It was George Bernard Shaw who said “Youth is wasted on the young.” I sometimes remind my young adult sons about this when they are getting uppity. This amusing quote, like all good quotes, has more than a grain of truth to it, especially when you reach your 50s and 60s.
But how about we look at this quote from another angle. How about “Let us not waste our hard earned wisdom in old age.” I like that idea. Then it struck me how much painting is helping me during this time of life.
The Journey to Mindfulness
Let me explain. When I was a much younger man painting was about skill and show. I had to get the skills to steal the show – or something like that. I had to stand out, sell paintings, and grow in reputation like any ambitious young person, I guess. This is fine to a point, but I missed the bigger picture since my focus was just on my career.
Painting and Awareness
Over the years I had to learn more about a balanced life. You may have had similar concerns in your career, too. Try as I might, I simply could not get into the meditation concept.
Practicing meditation is still very difficult for me. But it was through painting that I could disconnect from the stresses of everyday life. By doing this I became aware of thoughts that were causing me problems. When I painted, those ideas and thoughts disappeared – often not to return.
Why Being Aware Is So Important
The world has witnessed some of the most important events in a long time. If you look at the world pandemic, wars in different locations, and US elections… well, let’s just say, the past years have been tough. I have no political views to put forward. But I do see that people are very emotional.
The power of ideas can stir up unfortunate emotions where people say and do things that they regret later on. We all have our limits. I am no different. But it does help to see one’s behaviour and put the brakes on quickly. Awareness makes this possible.
Painting Makes the Difference
Without the pause that painting gives me, I would be another touchy and reactionary person of the 21st Century. For many people starting retirement today, the world can seem like a scary place indeed. Sadly, most people start retirement without the skills needed to cope with this time of life. With too much time to think about problems there can be very little peace of mind. Drama takes over every day.
If you have thought about giving painting a go, or you are a lapsed painter, I do encourage you to dive right in without a second thought. There is more to painting than putting paint on a canvas. It is a deeply intellectual pursuit without an end. You do not complete the game and look for something new. It is a journey of self-discovery that will help you see the world and your own life more clearly.
Mindfulness means being aware of your thoughts, understanding them better and being able to let them go. Very often our worries are simply imaginary. If we see them for what they are they lose power over us and we can be free of them.
Use Painting to Find Peace of Mind
Painting is one of many ways to develop mindfulness. It just happens to be the one method that has worked for me. Many artists that I have met over time say the same thing. So I hope you will forgive my esoteric essay, but if it does encourage you to pick up a paint brush and ease your worries then I am happy.
Ready to learn more? I have a special offer exclusively for Sixty and Me readers for my course, Learn to Paint With Impact. Plus, a bonus personal painting assessment and written critique when you join. Find out more.
Let’s Have a Conversation:
What has been your experience with painting and mindfulness? Does it help you cope with your retirement? What other strategies do you use to develop mindfulness? Please share with the community.