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

for The Brooklyn Paper
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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.

Updated 5:24 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Rob from Greenpoint says:
And just how exactly does this BS qualify as "art"?
June 22, 2011, 9:29 am
K from Downtown Brooklyn says:
What a great idea!
June 22, 2011, 10:16 am
Nick from Park Slope says:
Rob from Green Point asked how this is art.

It's a project that asks participants to to consider their own experiences and to reflect on what they feel is important.

What do you consider Art, Rob?
June 22, 2011, 11:10 am
Liz from Greenpoint says:
I think this project is fantastic.
June 22, 2011, 11:35 am
Vinny from Pallet Town says:
Hey Rob,

the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

Since this work is both appealing enough to have an article written about it and of greater than ordinary significance based on the fact that not only is it significant to the people that contribute, but it also carries enough weight that others have made the journey to visit the work. Therefore, I believe that makes it art!

You should probably look things up for yourself next time so you don't look so negative on message boards. FTW.


P.S. Don't be jealous you haven't done anything this cool, Rob.
June 22, 2011, 11:38 am
S from Prospect Heights says:
All the cards made in the project are online at

Check 'em out and determine which people's reasons to be happy make you most angry. I am personally infuriated by #1266: swimming. Ick, I hate swimming.
June 22, 2011, 11:50 am
Amaia from Idaho says:
I agree with every comment in exception with the first comment from an ignorant Mr. Rob! This piece of art is a fantastic and fabulous idea! I was lucky enough to travel to NYC and experience the Tea Lounge and this work of art for myself. In aggreeance with Vinny.....try not to be jealous of such a fabulous thing but enjoy your ignorant lifestyle, because that kind of ignorance is art in itself!
June 22, 2011, 5:23 pm
ali from gramercy park says:
kimberly lightbody? what the hell kind of name is that?

this is such a dumb article. you are just jealous that you didn't think of something as adorable and awesome.

are you jealous that your neckbeard wolfshirt boyfriend isn't as cool as yungmoney Tim Manley?

keep hatin, Kimberly Lightbody. keep talking your sh*t while the alphas like Tim rise to the top.
June 22, 2011, 5:32 pm
Ben from North End/Park Slope says:
You're the man Tim! Keep up the good work!
June 22, 2011, 7:01 pm
L from NYC says:
Dear Kimberly,

The piece is not titled "the universal key to happiness" it's called "100 reasons to be happy," implying that everyone has their own unique reasons to be happy. It's not a step by step guide to happiness, it encourages people to look into their own lives and find what makes them happy. maybe you should write a card that says "completely missing the point." If your upset the card catalog didn't bring you the key to happiness, well... happiness isn't for everyone.
June 24, 2011, 1:40 pm
Yazmin from Staten Island says:
Mr. Manley was my 11th grade English teacher. If you knew him, you would know that little things like cards make all the difference in the world. I never saw him upset and even when the class wasn't in order, he was always smiling. He's an amazing person and what he's done here is only a tiny glimpse of that. I think he needs to continue doing what makes HIM happy, which was this and teaching. So to all the rude comments, maybe his ART didn't appeal to you because you're a bitter person who couldn't think of ONE reason to be happy. THANK YOU Mr. Manley, for giving people a reason to smile again. We need a lot more things like this.
June 25, 2011, 9:37 pm

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