Chapter 2 in my new book Live An Artful Life is tilted, Lifestyle, Happiness, and Wellness. This chapter comes quickly in the book because of its overall importance to the process of living artfully. I begin this chapter with Life can be mundane if you allow it to be. The good thing is it doesn’t have to be. It just takes one simple change to truly live artfully, and that’s being carefree.
These words are followed by this second paragraph - Carefree doesn’t mean being reckless and not caring about anything. The essence of the word carefree is happiness. Is there anything more important than happiness? Being unhappy is stressful and stress makes you sick, so I don’t think so. Being happy is the essence of feeling great about life. Feeling great about who you are as a person, your family and friends, your social interactions in general, and with humanity overall. There is nothing in this world better than feeling happy and or making others feel happy, which in return of course, almost always leads to more of your own happiness! Carefree is not careless. Quite seriously, it’s anything but.
I want everyone to understand that life needs to be taken just a little less serious in most areas. If you look at our lifestyle in the United States, it kind of goes like this. We see ourselves as productive. We work hard and pressure cook ourselves to the point of over scheduling. We have allotted very little time for rest. We even do this socially. Then we bombard ourselves with 24/7 amounts of nearly useless information, to the point where our brains are battered. But that’s not enough. We then beat ourselves to a pulp with social media and a zillion mostly meaningless little text messages. In the process, I believe we’ve actually become less social, not more. Our communication is like make-up, it’s a surface effect, not a subdermal, get to the heart of the matter one.
If you go to a museum and look at people looking at art, they silently stand or even sit in front of an image. Their breathing is normal, as is their heart rate. The message of that art becomes their own interpretation of it and it pours into them naturally like liquid through a funnel. Even if the image is unsettling, the brain is able to modulate its acceptance of what is happening and process the information.
These days, much of what our brains take in on a day to day basis is thrown at us. It is not as though we are walking down a sidewalk, peacefully looking around or even up at a soft blue sky, when a person comes along and we stop for a nice conversation. Then, as we move along, we have time to process our discussion. No, we are more likely looking at our phone, late to get somewhere and thinking about our over-scheduled lives. A text comes in as we are reading a plethora of email and wondering who is getting the kids to the next sports practice. We know there’s little time for anything, much less time to process all of the information of any conversation.
So a version of fun is relegated to wine while making dinner, a short vacation once a year, for which you likely spend some amount of it on the phone still working. In this chapter I say - To live an artful life, you need to refocus you on the greatness around you! To slow your pace, you must re-set your pace.
In a recent conversation with a friend, he told me that I had been on his mind. He knows me as an artist. He doesn’t’ think of himself really as being creative, but told me he took up doing paint by number paintings. I told him that’s great! In very little time he moved to buy better brushes and is enjoying the experience even more. But the main thing he enjoys is how his mind just drifts away as he finds himself engrossed with it for hours. How do you think his heart feels about that? Wonderful I’m sure. I have another friend who comes home from work and pretty quickly moves to put a puzzle together. All of them now are at least 1000 pieces and he goes through them at a rate of about one per week. In a sense, this is a bit like painting in that he sees the image develop in front of him. It’s his mind and hand working together, processing things slowly and it’s fun. His heart is now beating normally, he is not being bombarded, and he moves at his relaxed natural pace.
This is the whole principle behind Live An Artful Life. In many cases, it is redefining what is really important and refueling yourself for those things which are beyond your control. Our lives today deserve stress relief more than ever. Live An Artful Life is the answer, my friends.