It was a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon and the light was streaming in the windows of the cozy art studio. A long table was covered in butcher paper and cheese and crackers, frittata and chocolate bars were ready to be consumed. As Tamara and I finished getting the room ready for our workshop, the attendees (all women) began to arrive one by one, ready to challenge themselves to a few hours of personal exploration and discovery.
It was the Happiness Spreadsheet Workshop entitled “Where Creativity and Finance Connect”, and the exercises these women were about to embark on were from my newly published ebook, “The Happiness Spreadsheet.” I asked artist and attorney, Tamara Holland of Bean Up The Nose Art if she would team up with me to lead the “right-brain” creative exercises while I led the more analytical work. I couldn’t think of a better partner and I was fortunate that she enthusiastically agreed to work with me.
What is a Happiness Spreadsheet?
It’s a budgeting tool that guides and inspires the reader to figure out what is most important to them – experiences, things, people, causes, beliefs and goals – and then to apportion their resources (money and time) so that they can bring more of those things into their lives. Most of the women attending the workshop had done budgeting of one kind or another, but no one had ever thought to connect their budget with their values.
For example, if you love travel, what does that say about you? Perhaps that you thrive on adventure, excitement, or unpredictability. If you are a home-body, you may crave stability, safety and familiarity. If you value sustainability, you want to eat foods grown organically and locally or consume less and recycle more. Or if you desire more leisure in your life, you may want to hire more service providers to give yourself more time. Whatever it is, the better you know yourself, the more likely it is you will focus on your happiness triggers and bring more of them into your life. In our busy lives, we often just “do” and don’t spend much time thinking about “why” and then wonder why our lives feel stalled or unsatisfying. Or, we end up spending our scarce resources on things that don’t matter that much to us.
When the ladies were asked why they signed up for the workshop and what they wanted to get out of it, these were some of the replies:
“I’ve been giving a lot of myself to others for a long time now, and I want to focus on myself. I’ve forgotten what I want most out of life.”
“I’m going through some major transitions right now and I want to decide on my next move with thought and care. I thought this workshop would help.”
“As I get older, I find that I want to spend my time and money more consciously and stop frittering it away on things that aren’t that important to me.”
“I spend so much time at work and recovering from work that I don’t think about where I want to spend my time and money. I have the resources, I just don’t know how to best use them.”
I think it was unanimous that the favorite exercise involved painting. Not with a brush but with credit cards! Tamara had each woman sprinkle three large sheets of paper with several colors of paint and then using the edge of a credit card, scrape the paint across the page. This technique created the most wonderful art and then the sheets were used as the base for vision-boards. I can’t think of a better use for a credit card, can you? One of the numbers-based exercises consisted of allocating $2500 amongst a list of different things or experiences – a real-life experience that we all do but perhaps not as consciously as we should.
At the end of the workshop each participant was asked to do a “show and tell” of their vision artwork. This was fun and inspiring. See a few clips below.
Tamara and I are planning our next workshop on June 23rd in San Anselmo, California. If you would like to attend, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Tell me: Just how happy do you want to become?