If you have a job, you most likely have a routine: Wake up in the morning, brush your teeth, head to work, sit in the same office, interact with the same people and then head home. On most days, it can feel repetitive and dull.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, humans are creatures of habit, and the workplace is a habitat in which we like things to be steady, stable and safe. But therein lies the problem: When you work at the same place and hang out with the same people, you’re constrained from creative growth and experiencing what the world can offer you. All of that can be a big gateway to stress.
‘Don’t worry, be happy’
For years, researchers have found that happiness and creativity go hand in hand. In one study, conducted by researchers from Texas State University’s Department of Psychology, college students were assigned to work in groups on three short (about 30 minute) activities — some were art-related (i.e., abstract watercolor painting) and others were not (i.e., puzzles).
Participants who worked on art-related activities had lower anxiety levels by the end of the study compared to the levels they had before the activities. Conversely, those who participated in the non-art activities showed no significant changes in their anxiety levels.
At the University of North Carolina, researchers surveyed 79 people over a week-long period about their feelings and actions. Those who had more “happy days” spent around 20 percent of their time on creative activities, like writing or playing music, drawing or making up their own recipes. Additionally, the authors found that “those who scored higher in openness to experience were much more likely to spend time on creative activities than others.”
So if you aren’t expressing your artistic side, it’s probably because you’re not being challenged or encouraged to do so. One of the most effective ways to change this is to befriend an artist — here’s why:
1. You’ll discover your inner voice
Whether they’re a painter, poet or photographer, artists have a special medium of expression that they enjoy sharing with the world. They imbue their output with their thoughts, feelings, ideas and spirit. And, in many cases, they feel uninhibited and comfortable in expressing themselves wholly.
In the corporate and professional worlds, we’re taught to think twice about what should or shouldn’t be said, and the most appropriate way to share our thoughts. By spending time with an artist, you’ll be reminded how free you can be, and that you can live life on your terms without fearing the compliance department. You’ll discover that you have an inner voice, and that you should listen to it more often.
2. You’ll create a legacy
When we look back on our lives, we often think about what we left behind. What did we make that will stand the test of time? It certainly won’t be the emails we sent or the transactions we made at work. Spending time with an artist you can help to create your own creative legacy. For example, they might ask you to serve as a patron and help them produce their work, which might then inspire you to create something of you own.
John Williamson, the Chair of the Board of the Switzerland-based private bank EFG International, for example, had forged a friendship with Fritz Renold and Helen Savari, two musicians who put together the Jazzaar Festival in Aarau. He later told us he found it rewarding to be around people who have different skills, and to witness their dedication to their vocation. Renold even said, “Bankers are close to money every day, and jazz musicians are about as far away from money as one can be. These opposite directions act like a plus and minus from a magnet. It also allows you to view things from different perspectives.”
3. You’ll find peace
Thanks to a significant amount of research, it’s clear that creativity can help lower anxiety and stress.
We recently partnered with the illustrious new age artist Paul Avgerinos to create a new album, Musical Mediations on the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. As soon as we joined him in the studio to start recording, we felt completely relaxed as Paul’s beautiful music enveloped our very being. They say the most interesting life is the creative life. Live life to the fullest by making it a point to learn from and collaborate with artists.
Kabir Sehgal is a New York Times best-selling author. He is a former vice president at JPMorgan Chase, multi-Grammy Award winner and U.S. Navy veteran. Chopra and Sehgal are the co-creators of Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome, inspired by American immigrants.