I want to talk about an important subject. Important to us as artists. It is about how to live a purpose driven life as an artist. This is so fundamental to every part of our lives as artists. In fact, it also influences our health, well being and longevity. Also many other important aspects about how we interact with other people. Also about how we treat ourselves. There is a Japanese philosophy of life called ikigai. We can learn about living each day with purpose through ikigai. Who knows, you may even live to a hundred years old if you do!
I came across a documentary on Netflix recently called The Blue Zones by author Dan Buettner. Read more about Dan here. You may have encountered the term Blue Zones before.
The term describes areas in the world where there are a high percentage of long living people. Specifically centenarians. But the main idea is to find out why people in these specific areas live such a long time. They also have such meaningful lives.
We are used to having life extended through medication and hospitalization. That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about living a healthy, fulfilling life well into old age. Living through your 90s, even reaching 100 and beyond without typical medical interventions
One of the areas covered in The Blue Zones documentary is the island of Okinawa, Japan. There is a high concentration of centenarians living health purposeful and fulfilling lives. Are there many contributing factors? Of course, from social interaction to diet to exercise.
What is Ikigai?
One of the things that caught my eye, or living practices, if I can call it that, is the concept of ikigai.
This is a Japanese term and roughly translated, means living a life of purpose, a purpose driven life. And the translation is more or less: a reason for being. Isn't that such a powerful phrase? What is your reason for being?
This encourages individuals to seek out their unique blend of passion, vocation, profession and mission. The pursuit is a lifelong journey. This journey provides a continuous source of motivation and direction.
Let's look at those words again. Passion, vocation, profession and mission. This can cover many areas of your life. From a professional life, your business life, your personal life and the things you do. Are they purpose driven? Do you have a passion for it? Are you focused on them? Do they give you pleasure? Do they give you a reason to get up in the morning?
That's what we're after, isn't it? Something to make us get up each day with purpose. Studies show that having a sense of purpose can lead to a longer and healthier life. These Japanese individuals living in Okinawa are proof of that.
Some of them creating crafts like making musical instruments. Japanese craftsmen are famous around the world. Whether they're making samurai swords, musical instruments or other forms of art, painting, pottery. They do it with such focus, dedication, and pursuit of perfection. This is evidence of a strong passion or love for what they're doing.
Creating with Love
The process of creating transcends a production process. It is so much more. It is an act of commitment and love. Carrying something forward from masters that have come before. Paying it forward to masters in the future. People who practice a lifestyle around ikigai show reduced stress levels. Also reduced risk of chronic diseases, and an increased well being. This contributes to their extended lifespans. They live a positive approach to their life and their interactions with other people.
What are the benefits of living a purpose driven life?
As artists, how can we use our art to help us focus on something that is purpose driven? Well, creating your art is something you can feel a strong purpose for. And of course, it's such a fun activity, it should be a lot easier to develop and concentrate on creativity.
The benefits are:
1. Clarity and focus. Discovering your ikigai provides a clear path to follow. Artists can concentrate their energy and talents on what matters to them. This focus helps in honing their creative skills and producing beautiful works of art.
2. Another benefit is peace and fulfillment.
Living in alignment with your purpose leads to profound sense of inner peace and fulfillment. Artists who take up this lifestyle of living a purpose driven life find joy in their creative processes. It transcends the pursuit of external validation by finding contentment within yourself.
In that creative process, you're not chasing after prizes or validation from third parties. If that's your reason for getting up, then you need to reassess. Validation and sense of purpose comes from within. It's not an award at an exhibition. It comes from you taking your skills and turning something into another thing that is beautiful and meaningful to you.
3. Resilience and adaptability that it brings to your personality. A purpose driven life equips individuals with a sense of resilience to overcome challenges. You can adapt to changing circumstances. Artists who connect to a sense of purpose weather setbacks and continue to create even in the face of adversity.
You may have examples of how your purpose in your creativity has helped you cope with difficult circumstances. Helped you to bounce back and calm the storm inside you. I can relate to this and art has helped me get over so many challenging circumstances in my life.
Whether it was in my professional life before I turned to full time art, how to cope with tremendous stress. Art helped me through that and now it gives me a reason to get up each day. I look forward to getting to my studio and working on my art. Writing like this about art and creativity is fulfilling to me.
So, how to change your life? If you are stuck and caught up in the rat race and indecision. How do you develop your life further so that you can live a more purpose driven life?
5 Tips to a More Purposeful Life
1. Self reflection is number one. Start by reflecting on what are your passions, talents and what brings you joy. Identify activities that make you lose track of time. These often align with what is your true purpose and calling in life. Getting into that flow state where time flies by and you are so happy. All your worries disappear and you focus on that one thing, that is the clue you're looking for.
2. The next is look for inspiration. Study the lives of artists who have found their purpose. Learn from their experiences, struggles and triumphs to gain insight into your own journey.
