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ARTROVERTS! UNITE! Being Successful As An Artist

Recently I designed a t-shirt that says “ARTROVERTS UNITE! We’re here! We’re uncomfortable! We want to go home and create something.”

If you had asked me a few years ago when I started selling art, what it takes to be a successful artist… my answer would have been simple: the ability to produce good art.

I imagined that my artistic life would consist solely of me working in my studio, producing strokes of genius.

Art collectors would magically appear (poof) to buy art and leave. I would rarely have to leave my studio, and I would never have to go out into the “real” world. I would never again have to go to any social gathering I didn’t want to go to. This belief was clearly absurd, but I had all kinds of silly ideas in my brain jar of what being an artist was.

Now, almost a decade into it, I realize the subject of what it takes to be successful as an artist is much more intricate. It’s not just about producing art, although that is a BIG part of it. It’s about putting yourself out there again and again. Falling on your face and accepting rejection as part of the process.

Had I known all these years, my fear would have either gotten the better of me, or I would have blazed my own trail long ago. I would have become an ARTROVERT.

I love making art. I love being in my studio. Creativity is what keeps me from losing my shit, makes my life meaningful, and encourages me to jump out of bed in the morning even when the world seems to be amid a crap-storm.

The thing I didn’t understand when I first started was how much being an artist would require me to stretch myself. Or maybe I knew, which is why for most of my life, I didn’t pursue an art career. I stayed comfortably in the shallow end.

I had a friend that used to tell me that even our dream jobs will have roles we don’t like but which we accept so we can do the parts we love.

To be an artist, we have to accept the discomfort of being perpetually vulnerable, having no financial security, and being rejected often.

This involves putting yourself out there in front of the world… Which can be terrifying.

So How did you do it Rafi? How did you get over your fear?

I decided to take it step by step and not try to eat the entire enchilada all at once. I realized it wasn’t all or nothing, I could do it in chunks. I knew those chunks were going to hit on some major comfort zones. I also stopped comparing myself to where other artists were at in their careers.

Being an ARTROVERT is all about accepting the fact that it is OK that you don’t want to be social, and not punishing yourself for it. It means that you trust in communicating with your art and don’t concern yourself so much with how people see you.

You’re an artist, you are weird, and awkward sometimes, and that is OK. Artroverts love their studio, they love creating, and they love their quiet time. An artrovert also understands that if you are not putting yourself out there, you are not communicating your art with the world… so you show up.

To be an artist, it is quite simple. Create art, put it out there, and persist through the bullshit of your own mind or other people. Keep creating, keep showing up, and through that experience, you will let your weird artistic personality shine into the world along with your art.

Be unapologetically awkward, be creative, be an ARTROVERT.

Listen to our podcast below, where Klee and I talk about being ARTROVERTS.

And Here is A Quick Message From Some Random Sponsor (sorry 🙂 not sorry)

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A Birthday Art Party Bash On February 1st?

I am now turning some age in February where I have been deemed an old fart. I’m not being elusive about my age, I simply can never remember how old I am. However, I do remember that it happens every year on February 5th and for the most part, I like to relax with Klee and do nothing that day. No fanfare, no parties, no big todo, just a relaxed day, doing everything I do on just about every other day. I celebrate “me” a lot whether it is my birthday or not. This has led to the disappointment of some very good friends who love to celebrate birthdays and me.

Rafi And Klee On YouTube… He’s SO OLD!

This year is going to be slightly different. I’m having a party.

Well, February 1st will be my birthday bash… February 5th, I’ll be relaxing and doing nothing, so it’s a win-win for everyone.

I decided that the birthday party would be a fun art-stravaganza thing where Klee and I could show our latest art and jewelry, and have some really cool art reveals. We also picked a location that is eclectic and just plain awesome! Dolce & Gelato is such an amazing place full of unique personality and fun.

GO TO FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE

Klee and I got working on an awesome jewelry display steamer trunk for her and I created a sculpture for our big reveal which I am hoping will blow you away.

Awesome showcase for bash
Sculpture for bash

There will be music by Greg Bond, drinks can be purchased at Dolce & Gelato along with tasty snacks, and right next store is East Hill Pizza for amazing pizza!

