The Art of Being Grateful

Sometimes as an artist, it is easy to focus on your frustration when you compare where you currently are to where you would like to be regarding your art career goals.

If you are like my husband, professional artist John Horejs, you are hard on yourself when you fall short of your production goals, or you don’t get accepted into a gallery you have approached, or when an artwork doesn’t turn out the way you hoped it would, or when a sale falls through.The list of challenges to an artist sometimes seems endless.

As you mentally go through the list of what’s wrong in your life, you fall into a downward spiral that negatively affects your art and your business activities.

Instead of focusing on what didn’t go right, why not try another way to look at the situation.

I found this idea in my daily Early to Rise email this morning:

“A big part of staying positive is perspective, says professor Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania, who developed the technique he refers to as 3 blessings.

This technique has been proven again and again to help people improve their outlook. Seligman explains the 3 blessings technique in his book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being:

Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well. You may use a journal or your computer to write about the events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote. The three things need not be earthshaking in importance (“ My husband picked up my favorite ice cream for dessert on the way home from work today”), but they can be important (“ My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy”).

Next to each positive event, answer the question “Why did this happen?”

Try it!

Start now by sharing 3 things in the comments below that went well today for you and why they went well. Then, continue the practice over the next week and share with us again in seven days.

I think you’ll be amazed at the progress you will see and the added joy you will experience.


About the Author: Elaine Horejs

Elaine has been business manager and head cheerleader for her husband, John Horejs, since he began painting in 1973. In 2008, she came on board as gallery director at Xanadu Gallery in the heart of the Old Town Scottsdale Arts District. Through the years she has encouraged her husband in his art career, and has also coached other artists to maximize their art businesses. Hundreds of artists have attended Elaine’s workshop “Insider Secrets of a Successful Art Career.” Her new book by the same title is due to be released in the fall of 2014.


  1. Yes, I am grateful that I have eyes to see the beauty of this world. I am grateful to hear the laughter of small children as they play outside our home. I am grateful that I can walk over to my neighbors home and give them veggies and fruits from my garden. I am grateful that I have hands that allow me to hold my grandchildrens’ face near to mine. I am grateful that I have a mouth to say my evening prayers to my Glorious Holy Father. I am grateful that I live in these times so that I can have modern conveniences so that I can, also, include my art work into my life. I am grateful for all my years on this earth to date that I have been given. I am grateful for good health. I am grateful for my body so that I can move my body into a yoga pose. I am grateful that my ancestors were born in the USA. I am grateful that I have a brain that allows me to make life decisions. I am grateful that I was allowed go to an university to earn my diploma. I am grateful for the people who love me and to God for providing me with many friends. I am grateful for the Universe so that I may gaze at the sun, moon, and all the stars at night from my home. I am grateful for the people who work hard in the open fields that seed, hoe, and gather and other foods for our table. I am grateful for the love of my husband, children and all their families. I am grateful for our sweet pet that loves us back, just because. I am grateful for my Mother, brother, and sister. I am grateful that we continue to be interested in life and its gifts. I am grateful that I found Jason Horejs’ Facebook page so that I can post what I am thankful for today.

  2. Hello Elaine,
    Thanks for this great article. I’ll share a few thoughts with you: first, I am surprised to notice that your husband and I started seriously painting at about the same time. ( In 1974, with my fourth son still a newborn in my arms, I knew, “it’s now or never”), and, like your husband (and every other artist) I discovered the endless variations of frustrations that come with the “job”. I have also been a fan of Martin Seligman for many years. I haven’t read Flourish yet, (but I will and thank you for bringing it to my attention.) And you made me think of something I read recently – the only time you lose is when you give up before you win.
    You asked your readers to share three things they are grateful for, so here are mine:
    1.) This article – you have given me much to think about.
    2.) I casually posted a painting on FB, something I had done in a very rough energetic style and received a surprisingly enthusiastic response, which, I’ll admit, feels good
    and 3.) Since you mentioned it, I have to agree, any day with ice cream is a good day 😉

    ps. What is “Early to Rise”?

    1. Hi, Anne,
      Thanks for your insights, and for sharing your three gratitude items! Ice cream is good :-), and congrats on the wonderful response to your art on FB.

      “Early to Rise” is a website with great ideas for your health, wealth, and relationships. You can sign up to receive daily essays on a variety of topics by a number of authors. It’s rare that I don’t get an idea from ETR that is helpful to our business and my life.

