4 Ways to Improve Your Happiness Through Art

Young woman looking at modern painting in art gallery

Photo by guruXOX/Shutterstock

A trip to your local museum can be a boost to your well-being.

If you are looking for a place to learn something new about yourself, improve on your overall health and happiness and make real connections, try your local museum. A meaningful museum visit can offer substantial benefits if you approach it as something more than just a place for observing art and artifacts. So, get out of the ordinary, and allow the art to take you in.

Get Lost

Research suggests mental restoration is achieved by mentally and physically removing yourself from routine and immersing yourself in an experience that leads to mindfulness. A museum visit during which you take on the role of both passive viewer and active participant offers such an opportunity. The next time you see a still life, consider what the individual objects in the painting mean to you. This can spark reminiscence and self-reflection. 

Engage

Engaging with art on an emotional level can be inspiring. Skip the text panel description of the art piece, and instead ask yourself, “If this image could talk to me, what would it say?” or “What feelings does this image evoke in me?” These questions allow you to project your life stories onto the art, assigning personal meaning to and helping you connect with the work on a deeper level. 

Flex Your Mind

Studies have shown that new experiences and learning can have positive effects on your physiological health, leading to increased brain health and immune system function. Learning builds confidence and increases self-esteem—sharing knowledge is empowering. A docent-led tour allows you to learn more details about the artists’ backgrounds, the subject matter and how pieces were acquired. 

Buddy Up

Visiting a museum with someone is a great way to open the door for rich, meaningful conversation. You learn one another’s interests and share knowledge, reaffirming established connections and forging new ones. For example, discuss attributes the subject in a portrait has, and consider if these are qualities you appreciate.

(This story originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Live Happy magazine.)

Karen Peacock is a board-certified art therapist, artist and freelance writer based in Memphis, Tenn. Her work has appeared in numerous national and international journals and publications.

 

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