Happiness Is An Empty Chocolate Wrapper

Have you ever looked around at the expression that people make when they aren’t putting on a happy face? I believe it’s called “resting bitch face.” In my opinion, this is what happens whenever you aren’t feeling happy or confident and you try to fake it.

I’m not sure what face I’m making here

I know you’ve heard the saying “fake it ’til you make it”, and I’m sure there are times where that comes in handy. I know I’ve used that philosophy before, but when it comes to happiness, I feel like there is an extra ingredient that needs to be added.

Understanding that happiness is a choice. You have to genuinely understand that you choose in that moment to be happy or not, despite what is going on around you.

It’s like a wrapper of dove chocolate with its little motivational sayings. At that moment you can see it as something that you enjoyed in the past, but is now gone forever. You also have the option to appreciate the experience you had of chocolate sweetness, and the extra little token of love written on the wrapper. It’s your choice to make, and one makes you happy and the other may make you sad. Just like you can be happy about this bad analogy or upset that I just wasted a few seconds of your life.

Happiness is being lost but still choosing to be good spirits

Happiness really is a choice you have to make. Many of us get it wrong: We think that happiness is a byproduct of something good happening to us, success, be it a high-paying job, a successful business, raising a family, or achieving a goal.

Ever heard of this old song?

If I have the money, then I will do the things I want. Finally, I will be happy.

Yet, dissatisfaction and sadness often keep us from doing the things we want. We lack the enthusiasm and the vigor to do those things in the first place, because we think we are not happy. That can be exhausting.

I like to say to myself, I will decide to be happy now. Then I will do the things I want and be happy about it.

I still remember the excitement and ah-ha moment when I first discovered this. I thought about it for days afterwards, I contemplated it, in fact I still do. It has had such a large and profound impact on my life that I still talk about it, even after a decade.

Be The Change You Want To See In The World.

Rafi And Klee Studios

Gandhi said “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”

I think this statement says a lot to explain how changing my perspective had a huge impact on the way I see the world, and in return the way that the world sees me.

I used to have a very negative and cynical point of view, I wasn’t a joy to be around. Mostly I behaved this way because I felt unhappy, isolated, lonely, and out of control. It was after a life altering experience that I realized that all these feelings are just feelings. Just because I’m feeling it, doesn’t mean that I have to buy into the belief or reaction that is causing it. Ultimately, I realized that I could choose to respond to things vs react.

This small shift changed my world. Once I changed, my world changed.

What does his statement mean to you?

Reasons I Feel Gratitude As An Artist

Gratitude may be one of the most overlooked tools that we all have access to every day. Cultivating gratitude doesn’t cost any money and it certainly doesn’t take much time, but the benefits are enormous. I’m not kidding, people that are way smarter than I am research this stuff.

The Happy Art Tour THAT

Like Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.

I practice feeling grateful, and before you start rolling your eyes, and think I’m talking about some secret or something, I’m not. Practicing gratitude simply means you make it a habit to appreciate what you have instead of being so focused on what is missing. Listen, if you are reading this right now on a computer or a phone, then you have something to be grateful for.

Practicing gratitude allows you to focus on what is good in your life, and if you have a hard time doing that, it is a clear indicator that you are too focused on garbage… just sayin.

There are so many things I can be grateful for, running water, hot water, a flushing toilet, clippers for my rambunctious nose hair, the air I breathe, anything. When it comes to my art career, I have certain things that I am grateful for. I think if you can’t find things to be grateful for in your career, then it might be time to change things up.

Rafi and Klee Traveling

I remind myself of these simple facts:

You’re always able to express your creativity.

You are doing work that you actually believe in.

Being your own boss and not having to answer to anyone else in what you create.

Being able to put paint on canvas anytime you want.

Seeing that what you’ve done has made someone happy.

Giving other people a new perspective.

Living the life that you want to live.

Creating art for yourself and no one else.

Blue Phoenix By Rafi Perez

Deciding that it is time for something beautiful and surprising to come to life.

You get to see how you progress as an artist.

Living in a world where everything is an idea or possibility for new art.

Endlessly being able to learn and grow.

You have the potential to be famous for something you make.

Getting to play around all day in your studio.

Sharing your creations with amazing like minded people.