An example could be looking up books on Van Gogh's letters to his brother. Or Claude Monet. There are books recording all his correspondence through his life. You can see the difficulties that all these artists went through. Especially in their early careers where they were short on money. Even Claude Monet was in deep trouble begging for loans to pay the rent.
3. Then set meaningful goals. Define clear goals that align with your purpose. Break them down into actionable steps and work towards them. For example starting a basic painting program. ou may want to create for an hour a week on the weekend. Start learning a specific medium you're going to work from. Take a course or read a book, or study somebody's painting video and then work from there, whatever it may be. Set small goals like this that you can work step by step. Instead of making a vague goal like saying you want to improve your painting this year. Well, that's so vague that you can't figure out exactly what to do next. It leaves you still confused and directionless.
So make small achievable goals that all lead to a greater goal.
4. Then also try connecting with the community. Surrounding yourself with individuals who share your creative interests. You will get a lot of reinforcement and encouragement. You could join an art club, a workshop or an online community. Develop meaningful connections that way.
5. Finally, embrace the growth that all this activity is going to bring you. Growth is not a simple A to B straight up success. There's going to be challenges and failures and also opportunities along the way. Your creative journey will evolve. It'll have its ups and downs, and that's the way it's meant to be. You must try to adapt to the downs, learn from them and move on.
A Complete Transformation
Keep going forward and learn from your experiences. Have fun throughout the process. By embracing Ikigai you are developing a life of purpose through your art. You'll see a renewed commitment. A renewed energy. You'll find yourself striving with greater focus and leading to mastering your art. Creating beautiful works of art. Living a more peaceful and fulfilling life. Getting control of your emotions. Interacting in a positive way with other people and helping others as well. Whether it's your children or grandchildren or friends. They will discover something new too. Also learn about another side to your personality.
What Do Artists Really Want?
These things come with living a purpose driven life. The things that artists grapple with are th same things that everybody grapples with. But speaking for myself as an artist, I seem to have this desire to spend my time in a meaningful way. To also leave something of a legacy. My paintings may be that. I'm also trying to help others with my teaching and also create an example for my children as well.
So what is it that artists need? Well, there's definitely a need for purpose. This is the thrust of what we are talking about today. People want a deeper sense of purpose in their daily lives and their artistic journey. Something that goes beyond making something. but having an emotional connection to it. Also an emotional connection to the world at large. So you feel like you are contributing in a positive way.
There's also a need for inspiration. We want to get up each day and feel inspired.
Sometimes it doesn't quite work out that way. You have a greater chance of doing that if you are living with a sense of purpose. Especially getting a sense of purpose from your art. And then you will be looking forward to each day.
Also, there is a need for connection. We want to connect with like minded individuals. Like I'm talking to you on this topic and making a connection with people out there. Artists like yourself. If we share a similar view on this topic we can support each other. Talking about subjects like this is not that common, of course. I hop that is something we can start breaking down. Being more supportive of each other and encourage each other.
Finally, a need for fulfillment is important. We are looking for a fulfilled life. We are looking to connect, as I said, as well, and we're looking to do something meaningful. All that leads to a sense of fulfillment through our art. Fulfills our desire to make a positive impact on society.
All this comes down to discovering ourselves. Getting a sense of self, as it were. Understanding your position in the world. Your place, your contribution. Also finding stability in our lives or some sort of balance where we can contribute that way as well.
So, to summarize, living a life of purpose and a meaningful life covers these important wants that we have:
1. The desire for meaning.
2. The desire for being in a sense of creative flow.
3. The desire for making a positive impact or a contribution.
4. Connecting with like minded people.
5. Feeling a sense of contentment that our life is in balance.
So this is it. All these things add up to a life that's worth living. One where we feel more connected. Reducing our stress, reducing our fears of what's going to happen next. Helping us to live a longer, more contented and healthier life.
I'm interested to hear your thoughts on this. How do you feel about the concept of ikigai and meaningful and purposeful life? How has art contributed to that for you? Or are you considering taking up art or some other creative practice to help you connect and create a more meaningful life for you? What's going to help you jump out of bed with enthusiasm the next day?
Talk to your friends, talk to your family, talk to yourself. Find out what's going to make your life more purpose driven.
Now, if you're interested in learning more about painting, I have a lot ofpainting courses. I have a membership group as well, where we meet each month. So if you want to find out more about that, look up m painting courses and see if there's something for you there. I have courses from free right through to premium, and there's bound to be something there for you as well.
If you've enjoyed this chat, please give it a thumbs up, share it, whatever you can help to make it more known out there. I rely on you, the listener, to help spread the word. Thank you very much for joining me, and I hope to chat to you again soon. So until then, happy painting and cheers for now.
Read more about the Blue Zones:
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