Finding meaning in one’s life is both sacred and elusive. These aren’t lessons we learn easily but as we age, we reflect upon them and seek to find a more purposeful life. While there is no one answer on how to do that, I suggest we look to the artist as a creative, life-expanding model.
While artists share the same struggles we all share, the very nature of the creative process requires the artist to stay open to life’s surprises and see the world with curiosity and wonder.
Consider the science of the creative brain. Science tells us that creative activities are literally therapy for the mind, whether it is writing a book, playing music, baking or gardening. A creative outlet improves mental clarity, relieves stress, increases brain function, improves mood and plays a huge role in long-term wellness. In addition, there are traits that artists seem to embrace naturally that have proven to be beneficial in living a purposeful life.
What then can we learn from the artist when contemplating embracing a creative life?
The artist seeks meaning. The artist, using his or her full potential, will pursue a creative vision with tenacity. This creative process not only creates significance for the artist, but there is the hope that if lucky, the work will connect emotionally with others, which in turn creates meaning for others as well.
The artist is a risk taker. The issue of risk is central to the creative person. Living an artist’s life requires the artist to push past fears – fears of failure, financial risk, etc. An artist will often continue to take creative risks late in life and with a redoubled enthusiasm, even during periods of difficult transitions.
The artist must be present. To be successful the artist knows that ideas alone are not enough and to bring ideas to fruition requires one to be present without a noisy and cluttered mind. It is through mindfulness that the artist finds his or her truth.
The artist seeks a sacred moment. The artist often tells us that when deeply involved in the creative process he or she may feel they are a “tool” of something or someone greater than themselves: a god, a muse or perhaps an angel. In the throes of their work it is as if time does not exist; hours may pass but they don’t realize it…they are in a zone. There is a sense whether seated at the easel or at their piano that words, music, colors just spill out in a manner that seems both sacred and magical.
Embracing a creative life does not mean one must become an artist or a writer, but it might serve us well to incorporate some of these ideas into our lives; to seek meaning and connection with work and with others; to push boundaries and step out of the comfort zone; to remember to take a moment to notice the colors of the sky at night or feel the coolness of a breeze; and most importantly, to honor those sacred moments when we are fortunate enough to experience them.
How one chooses to define a purposeful life can be elusive. By incorporating creativity to one’s life, there is the possibility to connect to your true purpose and view the world in a whole new light.
Judy Nemer Sklar is a successful business owner, artist and writer. Her current projects include a blog ArtistsNarratives.com and research for her book of the same name based on the science of creative aging. For more information visit www.judynemersklar.com.