2 Birds On A Wire By Rafi Perez

Experiencing the flow of creativity.

Being able to move people intellectually or emotionally through something you’ve made.

Making money from something you’ve made.

The pride and sense of accomplishment after you’ve finished a great painting, sketch, sculpture or installation.

You get to share your art with the world.

Seeing your art touch someone’s soul.

Getting to be part of an exclusive community of creative people.

How could I not be on top of the world after telling myself all of that?! Go ahead try it yourself!

-Rafi

Being Happy Is A Creative Job

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s the beginning of a new year, maybe it’s because I’ve been feeling under the weather the last couple weeks, or maybe it is because its been gloomy all day, but I’ve been thinking about happiness.

Rafi and Klee Nerds

I figured that happiness is all about creativity. What I mean is you create your own happiness. You can’t really find it in your pocket or in the glove box. So, here are the Three things I came up with today that allow me to be happy. I figured I would share, and see if you can enjoy them as well.

Define Happiness.

Come up with your own definition of what it means to be happy. Make sure it is your definition. I like this one, I borrow it from time to time.

Rafi Talking About Philosophy and Art

Happiness is being the creator of your experience, choosing to take pleasure in what you have, right now, regardless of the circumstances, while being the best you that you can be.

~Alex Shalman

Appreciate Now.

Whenever I’m in the moment, and I’m really present to what I’m feeling, seeing, hearing, or doing, I allow myself to experience a sense of euphoria. It isn’t often that in our fast paced society we are able to stop ourselves from thinking about the future, or dwelling over the past, so a nice dose of now is a refreshing change.

Rafi With Klee Art

Don’t Become, Just Be.

If you’re constantly thinking into some future where you can be happy, you’ll be in the habit of trying to be happy. If you are trying to do happy, you aren’t doing it, you’re just trying. Instead, if you just become happy with your current situation, you can be happy any time and place.

Rafi and Klee Art

When you’re working on being happy, you are the type of person that created the possibility that you are not currently happy.

~Roger Smith

And that’s it… I know that hardly covers what it takes to be happy, but it is definitely a start… Besides, I have art to create. 🙂

#NationalSmileDay

As some of you know, I am a big supporter of smiling. In fact I’m all about inspiring a smile where ever I go with my #inspireasmile campaign.

Right now, you are either nodding your head or rolling your eyes, but do you know why smiling is so important? Let’s break it down.

Rafi and Klee Photography
Klee Smiling

Obviously, smiling has well-documented social benefits, you aren’t going to be invited to many parties if you constantly wear resting-bitch-face. A genuine smile and positive attitude can make you seem more likable, attractive, intelligent, trustworthy or outgoing.

But did you know that smiling more often—regardless of your mood—can improve your health and help you live longer?

1. Improved Mood
Smiling can boost your mood when you’re feeling blue, and may be beneficial for people struggling with anxiety and depression. A 2010 study found that making yourself smile when you’re feeling down helps improve your mood and increases positive thoughts. So, if you’re having a bad day, try smiling anyway—it may lead to a genuine smile and lift your spirits.

Recycled Art By Rafi Perez
Recycled Art By Rafi Perez

2. Lower Blood Pressure
Smiling and laughing more appear to help lower your blood pressure, which is good news for your heart health. A 2009 review explains that laughter causes an initial increase in heart rate, followed by a period of muscle relaxation and a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure, which helps reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

3. Stress Relief
Did you know that smiling more often, whether you’re feeling happy or not, helps your body deal with stressful situations more effectively? A 2015 study published in Psychological Science found that smiling can result in a lower heart rate during stressful tasks. Stress generally causes increases in heart rate and blood pressure. So, maintaining a smile when stressed provides you with both psychological and physical health benefits.

Rafi-Perez

4. Better Relationships
Have you noticed that you’re drawn to people who smile a lot? People who smile are perceived as being more likable than people who don’t smile, according to one 2014 study. Being likable makes it easier to build and maintain better relationships with people, which is important for your overall health and well-being. A 2010 study found that people with positive emotions have more stable marriages and better interpersonal skills than people with negative emotions. So, keep a smile on your face to help create stronger, healthier social bonds.

