This is a guest post by Allison Moody
Though I am a generally happy person, from time to time I feel depressed or should I say – blue. For example, I may feel like crying when someone hurts my feelings, or when for some reason the world feels like a cruel place. The good news is, there are simple things that can alleviate our pain, that can help our happiness, and I’ve discovered some of them.
The Arts are Not Pretty Pointless Pastimes
Many people consider the arts to be a mere ornament in our lives. The arts can be entertaining, but also sometimes even life-saving. I know people who stayed sane during wars in their country thanks to books they practically devoured, while bombs and shootings roared in the background. I know people whose day becomes bright after they hear a certain song. I’m one of these people—the moment I hear happy sounds of the music of the 80’s, my soul starts dancing.
Uplifting our spirits and enriching our soul is as important nourishment for our bodies as is food.
Wisdom in the Eternal Words of Art
Whenever a bad mood takes a hold of me, I resort to the comforting world of the arts. Even if I’d rather lie curled up under a blanket and not move, I usually make an effort because I know I won’t regret it. I make myself get up and put on some soothing music, get a nice book of poetry, watch the latest movie by my favorite director, or sometimes go out to see an art exhibition. Here are ways the arts can impact us:
1) Music can have an immediate effect on us. Whether you like to listen to rock’ n’ roll, classical, blues or hip hop, music communicates with our body on an emotional level. It’s a passionate conversation that liberates us. The way I react to music is by singing along, dancing to it (in the kitchen, while I’m cleaning my apartment) or I just close my eyes and let it fall over me.
If you are like me, keep a music player near your bed, and if you wake up in the morning sad, just hit “play” and it can help you feel better.
2) Literature educates, entertains, makes us think, teaches us about life, and the nature of humankind. A good book that really talks to us can point us in the right direction when we need guidance. When we’re down, curling up with a good book is a very good way to empower oneself and return to life with a feeling of being wiser.
Some people prefer self-help books when they’re feeling down. I prefer blogs, magazines, and shorter pieces. When it comes to books, it has to be quality stuff that speaks to my mind and my soul.
When I’m sad, I read books that make me laugh, like stories by Lorrie Moore, George Saunders, Woody Allen, or sci-fi plots so removed from our world that I forget about my problems at least for a while. Powerful poetry gives me perspective on things (myself, my relationships, what’s important in life), and so do essays by interesting writers.
3) Visual arts speak to us differently than books and songs. Paintings can soothe us, help us come to terms with some problem in our lives, or they can inspire us to start creating works of art ourselves. When I can’t concentrate on a book, I often start drawing or painting and that can be stress-relieving.
Movies are usually a more literal form of art, where much is explained directly through dialogue, people’s facial expressions, music in the background, and more. Good movies let us think and wonder about them, and give us an insight into ourselves.
These “hobbies”, as some call them, are much more powerful than we are aware. Quality and inspirational works of art move us one way or another. They change us. They also have a great way of distracting us from our own worries and show us a broader picture of the situation.
How about you? How do the arts help you? Join the conversation with your comments…
Allison Moody is the happiest when reading, writing, painting or dancing. Her work currently consists of promoting her online application, Labeley, a free tool for designing labels.