Pursuit of (Creative) Happiness
Words by Veronica Mike Solheim
I’ve been listening to this podcast lately, Sånn er du (This is you). The concept is based on The Big Five personality test, a model widely considered to be the basis of most modern personality research. In the podcast, politicians, artists, authors and actors answer 240 questions in advance and have their personality revealed ‘live’ during the episode. The result is based on The Big Five traits — openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism — but there are also a handful of subcategories, really digging into personal corners. You can’t really hide a thing.
The reason I mention this is because 1. Some of the episodes have deeply touched me and 2. I’ve suddenly become self-conscious about my own and others traits. Human resources professionals often use the Big Five personality test to help place employees. After all, your personality says a lot about how you function with others, at work and in life in general.
Even though there are many great things to discover about your own personality, it’s usually discovery of the dark and scary things hidden deep down that has the greatest impact. So, naturally, this is what the journalists like to focus on in the podcast. One creative after another sits with them in the studio, eventually reaching conclusions about the dark shit.
«So, let’s see how much of a self-critic you are.»
«How self-conscious are you really?»
«Do you ever experience any kind of inner joy?»
What’s really a shame, is it seems the more acknowledged and talented they are, the more self-critical and self-conscious they are about themselves and their work. I mean, when world famous author Karl Ove Knausgård says that he always feels submissive in interaction with others, and one of Norway’s most successful actors Kristoffer Joner thinks people are lying when they say he’s a good actor.. well, the world is cruel, but our minds are the worst.
Karl Ove Knausgård consented that, yes, he does feel happy when launching a new book, but adds «but I know that it’s only temporarily. The joy isn’t real». He’s at his most happy when he’s not in touch with himself, like when he’s playing with his kids. Or writing.
Many questions arise in my mind: Is our need to express ourselves creatively a desperate attempt to create meaning and a place to escape? Are my ambitions based on my need to prove to others that I can, or am I really in this for me? If creatives who’ve actually ‘made it’ still feel small and untalented, will there ever be time to rest; a time when we’re actually happy with what we’ve achieved? Not least — how can we convince ourselves and each other that we are talented, and that we’re not just a bunch of frauds?
I don’t have the answer to any of the questions above, and I’m definitely not an exception. I’m driven by ambitions, I spend too little time on rewarding and celebrating my own achievements. One goal is replaced by another. And I think it boils down to the fact that achievements are not the same as happiness, even though most people (myself included) tends to bundle them together. However, our own achievements and self-development can make us feel happy and proud and grateful, if we acknowledge them.
I’m not sure when and where, but a few weeks back someone said, casually, «Did you ever imagine that you’d launch ten issues of this magazine? It’s a huge thing!» And it is. And I could never have imagined. But instead of feeling proud, I felt sad over the fact that I didn’t. I was too focused on the next, my mind always a head ahead. And come on, if I haven’t allowed myself to feel happy about launching my very first jubilee issue, then why am I doing it in the first place? What is it that we [creatives] are truly waiting for?
Self-love and self-acceptance, my friends. And if we’re waiting for it to fall into our lap — if only we wrote another best-selling novel, had an even better role in the next film, or made an even more beautiful magazine — then we’ll spend our entire life waiting.
My number one goal is to free myself from craving and to be more happy and proud of what I’m doing right now. And as I write this, the very last words of this issue, we are about to launch our first jubilee and it’s pretty damn awesome.
I want to thank and congratulate my wonderful team; Andris, Maja, Markus and Andreas. And I want to thank you too; for buying, supporting, reading, looking, and for sharing it with us.
Repeat after me:
«I’m a brilliant creative.»
First published in Volume Ten.