5. Stronger Immune Function
Believe it or not, laughter (which often begins with a smile) appears to help boost your body’s immune system. Mayo Clinic reports that laughter and positive thoughts release signaling molecules in your brain that fight stress and illnesses, while negative thoughts decrease your body’s immunity. One 2015 study found that laughter therapy increases immune responses in women who have just had babies. So, maybe laughter really is the best medicine.

rafi-perez-art-show-28

6. Pain Relief
Pain relief might be the last thing you’d associate with smiling and laughter, but there are, indeed, links. Mayo Clinic reports that laughter causes your body to release its own natural painkillers. And a 2012 study found that social laughter increases your pain threshold, creating a higher pain tolerance. So, if you’re in pain due to an injury, illness or chronic disease, watch a funny movie, attend a comedy show or hang out with friends and family who make you smile.

7. Longer Life
It turns out that the fountain of youth might be right under your nose. A 2010 study found that smiling and positive emotions are associated with increased life spans. Talk about a reason to smile!

So, Happy National Smile Day!! Go ahead and give us a smile!

Thank you   for this list. 

Be The Light For Empowering Minds

I talk a lot about ways to empower yourself and investigate some of the patterns we play out in our minds that may cause us to feel like victims. To determine whether or not I am feeling powerful, I ask myself whether a situation, circumstance, or person makes me feel like a victim, or do I feel empowered.

She had her own world (2)

Anything that causes you to feel like you don’t have control over your emotions is a sense of victimhood. I don’t mean expressing those emotions, you can sit down to have a good cry because you know it will make you feel better, that’s empowered crying.

A good way to feel empowered and happy is to spread it like a contagion into the world. I do it through art, but I also have a few weapons in my arsenal against feeling like a victim.

Never-Fear-Shadows-9

1. Smile at people.

It’s amazing to me how powerful a smile can be.

2. Be positive.

Be conscious about your words and actions so that you can be a positive force, rather than, you know, a drag.

Be-The-Glow-3

3. Give genuine compliments.

I’m a firm believer in saying what you mean, when you want to say it. That means being genuine. What is interesting is that a lot of people assume that being genuine means being mean, but I find that when you are truly genuine with yourself and others, everything is infused with love.

4. Encourage creation.

Themed movie nights, to adventure walks, to art parties. Encourage yourself and others to have creative fun.

Never-Fear-Shadows-8

 

5. Live outside your comfort zone.

It’s contagious.

6. LOVE real big. QUESTION everything.

In every given moment there is an opportunity to fear, judge, or love. We sometimes have to seriously question our own beliefs and where they came from in order to get to love. The thing is, the more you love yourself, the more you can love the world… So start by questioning beliefs about yourself.

Become A Butterfly 1

Being an agent of positive change in this world is a label that I’ve proudly given myself. I ask that you also wear it wisely and wear it well. It takes real determination and commitment, but it brings color and wonder back into the world.

A Letter To Myself In A Moment Of Darkness vs Light

I wanted to let you guys in on a process that I do when I’m feeling overwhelmed or dark. I write a letter to myself and then respond from a different point of view. This isn’t something that someone typically shares with folks, but I know I’m not typical, so here it is.

Warning, you may read things that concern you, don’t worry, I’m fine, this is just a way to get the feelings out in their rawest form.

“Dear self,

This week has been a tough week for me. I’ve been wading through an emotional cesspool of insecurities and old painful memories. As a result my environment has lost some of it’s vibrant color. I am walking around in a world that I recognize, yet haven’t visited in a long time. It is a dark grey world in which the sunlight is nonexistent. For a person such as myself, an artist who thrives on vibrant colors and light, this is what I imagine hell would feel like.

Rafi Stressed

It’s interesting to me that when your mind takes you to a dark place, it seems like the entire world has conspired against you. It’s like you’re in a movie and the set design is based on the overall feeling of the main character. You watch yourself on the silver screen of life following an old dramatic script that you have rehearsed so many times that it seems like it all comes so naturally. You are the main character, yet no one else is experiencing what you are experiencing, feeling isolated and alone, surrounded by smiling faces, yet totally by yourself.

So, my question is this, what do I do now?”

Rafi in a messy art studio

After a short pause… I read the letter, take a deep breath and respond as best I can.

