GIVE ME ART OR GIVE ME DEATH: Seven Ways Art Improves Our Quality of Life

Art, whether you’re creating it or merely appreciating it, can improve your quality of life. It has for me. It can expose parts of you that you may not be able to consciously access, even those that you may have never known exist.

Catharsis—it feels so good.

Artwork is a drug-free brain stimulant. It evokes emotions similar to the greatest feelings humans can experience. I even came up with a word to describe the feeling that can rarely be put into words.

Anywho, without further delay, here are 7 Ways Art Improves Our Lives:

1. Admiring Artwork Feels Very Similar to Love

Science confirms what all art lovers already know: art makes you feel good. A neurobiologist could show you that, when you stare at amerzin’ art, the same part of your brain as when you fall in love is stimulated.

The feelings of passion and affinity that we have when we fall for someone romantically is the result of our brain releasing dopamine, a feel-good chemical. Our brains have the same reaction when walking around the Louvre, Jackson Square in New Orleans, or even perusing the local museum.

And the chemical reactions aren’t limited to the canvas.

Other types of art, like music or architecture, stimulate dopamine production in the brain.

2. Art = Therapy

People have rediscovered the benefits of art-making for personal growth and general wellbeing.

Through artistic expression, we can access emotions and process them in a healthy way. By working to show the world from a certain perspective, we become able to see ourselves in a new light.

Studies have shown that, regardless of skill, making art reduces stress and lends itself to a sense of mental harmony.

It is even employed in economical ways ranging from mental health practices to business trends. Art therapy, which taps into the concept that the creative process exists within every individual, is a popular technique therapists employ. And people seek out art parties and guided painting classes.

Everyone has a unique perspective which can be a useful tool to learning about ourselves, as well as appreciating life more. All things happy bodies can jive with.

3. It Helps Us Learn What Makes Us Happy

Marie Kondō knows the deal. She helps people de-clutter their lives by asking them to throw out everything that doesn’t bring them joy.

Having things around us that make us happy has a twofold effect:

  1. It helps us enjoy our surroundings
  2. It helps us know ourselves better by getting in touch with ourselves

It could be a color or pattern, a texture or finish, a style or design—the only thing that matters is that it speaks to you.

Look at your favorites and ask: Why do I like these so much?

Your answers will help you understand yourself and get more of what makes you happy.

4. Art Helps Us Build Our Individual Worlds

When you know what makes your eyeballs happy, you can get more of it.

Like forest green?

Paint a wall.

Do you like it for the nature it invokes?

Incorporate nature into your life through decor or a new hobby.

Go gaga for chevron?

Get some throw pillows.

Tap into your sources of inspiration. Once you know your thing, get more of it it on your life. Live it. Love it.

5. Art Makes the World À Better Place

Medical studies have shown that stroke survivors interested in the arts had better health, found it easier to walk, had more energy, and were likely to be less stressed and anxious.

Those types of results suggest that art affects long-term neural changes that help folks recover when things go wrong.

Public art can even beautify and energize entire cities. Take, for example, the efforts Chicago has made to amp up its citizens with art.

6. Art Appreciation Can Be A Lifelong Experience

In the 1940s, Abraham Maslow, an American professor of psychology, developed a Hierarchy of Needs. According to Maslow, a person will develop from basic needs to self-actualization in steps.

His theory can be visualized as a pyramid:

At the bottom of the pyramid are the primary needs of every human being; going up, we find more refined and sophisticated needs. Art is at the top of this pyramid; in fact, it belongs to the self-actualization step.

They say you can never step in the same river twice. Similarly, you never see the same piece of art twice. Every moment, you’re different – in big ways and small, if you see the same piece a decade later or 30 minutes later – which influences how you view and receive art.

7. Art Touches Things Deep Inside

In all its facets, art is a deeply personal experience. It is a word-less language that every mind speaks in its own unique dialect.

Creator or viewer, patron or artist… the pleasure derived from art is something that belongs to you and to me within ourselves. My experience doesn’t have to affect yours, and vice versa.

Art can get under your skin in good ways and bad. It can make an impact in ways that make people angry or take them to a happier time… maybe even for the same person on the same day. (It’s what makes me cry every time a symphony begins… ask Jelaine).

If you visit my art page, you can see its effect on my life.