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I received this today as part of a newsletter from the Indiana Arts Commission and thought you all might want to read about how happy we all are whether we knew it or not.

National Study Suggests People Involved Professionally in the Arts are Happier

Studies of happiness and well-being suggest that participating in the arts should lead to increased life satisfaction, self efficacy, "flow" like experiences, and an overall improved outlook on life.

A new study by the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), confirms this relationship: among college students and the general public, actively making or presenting art is related to increased feelings of well-being and a more positive social outlook.

(See Artful Living: Examining the relationship between artistic practice and subjective well-being across three national surveys).

Based on analysis of more than 2,000 respondents to the 2009 Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAPP) survey (the only year the survey asked about general life satisfaction), research director Steven Tepper found that arts graduates who currently make and perform art professionally are happier than those who are not professional artists. If you train to be an artist, generally you will be happier if you actually get a job as an artist.

But what of arts graduates who make or perform art as an avocation, outside of work, are they happier than former art students who have largely stopped making art? Surprisingly, the answer appears to be "no."

The research finds that former arts students receive no additional boost in life satisfaction when they continue to make and perform art in ones spare time. The key issue here may be the amount of time available for the person to meet their own artistic goals. There are indications that former arts students are happier when they continue to do their artistic work outside of their regular jobs, but only when they feel they have adequate time to do that work at the desired level.

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Comment by Albert Jonas on August 4, 2014 at 7:56pm
Art nurtures and nourishes the soul. Creativity allows the imagination to freely flow beyond the boundary of what is known to fllourish in the wonder and uncertainty of the unknown.
The persuit of one's passion then easily and simply translates into the joy of one's purpose.
Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on August 3, 2014 at 10:50am

I have to squeeze time into my life to do something creative right now.  It is an hour here and an hour there.  I wish I had more time for it but whenever I finish a project I do feel good about it.  Being able to work on something is therapy (my dad's thought).  So, I am happy to squeeze that into my life any time I can and I do feel I am rewarded for those few stolen therapeutic moments.

Comment by Christina L. Towell on August 2, 2014 at 9:17am

This is an interesting article, Christine, thanks for sharing it with us here.  Now that I'm retired (I hope), I plan to throw myself into creating and selling my work to help pay the bills.  For me, knitting/felting has always been like meditation and I find that I am not only happier but much more relaxed when I can add it to my daily routine.

Comment by Connie Mettler on August 1, 2014 at 11:04am

I am reading a book now, "The Gift", that talks about this issue, and about artists trying to make it part time. It talks about Walt Whitman and Ezra Pound and how Whitman really found his muse by giving himself away, first through dedication to nursing during the Civil War, and how it gave meaning to his life and subsequently to his art (although he was always, always poor). 

Then about Pound's support of people like T.S. Eliot and James Joyce, begging others for money for them so they could be released from the jobs that were draining them. 

My take: Devoting your life to your art and taking those risks, and not expecting large financial rewards, but the solace of being able to pursue and create is more satisfying than doing it "on the side." It is such a trade off between doing "soul work" and devoting yourself to that and not pursuing your art. Artists are surprised when they find out how leaving the paycheck behind makes the art grow. 

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