Beauty is everywhere — you only have to look to see it.
We are wired to miss the vast majority of what goes on around us. As we hurry through the moments and people in our lives each day, most of us have nothing much to say or to think about it. Even with our propensity to snap photos of everything, we still do not stop to really consider what is happening in those photographs.
There is something all of us would benefit from, and that is attempting to draw the things we see around us, regardless of whether we have a talent for doing it. An invaluable practice, when we take time to draw, we are training ourselves to see the world more intimately.
Noticing What’s There
Immersing yourself in the lines and shapes, as invisible details come into focus, the sketcher perceives overlooked details and characteristics that make something beautiful, unique, or funny. With careful consideration, they capture the minutest parts of a moment.
Even without much talent, drawing extends a charming invitation for storytelling. In this space we are free to express and explore—as we notice how nothing is actually boring or unremarkable. Even when the drawing is messy or amateur, often it will still capture the essence of the moment—a smile, a funny hairdo, a meaningful activity. Many people don’t draw because they can’t draw well, but that’s not really the point.
To draw is to love someone as we capture their essence; to live something over again as we take time to re-create the significance within a moment, and to truly see as we pause to understand and construct a scene. Drawing helps us remember and be grateful for moments and people, through thoughtful elaboration of details. Unlike viewing a photograph, drawing allows us to absorb the moment fully as we reconstruct people and things in ways that are meaningful to us. Drawing is also a healthy way to let out our streak of insanity inside, and by insanity I mean our exaggerated perspective of people, things and situations.
Drawing for Gratitude
Gratitude — a state of appreciation that makes us more present and connected.
Research shows that gratitude is strongly linked with a greater sense of happiness and well-being. Appreciating moments and people increases our optimism, relieves depression, improves immune function, and lowers blood pressure. And while gratitude journaling is a hot topic these days, and incredibly valuable, we can also consider adding doodling to our daily practice.
We think a lot about what goes wrong each day, as we get caught up in a frustrating interaction, the spilled coffee, the dogs barf on the carpet, and all of the little nuisances that overshadow the positive moments. What if we used drawing as an on-ramp to gratitude… Finding humility and humour in the frustrations; what connects us as opposed to disconnects, and an awareness that we are part of something bigger that we can’t take for granted…
Drawing as Meditation
Drawing helps us relax by forcing us to pay attention to details in the moment and the environment we are drawing, which mimics the experience of mediation. Drawing allows you to relax without rules, as you slip away into the flow of sketching whatever you want; while you giggle away by yourself in total freedom.
365 Days of Drawing for Happiness
I recently finished a full year of daily cartoons. This 20 minute morning practice was a heartwarming feeling that encouraged me to be more present and grateful. The simple act sketching a funny happenstance from the previous day really worked to bring me a sense of joy.
With technology, media and busyness these days, we have to work at methods and practices to break the cycle of stress, anxiety and fear. And so I challenge you to doodle once a day, as a way to experience freedom, joy and presence; to disentangle yourself from negative experiences, relax and focus on the positive.