Art is Good For you

Dear Friends,

We want to tell you about a groundbreaking new book, Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us by Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross.

We are sure that all of you who subscribe and submit photos to SeeingHappy know how important it is to engage in photography – that’s what we do each day. We take a little time out to savor a moment, focus on the positive, capture that moment, and share it to inspire others.

This book goes further: the book says the arts are necessary for our wellbeing, both our psychological and our physical well-being. Susan Magsamen, one of the authors, is the founder of the International Arts + Mind Lab at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In the Washington Post she says she “need[s] [art] for [her] soul, health, and survival”. 

CLEMATIS DAY 3 by Martin Seligman
SHAWL by Marion McCarthy
"My shawl I knitted"

According to the authors of Your Brain on Art art can be many different practices. From music to dance, or knitting to cooking, gardening to poetry, there are many ways to explore the arts in your life.

One main characteristic of arts engagement is entering the flow state which is a state characterized by losing one’s sense of self or time – you simply lose track of the outside world and become fully immersed in what you are doing. This is a stress free zone and that is its power – to transport you to a place of peace.

Another element is the social aspect – often art or music and especially dance happens in a social context and this is key. We are connecting with others and losing ourselves in the group.

The authors suggest we devote 20 minutes a day to our art whatever that might be.

This book comes on the heels of a report from the University College London which also stresses the well-being effects of engaging with the arts. This report looked at cohort studies which followed participants for a number of years in both the US and the UK. They found that depression goes down, cognitive decline is reduced, chronic pain and fragility are lowered, and both mental and physical health increase.

Engaging in the arts is good for you! So pick up your camera and spend time outside or go to a concert or a museum and be inspired. Knit that blanket you always wanted to complete, or immerse yourself in an idea you have been meaning to explore.

Flow, creativity, relaxation, and social connection… Engaging in the arts can bring all of this together, and joy with it.

The Team at SeeingHappy


Roger Irwin

Roger Irwin is passionate about understanding the intersection of the arts and human development. He is researching how media intake and creativity based interventions can help people explore their strengths. He is a candidate for the Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania.

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