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At the Barnes Foundation

Henri Matisse. Blue Still Life (Nature morte bleue), Summer 1907. Oil on Canvas. Barnes Foundation.


In October we will be devoting the whole month to giving you ideas drawn from the history of art to inspire your photography, and to consider how the subjects in art can be a great source of inspiration for your own wellbeing and rich life. 

For now take a look at the image at the top of the page – the Matisse. Think how you might imitate the painting – What inspires you? The rich colors? One color in particular? The still life? The shapes and forms? Whatever it is, can you have a joyful hour or so taking photos inspired by what you notice?


Pictured: Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Le Béal (detail), c. 1912. BF859. Public Domain.

Mondays October 2 – October 22, 6-8pm via ZOOM

We just learned about a great course on wellbeing, flourishing, and the arts: James Pawelski, a good friend to SeeingHappy and the director of the Humanities and Human Flourishing Project at UPenn will be teaching at the Barnes along with Katherine Cotter, Associate Director of Research at the Human Flourishing Project. James says,

“Flourishing is the ability to live life well—to have positive experiences, develop one’s potential, enjoy mutually supportive relationships, be a part of a healthy community, maintain a sense of meaning, and remain resilient in the face of life’s difficulties and dangers. One way we can cultivate flourishing is through engaging with visual art. ……..this course explores how we can connect with art to enhance our emotional experiences, feel more engaged in our lives, develop more satisfying relationships, and deepen our sense of meaning.”


What is a good life? This question is, in many ways, a fundamental question for SeeingHappy. If we don’t know what it is, how can we pursue it?

Of course, many people differ in what they believe a good life to be. There are as many answers as there are people. Positive Psychology tells us about the Pleasant Life and the Meaningful Life. The Pleasant Life is devoted to having as much pleasure as possible. People who lead this life often prioritize making as much money as possible so that they can fund that good life for themselves and those they love. The other, the meaningful life, is devoted to doing good on different levels such as family, community and the wider world. It is committed and disciplined, but can be narrow sometimes because it can require a laser focus on pursuing a worthy objective.

But some people don’t identify with either of these “good lives”  and might be thinking: Where is adventure? Where is the unknown?

There is a third life that has been described by Shige Oishi – The Rich Life. It is about growth, learning, and being challenged. It is not the easiest route and not for the faint of heart. Oishi says that many people don’t even want this kind of life. It is only when looking back and seeing missed opportunities that they begin to wonder if their life could have had more perspective changing experiences.

The Rich Life is not marked by great pleasure or great service to others. It is marked by a curiosity about the world, a love of learning, of excitement, and the willingness to experience the full spectrum of human emotions – from good all the way to bad. It is neither narrow nor boring but it may be sometimes uncomfortable. It is a life filled with interesting experiences that change your perspective and ultimately leads to wisdom. It is a bumpy ride – full of ups and downs.

What experiences add to a Rich Life? Travel, Art, Music, the Humanities. Being open to experience. Saying “Yes” more often. The arts and humanities shape how we see the world. They open us us to alternative ways of being in the world. They connect us to others both past and present. They can inspire awe. 

We can’t wait to explore with you how art can open your mind to new perspectives!

The Team at SeeingHappy



The team here at SeeingHappy are all photographers who enjoy the process of creating memorable photos. We are a mix of educators striving to share their knowledge and psychologists dedicated to increasing happiness in the world.

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