I do not require any gifts, just you, your smile, and be prepared to have a good time! Klee and I will mostly be hanging out, listening to good music, and having amazing conversations with you.

What: Rafi’s Artstravaganza Birthday Bash

Where: Dolce And Gelato – 2050 N 12th Ave, Pensacola, FL 32503

When: February 1st, 4pm-8pm

Why: Because it’s going to be AWESOME!

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Forget The New Year’s Resolutions

January is here and it is the beginning of 2020. This is the time of year where fad diets and hard to keep promises become a way of eventually disappointing yourself. We start to think of New Year’s resolutions and how this year is going to be different. Instead of buying a thighmaster and adding more stress to your life by adding 10 impossible goals that you don’t really want, start off with small things you can do right now. These ten lifestyle changes may be small, but they have changed my life.

Rafi Perez Painting Explorer

Create A New Tradition Of Gratitude. Create a spot in your home where you can sit every morning and spend 5 minutes in appreciation for yourself and whatever you love in life. Make it your gratitude retreat nook. This morning ritual will cause your brain to be on the lookout for the beauty of nature, friendship, love, laughter and anything else in life that you enjoy. Many of us are not used to taking any amount of time during the day to feel good on purpose… Just five minutes a day will change your world.

Free Yourself Of Clutter. Papers, old mail, instruction manuals, and receipts can clutter all the catch-all spots around your house. Take just 10 minutes a day to work on straightening up your paperwork, and throw away things that you don’t need. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish and how clutter-free your mind will become. Our physical space is the perfect reflection of what is happening in our mind; if your space is cluttered in any way, your head will be cluttered as well. 

3 Little Birds Art By Rafi

At Least One I Love You A Week. Tell one person each week that you love them. It’s easy to forget to tell people that we care about them. When we forget to express love we can get preoccupied with other things and that will become our habit. Reignite the habit of love. 

Get A Plant. Not only will it bring you better air quality, but nurturing a plant will do things for you emotionally that are phenomenal. Oh yeah, make sure you talk to your plant often. They love that.

Smile. Make it a point to smile and enjoy this year by enjoying each day fully. Right now you are reading this. As you read this, what do your surroundings sound like? Look up, what do you see? How does the air feel on your skin? What is the taste in your mouth? Is there a subtle static in the air? Does it feel thick, or light and airy?

That’s called stopping, now smell the roses, by giving this moment a big smile. If you have a hard time smiling, just remember that we think you are awesome.

-Rafi

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Lucky To Be An Artist?

Some people look at my life and say that I am lucky. I create art for a living, have a successful studio business, am married to my best friend, and have a large following of fans and art collectors from all around the world. I really love the work that I do, and I spend a lot of time feeling ridiculously fortunate to be in that position.

As much as some people like to say that I’m lucky, luck had nothing to do with it.

I do believe that sometimes timing, circumstance, serendipity, and privilege play into the choices you make, but even then, your deliberate action determines the course of your life.

People don’t get to do what they want for a living, get awards, come out in newspapers, or get the things they want in life simply because they are lucky. I feel like it is insulting to tell someone they are lucky when they achieve something awesome in life. Luck rarely has anything to do with what actually goes on behind the scenes.

I personally get inspired by stories of long rejection runs. For example the story of Haim Saban, who spent 8 years pitching Power Rangers. Whenever Saban presented the Power Rangers pilot, network execs would ask, “Why do you embarrass yourself with this?” Eventually, someone picked it up and the Power Rangers has been a tremendous success for 30 plus years.

  • J.K. Rowling was rejected by about 12 different publishers.
  • After just one performance, Elvis Presley was fired by Jimmy Denny, and told, “You ain’t going nowhere, son. You ought to go back to driving a truck.”
  • Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, was rejected 30 times before it was published.
  • Steven Spielberg was rejected by the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film, and Television, THREE TIMES.

Rejection has everything to do with opinion and nothing to do with fact. Power Rangers was rejected by networks because it looked cheap and there was nothing else like it out there to compare it to. They could not SEE beyond the scope of what they knew and based their rejection on popular opinion. Rejection is simply an opinion based on the limit of that particular person’s imagination, or they just don’t like your particular brand of stuff, either way, rejection is all part of the game.

