my own.

Some would consider the life of Vincent Van Gogh as a sad one. I see the beauty that he gave us and take joy in knowing that he was here and joy in his gifts to us. Some people feel deeply and suffer for it. Vincent was able to reach out through his pain and communicate in a way few others have rarely approached. I celebrate his life!

There is a beautiful moment from “Doctor Who”, when The Doctor and companion take Vincent to the future – (2010) to see how his works were received. A man who would die alone with no idea that he had a positive effect on the world was able to see how very much he gave us. Do you ever try to project into the future and imagine the ripples in time of your existence? Do you ever try to live in such a way that you can be remembered fondly?

Lee Jordan, MBA, MEd, MCouns
Lee Jordan, MBA, MEd, MCouns

Well-Being in Positive Psychology

I purchased and read Martin Seligman’s, “Authentic Happiness” when I was a student counsellor. I was not impressed. Yes, I was interested in Positive Psychology as a shift of interest away from the “problems” (and more medical) model that had been the emphasis of psychology since the 19th Century. Yes, I wanted to see an emphasis on the “good life” (which was also the emphasis of the earliest Greek philosophers), but what I couldn’t accept was “happiness” as a motivation in and of itself. Things, events, relationships, accomplishments and other interactions can lead to feelings of “happiness”, but looking for happiness will always be illusive, because it is not a thing in itself (it is also completely subjective). Martin has understood the flaw in this approach and has revised his theory to make “well-being”, rather than happiness, the goal of Positive Psychology.

Martin, in his book “Flourish”, says that well-being is analogous to weather. Weather is not a thing in and of itself, but is a concept (or “construct”) which includes more basic elements, such as temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, etc. Well-being is a comparable construct, in that it is composed of elements (some more subjective than others). These elements for Martin, include:

Positive emotion (happiness and life satisfaction are aspects)
Engagement
Relationships
Meaning and purpose
Accomplishment
Martin refers to this as PERMA and says, “No one element defines well-being, but each contributes to it. Some aspects of these five elements are measured subjectively by self-report, but other aspects are measured objectively.” (Source, Accessed 29 August 2018)

As I read “Flourish”, I began to imagine these elements within one’s work. This site is about the application of these elements (and psychology more generally) to work and creative endeavours.