“Dear Dramatic Self,

Good question! Well, you get off your ass and out of your head. Listen, I understand that sometimes shit happens. You are going through a point in your life that might be transitional. Maybe you feel like you lost a sense of direction, maybe you are going through something emotionally taxing, maybe some button got pushed that hasn’t been pushed for a long time, maybe things just suck right now. No matter what it is, you have every excuse to feel the way you do, but that’s the thing, they’re just excuses.

In my opinion, things that people call emotionally chronic are simply practiced. You’ve spent years practicing how to be dramatic and respond to certain thoughts or situations in a certain way. That dramatic script you mentioned is a real thing, people can follow the same script over and over in their lives without even wondering if they can change it. They can feel like their thoughts are thinking them, instead of them thinking their thoughts. 

Do What You Can Rafi Perez

You find yourself in a rut and what do you do? You sit, slump, cry, withdraw, and replay events over and over in your mind, and repeat. You find something or someone to blame for what you are feeling. Maybe you even pull yourself momentarily out of your funk by putting all your energy into being angry at this person or situation. Yet, nothing changes, this just keeps replaying over and over in your life. So much so, that you think this is just the way it is, “this is my life”.

You believe your story, you shape the world after your story, and discount anything that challenges that story. The story has to be true, if it wasn’t true, then it means you are torturing yourself for nothing.

Well, guess what? It is true. It’s true because you think it’s true, and your brilliant mind is going to do everything in it’s power to make it the truest thing you have ever experienced. Your doubt is going to punch you in the face, your insecurities about yourself are going to knock you down, your judgments and fear about people will come true, and everything you surround yourself with will be a constant reminder of your misery and fear. 

Rafi Perez

Do you know what else is true? That your courage will destroy anything doubt can throw at you. Your determination will pick you up when you fall, stronger and better equipped than ever before. Your hope and unconditional love will present itself to you in overwhelming love and kindness, and everything around you will glow with vibrancy and light, this being a constant reminder of your sense of optimism and hope.

It’s ALL true… Every last bit. The question isn’t who is right or wrong, or what is true or untrue, or what you should or should not do… but simply, what would you rather do? How would you rather feel? What would you rather think? What do you want to focus on? Who do you want to be? And what do you want to believe, right now… in this moment?

Office Decorated By Rafi Perez

We don’t carry feelings in our pocket, or find them in a box buried somewhere. We produce those feelings based on our perspectives and beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. You can believe what ever it is you want to believe about yourself and what is possible for you, and you can do that right now.

Honestly, this moment is all we really ever have, this moment, right now. So make a choice, despite the script you have been rehearsing all your life. Just make a choice.

Now quit whining and pick yourself up like the awesome person I know you to be.

With Much Love, -Rafi”

And that’s it! Welcome to my world of crazy 🙂

 

 

 

 

This Moment Is An Opportunity

As this week comes to a close, I look around my messy studio and ponder the events that lead up to this point. Several projects in their half finished state screaming for my attention, wanting the closure that all artistic creations seek.

Yet, in this myriad of untidy unrest I find myself happy.

Rafi in a messy art studio

Not because of the mess… I’m actually not fond of messes. I feel like your mind is a reflection of your surrounding, so a cluttered mind equals a cluttered house. In my case a holy crap batman studio equals a holy crap batman mind.

I think it’s because this week I was very deliberate about how I spent my time. I looked at every moment as a gift and decided to spend it doing something meaningful.

Rafi in a messy art studio

Now, I have a lot of projects that I’m working on, such as artworks, pieces for the art hunt, videos, planing an exhibition, so you would think my time is always pretty deliberate… but it’s not.

Recently, I had gotten in the habit of sitting on my couch in the studio and vegging out. Like full on, staring at nothing for who knows how long, minus the drool… that’s gross.

I realized that during that time, I wasn’t thinking about what I was thinking. I was just thinking random things and not necessarily noticing what I was thinking. It wasn’t good things either, I was complaining to myself about things and not even noticing that I was complaining.

Rafi in a messy art studio

So, I decided to pay attention, I was going to think about the things that I decided to think about, not just random happenstance.