Most times, the success that you see is just the tip of the iceberg. What you see accomplished is only a tiny proportion of what that “lucky” person TRIED to accomplish.

If by “luck”, you mean putting yourself out there — all the time — into situations where you are probably going to be rejected, fail, or make a fool of yourself, then yes… you are on the right track.

A lot of people ask me how I got to where I am in life. As if there is some secret formula or answer to getting lucky. Usually, I tell them, “The hard way.” I honestly don’t feel like it is supposed to be easy, I think the suck is all part of the journey and what makes it so beautiful.

To illustrate what I mean, here’s a list of just some of the things I have been rejected for over the last 10 years. See if you can find the inspiration behind the rejection or failure.

  • I was rejected the first time I entered a juried gallery show.
  • Launching my art career was a failure for 2 years.
  • I was rejected for at least 143 commission projects.
  • I was rejected from the first gallery I approached.
  • I failed at launching a YouTube channel for about 5 years in a row.
  • I was rejected the first time I applied for a juried art festival.
  • I failed at traveling the country, still have several states to go.
  • I was rejected the second time I entered a gallery show.
  • My first 4 websites were epic failures.
  • I’ve been rejected for large community art events.
  • I’ve had at least 19 large art proposals rejected.
  • I’ve been rejected from art conferences when pitching as a speaker, I would put the number close to 60.
  • I have been rejected by many award judges. I’ve won 5 out of 500.
  • I failed epically the first time I showed my art at my own event.
  • I have been rejected by at least 200 businesses that I have approached with my art.
  • I was rejected by a museum for a proposal for an art and music event.
  • I’ve had countless art that has been rejected.
  • I’ve had countless art failures, just about every day.
  • I was rejected when I tried to talk to people at a black-tie event (one dude even turned his nose up at me).
  • I’ve been rejected by art cliques who don’t like that I’m from out of town.
  • I was rejected when I applied for Twitter verified (I know how ridiculous this makes me sound).
  • I am rejected most days by commentators on YouTube who don’t like my BRILLIANT videos.
  • I have been rejected by art associations who think my work is sub-par.
  • I have been rejected by many collectors when I show new forms of work.
  • I have been rejected for several large mural proposals.
  • I have been rejected for large international commissions.
  • I have had my ideas rejected by people who are in charge of an art event.

Each one of these was a blow, and that’s not even the full list, we’d be here ALL day.

Being rejected or failing is shit. It’s hard not to take it personally, and to keep going when it feels like a consistent barrage of ‘nope’ and ‘EPIC FAILS’.

But the only way to do the awesome stuff is to put yourself out there. To put yourself in a place where you might get rejected, constantly. To be in a place where you might fail big.

Everything doesn’t always come up roses, and I am not told yes every time I want to do something. That is ridiculous. It is also ridiculous to quit just because you failed, or get your feelings hurt because you were rejected. That’s why I keep going — ALL the time. I apply for things, I try things, I put myself out there. I make a huge effort to go for almost everything that piques my interest and pushes at my comfort zones.

Rafi Perez Painting Seed

I’ve been at this for 10 years and can tell you that it takes time to get to a place where you will have people call you “lucky”. Years upon years of rejection and failures that don’t ever end. Sometimes it will feel overwhelming, and you’ll have to become your biggest cheerleader to get through. But that is how you get there, you just have to do it and quit stalling to avoid failure and rejection.

Success means that you failed and were rejected more than anyone else. Growth means that you will always be facing rejection and failure throughout your career. If you are not, then you are not growing.

I’m not going to tell you to learn to love rejection because it really sucks. I will say, however, if you aren’t getting rejected every now and again, then you’re not putting yourself out there and you are not being as awesome as you can be.

Only awesome people know the sting of rejection and embrace it.

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Could The Real Art World Please Stand Up?

Today Klee and I were talking about the art stock market on our podcast. That’s the name we coined for the big-ticket commodities art market that you see blasted all over the news and in documentaries. Considering the amount of press that gets focused on large art auctions and big-name galleries, it’s easy to think that you are not actually an artist until you’ve somehow made it there.

