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My Dad was a prolific painter in his retirement. He created his own atelier, a converted barn adjacent to their house that he accessed through a trap door and ladder. He would spend countless hours absorbed in his work, content with his own company while producing yet another masterpiece.

Unfortunately, I didn’t inherit my Dad’s artistic abilities, though I always enjoyed art at school. When our son gifted me with an art class for my birthday, I was excited and daunted. This could be very embarrassing.

The other thing was that the class was being held outside in a public space.

The day came and my son and I arrived at the location to find 12 easels erected over a small area of dune adjacent to a public path leading down to the beach.
We were instructed to choose which location took our fancy and after a short introduction to painting with acrylics, we were left to our own devices for several hours.

It was a beautiful Spring day. The sun was shining, and the ocean was sparkling. Could I transfer what I could see onto the canvas?

Time dissolved as I was lost in the moment, savouring the experience of trying something new in a magnificent environment. In my oversized apron, standing in front of the easel, I tried to look vaguely like an artist.

When the class ended, I was sad. I wanted to continue, but I was also extremely curious to see what the rest of the participants had created.

A couple of the pictures were outstanding. Clearly, this type of activity must have been something they had done before, but strangely not.

The rest of our pieces were, well, perhaps best classified as naive.
Got to start somewhere!

We went home with our canvases, and I still look at mine from time to time, more to remind me of that lovely day and precious time spent with my son than anything else.

What I learned from that experience included:


  • How important it is to be willing to try out something you have no idea what the outcome will be.

  • I had no expectation of producing anything spectacular, yet others in the group clearly had some hidden talent that morning, which they were able to tap into. You will never know your full potential if you remain locked into doing only those things you are required to do or already know you’re good at.

  • How much I enjoyed immersing myself in the moment rather than worrying if this was going to be good enough.

  • That the first attempt at anything isn’t likely to be great, but I enjoyed the session sufficiently to contemplate attending another class. That hasn’t happened yet, however, I will. I would love to improve at painting, even if holding my own exhibition never materialises.

  • Happiness comes from spending time undertaking activities that bring you joy from your environment and the people you’re with without having to think about all those other distractions related to work and stress.

Have you recently tried something different that took you out of your comfort zone but taught you a couple of life lessons?

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, podcaster, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.