- Christine Forest, M.D.
- Los Angeles, California
- I have initially created the Better Than Cured Guide to Healing and Happiness to help patients in my psychiatric private practice who were suffering from anxiety and depression. My goal was not only to help them get well, but beyond that, to also help them find a viable path to a happier life. They were loosing any hope that they can ever be healthy and happy again. They were amazed when they did it. If hundreds of my patients could do it, so can you, my dear reader. I hope their stories of courage and success will empower you to reinvent yourself and rekindle the hope that your life too can be better and that your pain can be healed. Set your life course on a "better than cured" path that leads to your own profound and personal journey to healing and happiness. For more information about my medical career and my private practice, please visit my web site at drforest.com.
Friday, November 6, 2009
THE ARTIST IN EACH ONE OF US or THE DAY TO DAY CREATIVITY
How many times when, being upset, we find refuge in listening to music, journaling, write a letter to a friend or watch an uplifting movie and, after a little while, we feel better? Why are these actions helpful? Because instinctively, when uncomfortable, we turn to our inner sense of beauty, joy and harmony to soothe our momentary emotional edge.
We are all undiscovered artists. But our creativity comes up in many different forms, at unexpected times, often in unexpected ways. Suddenly, it hits us, seemingly out of nowhere. In the morning of the day I visited the Nijo Castle in Kyoto, I woke up without having any idea that, that day, I would fall in love with Japanese brush painting. Yet, I did, by watching a fragile chrysanthemum petal venturing astray from the orderly bloom, on the gold gilded screens decorating the Hall of Chrysanthemums in the castle.
Many of my patients discovered the "artist inside" in desperate, painful situations. One of my patients helped herself survive by writing poetry when her knee replacement surgery went horribly wrong. Another patient discovered water colors while trying to find a way to deal with the death of her husband. Yet another patient, dealing with severe social anxiety, discovered that photography was offering him respite. "When I look at the world through the lens of my camera, I can narrow the entire world down to a small window, and it becomes so much less intimidating." At first, the only times he was not anxious, was when he was taking pictures. Going from there, he reacquainted himself gradually with the world at large, to a point where now he "forgets" to be overwhelmed by it and his panic attacks have melted away.
In broader terms, almost anything can be "art," in the sense that it appeals to our sense of beauty and harmony. Arranging the plants in the garden in a certain pattern that looks good to us, or pruning a shrub, getting dressed in the morning and choosing certain clothes because they "go well together," rearranging and redecorating a room in the house, cooking a new and sophisticated dish--all of these action could qualify as day to day art that requires creativity to make them happen.
There are many art forms we instinctively adopt. For example the street artists who made out of graffiti a new art form, or break dancing that started in the streets and then became a well known dance form. And, yes my dear bloggers, even blogging, if you look at it this way, is a contemporary art form. Many blogs I read are about coping with life through writing--using the creative art of writing to cope with a night of insomnia, living in a foreign culture, recalling treasured memories from the past, coping with change or loneliness or parenthood. Many bloggers also become, for a moment, graphic artists and decorate their blogs in visually unique ways. Many become ad-hoc photographers, trying to convey to others the beauty of a special moment, when the light of a sunsetting sun strikes just so the forested hills they have to cross on their way home. It's all art. I think you all experienced at some point the feeling of "being in the zone" or "going with the flow" when you do something creative. When I sit down and paint, suddenly it's morning. I've been painting all night and I feel still as excited and energized as I felt seven hours ago. It is the magic and the power of our creativity--awoken, alive, stimulated and fertile. It's this power that gives us a welcomed break from our pain, fears and, sometimes, a break from simply a mundane existence from which we desperately try to escape.
Giving ourselves permission to unearth these hidden talents we already posses, buried under layers and layers of day to day rush, chores and responsibilities, will make our lives more meaningful, more beautiful, more pleasant and, overall, easier.
What is your hidden talent and how did it help you get through?