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If you’re happy and you know it — fill out this artist’s card • Brooklyn Paper

If you’re happy and you know it — fill out this artist’s card

Artist Tim Manley has installed a card catalogue in the Tea Lounge in Park Slope asking people to fill out cards explaining the key to happiness. Is it working? Well, are you happy yet?
Photo by Tom Callan

One artist has compiled hundreds of answers to the age-old question, “What is happiness?” The problem? None of them will work for you.

That’s the gist of Tim Manley’s installation at the Tea Lounge, a card catalogue filled with people’s reasons to be happy.

Here’s a taste:

“My husband of 33 survived a stroke and can be here with me when our baby comes,” wrote one woman.

Great for her. But what about the rest of us?

Rather than offer any clear-cut route to bliss, Manley’s installation, “100 Reasons to be Happy,” makes happiness, that ever-elusive emotion, something of a myth. To one person, happiness is peppermint tea; to another, it’s karate.

“Beer,” says one card (and what if you’re an alcoholic?).

“Sex, baby!” says another (great advice, but not for the unwillingly celibate).

Manley admitted that most viewers won’t become instantly joyful from merely reading the cards. But his artistic goal was a lot smaller than that.

Indeed, every person seems to experience a brief moment of happiness as he scribbles on an index card with a colorful crayon.

Ros R, from Bedford-Stuyvesant, smiled as she declared her reason to be happy: “Being able to play music in the street.”

Her friend, Alex Rubinstein from Fort Greene, had a different reason to be happy — “My niece learning grammar” — but also smiled as he wrote out the card.

“I don’t want us to forget the good things,” said Manley. “I want us to love life.”

Cloying? Yes but Tea Lounge customers certainly appreciate it.

“I’m happy it’s here,” said Rubinstein.

“100 Reasons to be Happy” at the Tea Lounge [837 Union St. between Sixth and Seventh Avenues in Park Slope, (718) 789-2762] through June 30.

A sample card offers many possible ways to improve one’s mood (even touting a Tea Lounge competitor!).
Photo by Tom Callan

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