Why Art and Creativity Matter

While many of us perceive art merely as entertainment, there exists a profound depth to its functions. Art sparks breakthroughs in creativity and innovation. Notably, even Nobel Laureates find inspiration in artistic avocations. There is also a growing body of scientific evidence that art serves as a catalyst for healing, and well-being and boosting our brain power endeavors may even reduce the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Your brain on art

Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us, authored by Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross, is a fascinating exploration into the science of neuroaesthetics and provides the latest evidence of the transformative power of the arts on our brains and bodies.

Their work goes beyond considering the arts as mere entertainment, revealing how activities from painting and dancing to expressive writing and architecture are essential to our lives.

The book provides insights into how art enhances brain function, connectivity, and plasticity, increases empathy and serotonin levels, and changes a person’s outlook and experience of the world. It also explores how art influences brain development, well-being, and recovery from neurological conditions

You don’t have to be skilled in the arts to reap benefits

Susan Magsamen, founder and executive director of the International Arts + Mind Lab at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Pedersen Brain Science Institute, emphasizes that you don’t have to be skilled in the arts to reap benefits. In fact, the key is to be fully immersed in the experience.

“Society says, ‘Oh, well, if you’re not talented, you shouldn’t do it,’” Magsamen says, “and that is the biggest mistake people make.”

Contrary to common misconceptions, there are no barriers to entry into the arts. Everyone, regardless of artistic talent, can engage in artistic pursuits for the sake of play and curiosity.

I agree. When it comes to art or anything else you want to learn, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly (to paraphrase Zig Ziglar). Keep learning and you will get better. That’s what having a creative mindset is all about.

What is Art?

That’s a hard question to answer. Marshall McLuhan famously said, “Art is what you can get away with.Magsamen defines art as anything that engages your senses. Think dancing, sewing, crocheting, journaling, gardening, or cooking. Even shutting off other distractions to listen to music or walk through nature is a form of art, especially if you are practising the fine art of paying attention. Fair enough.

The transformative potential of adding an art activity into your routine  is striking.

The authors tell us engaging in an art practice for just 20 minutes a day can lead to improved mood and reduced stress levels.

Incorporating an art activity into your routine can increase life expectancy by 10 years. Stimulating the brain through artistic endeavors may even reduce the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s.

The key is to embrace the power of the senses, reinforcing the idea that art is not just for the creatives but is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle.

If you’d like to see my brain on art have a look at my Instagram feed and my gallery page.


Another great book on creativity is The Creative Act: A Way of Being, by legendary music producer, Rick Rubin

Rick Rubin is a nine-time GRAMMY-winning producer, named one of the ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’ by TIME and ‘The most successful producer in any genre’ by Rolling Stone. He has collaborated with artists from Tom Petty to Adele, Johnny Cash to Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys to Slayer, The Strokes and System of a Down to Jay-Z.

Rick Rubin is known for creating a space where artists of all different genres and traditions can hone in on who they really are and what they really offer. He has made a practice of helping people transcend their self-imposed expectations in order to reconnect with a state of innocence from which the surprising becomes inevitable.

It is evident from his writing that he has thought deeply about where creativity comes from and where it doesn’t. He observes that “Being an artist isn’t about your specific output; it’s about your relationship to the world. Creativity has a place in everyone’s life, and everyone can make that place larger. In fact, there are few more important responsibilities.”

I marvel at the wisdom he has distilled from his life’s work. He illuminates the path of the artist and invites all of us to participate. I find his writing poetic and soul-satisfying to read. His reflections wake me up to my own remembrances of being an artist in work and in life.

He writes, “I set out to write a book about what to do to make a great work of art. Instead, it revealed itself to be a book on how to be.”

Anne Lamott calls The Creative Act, “A gorgeous and inspiring work of art on creation, creativity, the work of the artist. It will gladden the hearts of writers and artists everywhere, and get them working again with a new sense of meaning and direction. A stunning accomplishment.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Give yourself the gift of these two gems:

Your Brain on Art and The Creative Act  are best sellers and have received rave reviews in the press. Moreover, every creative person I know loves these books!

Want to delve deeper into the transformative power of the arts?

Consider joining my online hybrid course, Creative Resilience: How to Flourish in the Face of Life’s Challenges.

I’ve drawn upon research from neuroscience and designed a learning journey that includes a broad spectrum of arts activities from my own experience as an artist, including drawing, painting, music, photography, video, writing, and poetry. As one course participant told me, it helped her get out of a creative rut.

Creative Resilience Course


Creative Resilience: How to Flourish in the Face of Life’s Challenges

This course is built on five core principles, merging cutting-edge neuroscience, the science of human flourishing, and the transformative power of the arts.

Learn how to navigate change with agility, optimism and resilience. Picture yourself armed with the creative tools to not just bounce back but to leap forward, finding ingenious solutions to life’s complexities.

Join our community of learners in monthly live video calls. Connect, ask questions, and share your progress with like-minded individuals on a similar path to greatness.

Intrigued? Ready to embark on a journey of self-discovery, creativity and resilience?