An Equation for Joy
‘It has come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.’
This statement worthy of any of the 21st Century ‘thought leaders’ was written over 500 years ago by Leonardo da Vinci and it seems as fitting a place as any to start a book on the what brings us real joy and that hidden something that we all seek whilst working in whatever metier. The answer is Passion. It’s why we still hold a fascination with the Da Vinci’s, Michelangelo’s, Einstein’s and Jobs of this world. It appears as if they were all geniuses driven by some hidden divine force that allowed them to rise above every rejection and hardship to continue with their vision.
But the answer lies simply in their passion. They had no other choice.
I know this feeling well. As a physicist, artist and teacher to thousands over the years, it was a simple question repeatedly asked by so many which eventually made me reverse engineer my process; ‘how do you do what you do?’ I had no idea that the connections I made were in any way special, but it slowly dawned on me that despite so many struggles, personally and financially, the one thing that kept me going was my passion. Passion for the hidden connections between seemingly unrelated things which I could sense were there, but took time to visualise and a passion for passing it onto to others as that feeling of ‘living in the moment’, so central to happiness must be, by its nature, shared.
With the explosion in scientific research on the nature of creativity, we are slowly starting to understand what drives the seemingly exceptional and from where their moments of insight come. As scientist and artist, I constantly have the dichotomy of rational versus intuitive thought, but I do know, that once you can understand a thing, it no longer has power over you, however you reach that understanding. And fear of the unknown is the one thing that we all have to overcome. So how do we locate our own personal passion? How do we put it into action in a real world of finances and commitments and everyday existence?
The scientist in me looks for the method; the artist looks for ways to visualise it. Both artist and scientist look for metaphors for our existence; the language is just a little different but drawing, sketching, doodling and mark making is common to both. It allows us to really ‘see’ the problem. Not what we ‘think’ it is. That’s half the trick. Not finding the answer, but getting the question right.
When drawing a human eye for example, we have such a deep rooted belief that it is almond shaped, that we immediately draw it this way regardless of the person or their features. But by really looking, we see it is actually just a series of folds and creases that cover a socket in the head. And this metaphor for truly seeing what is there, holds true not just in drawing but in everything from our everyday associations to our relationships with ‘us’.
Buddha said ‘when the student is ready the teacher will appear’ and as an eternal student I can verify this. One of the wonderful things about having my feet planted in so many worlds is that I have met some incredibly wise, clever people. One of the most powerful statements passed to me, is that ‘If I seek security in others or my environment I am bound to be disappointed as I can control neither. I can only control myself and my behaviour and try to be the best version of myself there is’.
That’s what this book is about; becoming the best version of you there is and in so doing, finding your own Equation for Joy.