It got me thinking about the way that people perceive the art world in general. When you think about it, what people call the art market in the media, is only about 1% of the actual art market. There is no mention of the everyday people that make up the art market, the real art market, the real world.

The real art world is made up of one-on-one interactions, and I think we forget that sometimes in this media blasted quick paced world. It’s not about how much money the art sold for, or how wealthy the collector is, or how much prestige the sale brought the artist. Honestly, the corporate companies I worked for would print out prestige in the form of “You did real good.” certificates, and I would put them in cheap frames and hang them on my wall as a symbol of how important I was. I feel like we miss the point when we confuse success with awards and accolades. You can add them to your resume, but I feel like we’ve lost the point of what it is all about.

It’s about the friendships developed, and the relationships we establish as artists, with the people that connect with us through the art we create. It’s about the creative process and the astonishing ability to face rejection every day and share your art with the world. It is about the collector who proudly displays your artwork on their wall, or wears it on their body, or listens to it in their car. It is about that connection that would not have been possible if that individual artist did not break through the barriers of fear and share their creations with the world. It would not have been possible without the vast amount of humans out there who buy art because of the value it has to them, not because it has market value.

As an artist who had to make his own way, I have trained myself to see the world quite differently than I used to. Where I once had hopelessness in an impossible art career system, I now see the opportunities, the misdirections to be avoided, and the hope for everyone to pursue their creative spirit.

I think it is easy to forget in this world that is so focused on money and success, that we artists create because of the love of creation. We create to express ourselves and bring back a childlike sense of imagination, wonder, and feeling into our world. Creations that can remind us all to pause and appreciate.

Just food for thought.

I also wanted to announce that my book is fully funded! Thank you all so much! The Rogue Artist’s Survival Guide is becoming a reality. I am going quiet for a couple of weeks on social media and YouTube as I finish up the book and do some final edits. You can still pre-order the book at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-rogue-artist-s-survival-guide-by-rafi-perez

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Stop Making Excuses: 10 Excuses I Made And Why

Back in the day, making excuses was like breathing air for me. I had some great ones, in fact they were so good that I didn’t realize I was even making excuses.

With that in mind, let’s break down 10 of the many excuses that I used to make, and tell me if they sound familiar.

Excuse #1: There’s just not enough time…

I still use this one every once in a while. What I found is that when I make this excuse I’m just not feeling enthusiastic. Usually, at the core of this excuse is the fear that I’m not good enough to do the thing that I’m claiming I don’t have the time to do. The moment I feel overwhelmed by lack of time, I can talk myself out of anything. Sometimes it may be something that I genuinely don’t want to do, and in that situation I would rather cancel the project than keep it rattling around in my brain jar. But when it is something you really want to do, but your claim to non-fame is that you don’t have enough time, ever… then I would think twice about that excuse.

In fact, if I look at my behavior in moments of overwhelm, I actually become less productive, which causes there to be less time, and even more overwhelm.

Excuse #2: There’s just not enough money…

I find that no matter how much money I have in the bank, whether it is thousands, or negative somethings these words will blurt out of my mouth. To be honest, I have a weird relationship with money that I have been working on throughout the last few years. I think it is important that we look at our relationship with money because it is either one of two things: a good relationship or a bad one. In other words, if you feel like a victim to green pieces of paper then it’s a bad one. Most of my baggage when it comes to money is partly from poor money mentality in my household when I was growing up, but like most relationships, it is something you can improve once you look a little deeper into yourself.

Excuse #3: I don’t have an education…

This was my number one excuse when it came to pursuing art as a career… well, it was one of many number one excuses. There are numerous multi-millionaires and billionaires who have nothing more than a high school education. Some don’t even have that. Yet, I spent a lot of time in my life wasting my precious brain power believing this gibberish. I’m not knocking education, there’s value in it. If you want to pursue an education, pursue it. If you want to be an excellent brain surgeon, definitely go to school. If you want to sharpen your creative skills by taking classes, by all means… but don’t let an education, or lack thereof, define what you can accomplish with your talents.

