Why is art magical? How can it make us happy? How Art Can Make You Happy offers the keys to unlocking a rich and rewarding source of joy in life. This easy, breezy handbook by Bridget Watson Payne is full of insight that will help regular people begin a more inspiring and less stressful relationship with art. With tips on how to visit museums, how to talk about art at cocktail parties, and how to let art wake you up to the world around you, this little guide makes it possible for anyone to fall in love with art, whether for the first time or all over again.
Bridget Watson Payne: I believe that art is magic.
Heather McElhatton: That’s Bridget Watson Payne, who wrote a book called HOW ART CAN MAKE YOU HAPPY. She says one way art can make you happy, is by waking you up to three profound realities.
BWP: The first is the reality of the world, where you see the world around you much more crystal clear and bright and articulate. The second is the reality of other people, we all think we are the center of the universe, everybody does, and that it is our life’s work to move away from that viewpoint and to start to realize that other people are just as real as we are, and they are the center of their universe, in the same way we are the center of our universe.
HM: ..And finally art can wake you up to the reality of yourself.
BWP: To take you out of the day to day, mundane, hamster-in-a-wheel part of your brain, and into the part of yourself that has the greater capacity for joy and empathy and happiness and communion with the work of artists is another profound thing you can be woken up to when you spend more time looking at art.
HM: Another kind of magic isn’t magic at all, but science, and what actually happens to your body when you look at art.
BWP: One of the most interesting things I found is that when they hook people up to EKGs and make them look at art, and watch which part of their brains light up, one of the many parts that lights up is the motor cortex, so you actually feel art physically in your body, not only in your head or eyeballs. That to me is a great scientific example of the magic of art.
HM: Bridget admits not all art is pretty, it can be disturbing, it can shake you up, it can produce all sorts of strange emotions but that leads to a deeper connection and understanding of your own world which leads to happiness.
BWP: All kinds of art is an engine of empathy, it helps us get out of our own heads and into the realities of others. It’s also just this huge arena of human endeavor and passion and beauty and excitement, that’s sort of just sitting there, all the time, like the ocean, waiting for us to come to it and let it do its number on our brain, which its very very good at.
HM: Bridget is quick to explain art doesn’t have to only be work hanging in galleries and museums, art can be found everywhere, on the street, in your home, on your commute, everywhere. here she reads an excerpt from her book, “How Art Can Make You Happy.”
BWP: The world around you is spectacular. And not just the big things, the oceans and the sunsets and the Eiffel tower and whatnot, like Andy Warhol said, if you let yourself, you can see just as much wonder in the little stuff, the Campbell soup can, the autumn sun on bricks, the eyelashes of a giraffe. Tuning in is the magnificence of reality, both natural and man made can increase your daily happiness quotient. Great thinkers, from poets to psychiatrists, philosophers to scientists have known this to be true. One of the best treatments for ailments, from vague malaise to serious depression and everything in between, isolation, grief, boredom, creative block, the blues – is to step outside the front door, go to the ocean, go to the corner cafe, allow people or objects or nature to actually enter in thru your eyeballs and make an impression on your brain. start to see their beauty and you start – teeny tiny bit by teeny tiny bit – to bring more joy into your heart.
HM: You can hear more from our interview and read a selection from Bridget’s book HOW ART CAN MAKE YOU HAPPY online at www.abeautiful.world. I’m hem this is A Beautiful World.
…brought to you with help from the pohlad family foundation