Happiness, Tesselations and Tangled Hair (or, it is truly all in how you look at it)

Some art is beautiful and moving. Some art just makes me think. The dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher’s intricate woodcuts and lithographs are examples of the kind of academic, exacting art that moves me little but inspires me lots. His works

feature impossible constructions, explorations of infinity, architecture, and tessellations.

They are studies of perspective. His work Relativity shows figures walking up stairs that are upside down and others walking down stairs who should be falling off into space. Our minds struggle to adjust. It is truly all in how you look at it.

I was out with a friend Tuesday night and got a frantic string of texts from my daughter. Here is the transcription:

Hi Mom, I got a comb stuck in my hair….WHAT DO I DO?



See Mom:

Oh my. As I gave her my advice of using a bucket of conditioner and slowly trying to work the hair free, I could hear her brothers in the background. They were apparently “helping”. I then had to ask

Honey, are you crying or laughing?

The answer is a study in perspective that shows like Escher’s works, that life is often all in how you look at things. Ensnared and frantic though she was, her whole-hearted response was: “I’m laughing Mom. This is hilarious!”

This ability to see the stairs as right-side up and rising is such a gift! She has the ability to use perspective to her advantage. Currently this very skill is being widely studied and often touted as the key to happiness. As happiness has become a subject of study (an Amazon search of books on happiness yields no less than 24,170 results) we are collectively being told to adjust our thinking in order to be more content. In her book The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin repeatedly finds that if she acts the way she wants to feel, she feels the way she wanted to – be it happier or more energetic. She cites studies that show making yourself smile can boost your mood. In a recent lecture by Dr. David Sobel he advised us to pursue happiness. He pointed out that

stress is produced by the stories we tell ourselves … optimists who tell themselves more positive, empowering stories tend to be healthier, live longer and enjoy life more.

Ah indeed, the old “cup is half full” advice. Or the stairs are right side up. Or the tangled hair is funny. I find myself (though more naturally a the-cup-is-half-full-AND-half-empty kid of person) – inspired.


P.s.: My daughter’s story and picture were published with her permission. As fits her positive perspective, she thought being blogged about would be a hoot!

4 thoughts on “Happiness, Tesselations and Tangled Hair (or, it is truly all in how you look at it)

  1. I was just listening to an audio interview today that talked about the impact of positivity on our body. Apparently the positive perspective isn’t just good for blogging purposes… but really great for health!! Yay! ~Rashel

  2. Haha, I’m glad she was laughing (I kinda was but I’ve been in that position before). You’re so right about it’s all how you look at it!

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