  3. Thanks I really needed that thought. The last few years have been tough on the arts. I started with five gallery’s and I am down to one. They are in Salt Lake and they are talking about closing. I have been taking your sons class on line and he has brought out some interesting points. Your book will be interesting to read when it comes out. How is your husband doing with his art?

    1. Hi, Becky,
      Thanks for your comments. It has been an interesting ride the past few years. Both the internet and the economy have definitely affected sales in the art world.

      Some of the galleries John has worked with over the years have closed, but we’ve been blessed to pick up new great galleries in different markets. Although we had a couple of down years, last year John’s sales exceeded pre-2007 times. Having a network of galleries in different areas of the country helps keep cash flow more consistent.

      It’s important to focus on your vision of what you want to have happen, and not get discouraged (Staying in an attitude of gratitude helps.) We’re glad you’re enjoying Jason’s e-course. The ideas and strategies can inspire new ideas that will help you establish an even stronger presence in the world of art. Keep us posted!

  4. I am greatful for having a wonderful wife and family, I am greatful for the ability to create art using a medium that isn’t normally used and for finding new ways to use it.
    I am greatful for all the teachers I’ve had in my life and to those I’ve yet to meet.

    1. Hi, Robert,
      It sounds like you have a wonderful life, and are focusing on the things that matter most. Awesome!

  5. Thank you Elaine. This is a very encouraging blog for me. Since it is still early, I will begin my journal of what went right with yesterday.

    I’m grateful for my friend who encourages me and invites me to paint outside every Monday.
    Im grateful for painting two small paintings without hesitation or fear before lunch.
    I’m grateful for my loving husband who encourages me to paint.

    Why? Because yesterday I remembered that I am not in control of everything that happens in my life, God is. My job is to just be the best I can be and do the best work I can.

    Thank you again, Elaine. Because of your words, I could have written a much longer list. But for now, I’ll just eat my Cheerios and strawberries, and smile.

    1. Hi, Linda,
      Thanks for sharing such a sweet perspective. What a great way to start the day–I know you brightened mine!

  6. Thanks Elaine for your wisdom. When I am grateful I see more to be grateful for. It’s for my good to focus on God because all things are beautiful with Him. Focus on the fruits.

    1. Dear Lori,
      You are such an inspiration to me. And you are so right–what we focus on expands. Thanks for sharing with us all!

  7. I started posting five things I’m grateful for every morning on my Facebook page about two weeks before my mother died (a total of about a month of gratitude lists so far). I cannot begin to tell you how posting those lists first thing in the morning helped me make it through this transition (I was primary caretaker) without self-pity or a heavy dose of the blues. I’ll have to try the nighttime process, but I have a funny feeling it won’t work for me — at least for the moment. I’ve developed this tendency lately to keep going until my eyes roll back in my head. =)

    Thank you for this idea!

    1. Dear Linda,
      I am so sorry for your loss. What a blessing that counting your blessings helped you through this very difficult time. I don’t think the time of day is important–just the practice of being grateful whenever it works for you.

  8. Thanks for this Elaine. I’m going to take your advice and do the exercise. Even though I’m thankful every day, it makes sense to write down 3 things. That way I might review them when I’m feeling a little low.

    1. Hi, Lori,
      Having a written list of good things is definitely a mood booster when we start feeling down. I’m interested to hear how it works for you!

  9. I contacted a space for a show – art show set for November – a One Woman Show – yeah!
    Made an eye appointment – I have been procrastinating so it was good to schedule one.
    I got asked out on a date – I am not sure, but worth meeting someone new.
    I am grateful to be creative; I just hope that I can get my art career in a healthier place and show it more.

  10. I like positive actions.
    I’m grateful to be able to retire and work full time.
    I’m grateful for having a creative flow.
    Im grateful for the people who believe in me, especially when I have worked long hours week after week and get so tired that I feel everything is negative, for they bring light into my life.
    I’m grateful to be alive.
    I can go on as my gratitude for having the funds and time to create a body of work.
    I am also grateful to find Xanadu Gallery’s help with the hardest thing I face, and that is how to market my work.

  11. Thank you. Each night just before falling asleep, my husband and I ask each other “what 5 good things happened to you today?” We often have more than 5. While we do not write them down (a nice idea) we drift off to sleep being grateful for all we have.

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