And so, when I looked around today, I saw passion and a sense of love for what I do. I felt full… much better than sitting there mindlessly wondering what I would do if I was fighting a zombie dressed as a clown… Not that I wouldn’t take an opportunity to think about it, but it’s so much cooler when you do it deliberately.

So, what’s on your mind?

 

The Substance Of Reality And Balloons

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

Recently I created a painting titled “The Substance Of The Real.” It shows a rather stoic, old century style, statue of a man struggling to hold on to a big red balloon on a string.

The statement for this piece is as follows:

 ABOUT THIS PAINTING
So many things that we hold near and dear… thoughts, beliefs, or habits, we hardly ever question. Yet, many of those hold no substance. This piece is meant to be a daily reminder to question everything, to look closely at your own motivations, and to determine what is true for you… Not to ferociously hold on to something that you don’t quite understand. 

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez
Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

Now, I wanted to clarify something about this piece and my belief in what is real in the world. I know that a lot of spiritual beliefs state that the world is an illusion, and a lot of people will be surprised to hear that I don’t believe that.

I do believe that we live in a delusion… I know, let me explain.

I don’t believe that the world is unreal in of itself. It becomes an illusion when we look at it. We look at the world through our filter of understanding, through the eyes of our knowledge, understanding, prejudices, judgments, love, ideas, opinions, and current circumstances.

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez
Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

That world is unreal in the same way that a dream is unreal, because it’s based on delusion. The world is just there minding it’s own business, open for interpretation, it is our interpretation that is the illusion, and thus the way we see the world is an illusion based on our own beliefs.

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez
Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

You take two people to see a symphony, they sit in similar seats, have the same physical experience, and yet they will have a completely unique experience. One person tells you it was terrible, the other will say it was amazing… who’s right? who’s wrong?

Whoever you agree with the most will be right, and the other person will be wrong.

I like the idea of questioning the whole delusion… Cause, you know, I can’t be right ALL the time, and chances are a lot of what I believe has the substance of a red balloon.

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez
Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

In my opinion, you get to choose how you feel about the world, people, politics, religion, love, relationships, anything and everything.

If you ever find yourself repeating some crappy saying that you’ve just never thought about, I suggest you look at that. Where did it come from, some older generation that maybe didn’t have their shit together yet? Maybe an old racist uncle? A victimized mother? A womanizing father? A corrupt grandfather? A jealous aunt? A hypochondriac grandmother? All people that love me, all good people, just screwed up.

I say question everything, remember that the world you see is your delusion, and that you get to decide how you feel about the world you see. You can choose love, and not hold on so vehemently to those beliefs that are outdated.

Why Do I Have A YouTube Channel

Some of you know that Klee and I have a YouTube channel where we talk about life, art, tips for aspiring artists, and other goofy content. We even have a small following that seems to be growing every day.

Rafi and Klee On YouTube

Now anybody that has done any filming and video editing knows how much work goes into producing a well edited short video. If you don’t, it’s a lot of work, like you can hire a team to do it and it would still take time. Considering that I’m pretty much my team with the occasional technical assistance from Klee, it begs the question, why do it?

Rafi and Klee On YouTube
My makeshift solo filming, that’s right, there is no camera man.

Admittedly, I’ve had to ask myself the same question. I mean, I can be creating art instead of videos, and that would make me more of an income than the videos ever will.

But, I just can’t help myself. There is something about the whole creative process that I love. I love the writing, filming, lighting, sound, content, editing, Klee and I bouncing off one another and most of all, I love the creatives who follow us on YouTube.

Rafi and Klee On YouTube

Our 2018 goal is to release 2 videos a week by streamlining the process. Well, that’s the plan at least.

I plan on introducing new segments as we figure out this whole video side of Klee and me. We want to make sure we remain true to ourselves and that what we do in our videos is stuff we truly enjoy, and not something that doesn’t make sense for us.

We also have huge plans in place for art projects this year, from specific pieces to series. Klee’s has also been working on music, and getting the perfect picture.

Rafi and Klee On YouTube

I guess the reason I have a YouTube channel is because just like my paintings and sculptures, it gives me the opportunity to connect to people… And I love people.

I think when you are a creative person, you want to connect with people through your creations… And if you are us, you have a lot of expression coming out of all the places.

(No, that was not a fart reference…)