Excuse #4: I’m just too old or too young…

I’m old enough to have used both of these excuses… blah blah blah. Right now, it’s the too old excuse. I’m too old to be in a band, I’m too old to do YouTube, I’m to old to make a significant impact in the new generation of humans… blah blah blah. While you may not see me on American Idol anytime soon (they have a no geezer age limit of 28 which I find outdated and discriminatory, but whatevs…) I am most certainly young enough to excel at whatever I gosh darned please, as long as I’m breathing.

Bonus Excuse: I don’t know how…

This is an excuse I rarely use because I am very dogged at figuring stuff out. I am a stubborn figurer-outer. This means I make mistake after mistake after mistake, until I get it. I simply don’t like not knowing how to do something, or being afraid to try. This has, so far, worked out in my favor.

Excuse #6: I just can’t change…

This used to be true for me, I was pretty set in my ways and the words “That’s just who I am!” would spout out of my mouth as an excuse to justify some stupid thing I did. It wasn’t until I started thinking long term, determining whether that’s how I wanted to be and live in ten, twenty years, that I realized perhaps being willing to evolve is to my benefit. When you think about the cycle of stubborn habits repeating time and time again over the course of twenty years, you get a fire under your but to start that change immediately.

Excuse #7: I’m afraid to fail…

I think we get taught this stupid thing in school… “Do everything you can to succeed, failure is the mark of laziness or lack of skill.” I’m sure that might seem like sound logic to those who have never tried to do something that hasn’t been done before. But, if you want to blaze your own trail, you are going to have to fail several times in order to reach anything resembling success. I think we should embrace failure, learn from it, and plan ahead so we know how to use the failure to do it better the next time.

Excuse #8: It’s just not the right time…

Yeah, if these little words pop out of your mouth then you should just swat them down mid-air like a fly, before they reach anyone’s ear holes. I knew a wonderful woman who was in her 90’s that fused the following words into my brain “If not now, when?” and I get it, sometimes it’s just not the right time to take action. However, more often than not this is just a lame excuse.

Excuse #9: I am not ready…

Sometimes you will hear this come from someone who is standing at the edge of a pool, about to jump in and they say “I’m not ready!” when actually they are merely paralyzed by fear. There they are, standing there in their swim suit, the water is good… how much more ready can you get? There’s nothing wrong with planning for the future or taking the time to lay out a clear plan of action. However, if planning is all you do, this could indicate that there might be fears preventing you from moving forward. Understand this and you will overcome your need for over-planning… in due time.

Cracks-In-Reality

Excuse #10: I’m just not inspired…

This is a big one, yet I find that most of the time when these words come out of my mouth it has more to do with laziness than inspiration. I know that’s harsh, but it’s true. Sometimes I’m not inspired because I’m too busy feeling sorry for myself and clogging up my brain circuits with all of the above excuses. Whatever the cause, when this excuse crops up I know it’s time to take a leaf blower to whatever doom cloud is lurking overhead, and start fresh.

Sometimes we get so absorbed in making excuses about how things didn’t turn out the way we had expected, that we forget to focus on making the best of every situation — no matter what the outcome.

So go out and make excuses for how awesome you are. Make excuses for how you have more than enough time, and how it is the right time for you, and how failure is no big deal. You can say and do anything you want, just pay closer attention to the words that come out of the hole in the front of your face.

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Time To Smell The Weeds

Ever felt that there must be more to life? Well, good news, there is! And it’s right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice.

As an artist, I have taken a notice of color and contrast in the world. There are times where a vivid sky or blade of grass will stop me in my tracks, I will take in the color combinations and imagine using them to translate into the emotion I’m feeling at that very moment.

I remember at a very difficult time in my life, where everything just seemed wrong and I found myself downward spiraling into despair, that hope came from a simple place. I was on my way to work, and I felt like breaking down. I pulled over and despite running late, decided to sit down at a park bench.

There I saw people walking their dogs, playing with kids, and relaxing. This was a stark contrast to my mood, and actually caused me to feel more bitter. Suddenly, a sad little weed caught my eye, it was the way the sun was casting a shadow that almost made it seem to glow. It was this ugly, little, insignificant weed, and it was glowing brighter and more vivid than anything else in that park. Suddenly, I couldn’t hold back the tears.

