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Want to Feel Differently? Art Can Change Your Life In An Instant

One time, I wanted to help take my cousin’s mind off her father’s cancer diagnosis and, under the impression from the trailer that the movie was a straight-up comedy, I took her to see Terms of Endearment. (*sigh*)

So much for that! Yet, all these years later I stick to my original premise. Art can make us feel different – perhaps even better.


As I was preparing to go to Costa Rica last week to see my daughter, who is volunteering there,

a song from They Might Be Giants popped up in my music feed. It’s been AGES since I listened to They Might Be Giants! Was so fun to be reminded of their silly, witty lyrics. Also, I have a place for them in my heart because one of them was from Sudbury, MA, where my kids were born and where they sang their little hearts out to “Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas)” in a kindergarten performance.

So there I was, last week, packing for Costa Rica. I heard this song and was instantly catapulted into a state of near euphoria. Just like that. This is what art can do. And, when you stop to consider it, this is pretty powerful stuff. It’s like a superpower. And you can use this superpower to change the way you feel if you are ever in a place of wanting to change the way you feel - minus any addictive substances.

The goal is not to feel “great” or “awesome” but simply to feel somewhat better, even if it’s just a smidge.

I recommend trying these “art” shortcuts ONLY IF you are not slap dab in the middle of deep loss and grief. When you are in a state of deep grief and loss, you get to feel however you want to feel with no apology. I hereby hand you a serving bowl full of ice cream and a heated blanket. Just go rest.

For that matter, you don’t even have to apologize for feeling slightly less than blissful. But, you know, sometimes a person wishes he or she could feel better and is tired of feeling like warmed over crap. In this post, I invite you to think of all the specific, artistic creations that lift you up.

For me, it’s hard to listen to this TMBG song (and pretty much ANY song by TMBG) and not be lifted somewhat – no matter where my baseline mood is. What kind of music or art makes you feel elevated? What makes you laugh or inspires you? Even if it’s YouTube baby goat or cat videos, let’s just go ahead and call it art!

We get to decide how we think and feel. Want to feel better? You probably can – even if just marginally. Sometimes, marginally - or infinitesimally – better is a huge relief. All it takes is one up-close look at a statue or a song you haven’t heard in decades.

Again, if you stop to think about the power in that. It’s sort of a miracle. Something that somebody somewhere created in a studio or basement has reached through time and space at a specific moment and altered your life in that instant.


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