Do art. At any age.

07 Jan

Practising art is essential to our wellbeing and happiness

Doing art for happiness seems so sensible and obvious. Why don’t we do more of it? Vonnegut’s quote has been on social media recently. It resonates for me and I’ll tell you why.

Stop the excuses

How often have you wondered if you’re too old, too broke, too…? Yes, I wondered too. Until I read an article similar to this one: http://stringsmagazine.com/its-never-too-late-to-pick-up-an-instrument-here-are-5-tips-for-adult-beginners.  The permission I was inwardly seeking to go learn a musical instrument had landed in my lap.

It’s personal

Two years ago I decided to learn the cello. I had never even held a string instrument before and my knowledge of reading music almost nil. A lover of music most of my life, I am particularly drawn to the sound of the cello and so I hired one for 6 months and found a wonderful teacher.

If only I could play like Jacqueline du Pre, or YoYo Ma, but realistically that will never happen. So I continue to learn to play and have fun with this beautiful instrument. I’ve broadened my knowledge of music generally, and deepened my fascination with the cello, those who play it, and the beautiful music created for it.

I am able to lose myself for an hour or so most days as I practice my scales, play (perhaps ‘saw’ is a better word!) some recognizable tunes, learn to read music better, improve my ear and muscle memory and coordination. This has been a special gift to myself: bringing more creativity to my strongly cerebral personality, and simultaneously giving me a complete cognitive workout.

Benefits of pursuing art or music

“If you want to find more creativity, satisfaction, and happiness, the single best solution I know is adding more art to your life.” Michael Hyatt, Entrepreneur and Author.

It’s about creativity

The impact of art, music and writing has been shown in some studies (Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine) to improve the functioning of the immune system. Producing art doesn’t just make one feel better it actually positively affects the physical body too.

Other benefits of producing art, playing music, writing and other creative arts include:

  • reducing stress and anxiety
  • decreases negative emotions, including depression, and increasing positive emotions
  • encourages self-expression and social engagement

By focusing on producing something creative (i.e. output), instead of relying on social media or other external inputs, your creative juices are stimulated. You feel inspired. You become a contributor instead of a consumer for a while.

So do more art. Do it ‘well or badly’ so as ‘to make your soul grow’.