I sat there, me and my new glowing friend, for quite some time. I turned off my phone, and just sat there, and took everything in… This time, without judging what I was looking at through a filter of misery.

For the first time in probably my whole life, I just sat there and took everything in. I wasn’t thinking or worried about the future and I wasn’t dwelling in the past… I was just there, in that moment.

That moment changed me forever.

Magic Seasons Trees Textured Original Painting by artist Rafi Perez on Canvas

Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, so we get more out of the day-to-day.

When do you stop and take notice?

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Get Annoyed Or Laugh More

As artists, we can sometimes be stereotyped as serious and tortured. Which is hilarious to me because, in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. That being said, it’s easy to get in the habit of being in the semi funk seriousness of being an adult artist.

Sometimes you have to stop what you are doing and ask yourself- When was the last time you burst into a gut hurting laugh? I have a friend who laughs so much and so loud that she leaves a memorable experience for anyone within earshot. I think that is amazing, her laughter leaves a positive impact on people and probably annoys all the curmudgeons within a ten mile radius.

The Happy Art Tour THAT

Sure, it’s fun to share a good laugh. But did you know it can actually improve your health? It’s true: laughter is strong medicine. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body.

Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress.

As children, we used to laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults, life tends to be more serious and laughter more infrequent. As an artist, I tend to hold on to that childlike instinct to use my imagination, but sometimes I hold back from just letting out a good belly roll.

There are ways to get your laughter back, if you have temporarily lost it.

Find things to laugh at daily, whether it be putting on your favorite comedy while eating dinner, reading funny comments, or just playing music and dancing goofy dances. You might even consider laughing for the sake of laughing, as a change in your body affects your brain chemistry, which ultimately affects your mood.

Laugh and you will find yourself actually feeling better, even if you have been a sourbutt for the last few hours. This is why it’s important to surround yourself with positive, upbeat people.

Our photo shoots are very serious

By the way, if laughing annoys you, that’s when you know, you need to laugh more.

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Guiding Star And Butterfly Warrior

We have been busy in the studio and have some awesome pieces that we want to share with you. Enjoy!


Rustic Sterling Silver Compass Necklace

Rustic Sterling Silver Compass Necklace

This piece for me is all about keeping a “guiding star” talisman close to heart. Something that reminds us of our true north. Whether that’s a person, place, belief, goal, or anything that keeps us growing and moving forward on our individual journeys, it’s meant to be a small reminder of that. I personally like to wear jewelry that helps me stay focused on what’s important to me and what’s true for me.

I wanted it to have a very rustic old world feeling about it, as though it’s a piece of bullion or an ancient compass artifact. I felt it was important to acknowledge the human history of journey and self discovery, and I also wanted it, for the wearer, to feel as though it was always there with them and always would be there, as a steady and steadfast companion. -Klee

Butterfly Warrior Original Painting Art By Artist Rafi Perez Mixed Medium on Canvas 18X24

Butterfly Warrior

This piece symbolizes the two sides of empowerment. The fierce and tender nature of someone who takes fate and destiny into their own hands. The butterfly symbolizes cause and effect. The sword symbolizes the knowledge that she can overcome any obstacle that is in her way.

In my mind it is important to maintain that balance. To know that you are truly powerful, you understand that it is all about giving. One who has true power, will always defend and show love. Powerlessness and insecurity is where displays of power come in. -Rafi

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Always Keep Your Eyes Open

Rafi And Klee Studios

It can be easy to rush through life without stopping to notice much. I knew a guy who had a bed of flowers in front of his house and when I asked him about them he asked “What flowers?”

Paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your sense of well being and happiness.

Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. I like to call it “Open your eyes, yo!”

You may think about happiness in terms of what you have: your income, home or car, or your job. Research shows that what we do and the way we think have the biggest impact on our happiness and well being.

Becoming more aware of the present moment means noticing the sights, smells, sounds and tastes that you experience, as well as the thoughts and feelings that occur from one moment to the next.

Just think about it.