HOW TO BE A HAPPY MUSICIAN by Alex Walsh

 

happy-musician-1-editThis is a HAAAARRRRDDDDD topic! It sounds so simple, but it is deep and profound.

A Happy Musician Thinks About Money, But Knows It’s Not The Most Important Thing—

The Dalai Lama says, “It is better to want what you have than to have what you want.”

Okay, stop. I need to unravel my pretzeled-out mind before I continue. What does that really mean in everyday life? Want what you have and that’s it? What if I want a new guitar?

“Economists find that money makes truly poor people happier insofar as it relieves pressure from everyday life — getting enough to eat, having a place to live, taking your kid to the doctor. But scholars like the Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman have found that once people reach a little beyond the average middle-class income level, even big financial gains don’t yield much, if any, increases in happiness.”
Arthur C. Brooks, NYT “A Formula For Happiness”

I have experienced this crazy-making cycle myself: Wanting more money, the thrill of getting more money, and then wanting more money. I actually would like more money right now. I read somewhere recently that we are wired to want about 20% more than what we have (I tried to find the source on the internet, but alas, could not. So much for my journalism skills!). So what is the most important thing?

A Happy Musician Knows The Most Important Thing Is People–

And this brings us back to the zombie apocalypse. But seriously, Arthur C. Brooks had another article in the NYT titled, “Love People Not Pleasure” (that’s where I got the Dalai Lama quote). That’s GREAT news for musicians because I’ve heard the music business is all about networking. I don’t know how that applies to musicians who need to audition to get into an orchestra, but my guess is that if they win it, putting people first helps them keep the job. Brooks’ article concludes with the idea: “Love People, Not Things.” But I do love my guitar(s)(s)(s)(s).

Career Satisfaction?

I just read on the internet that we need to find MEANING in our work, and this is what we need to do while we pursue happiness. Dang, that’s a whole other subject! I hope it doesn’t contradict what I just wrote. I spent a lot of time on it!

And Finally, For A Quick Attitude Adjustment…Exercise–

Playing music is supposed to do wonders for the brain, so I was hoping that exercise is not needed for musicians because it doesn’t really come naturally to me.  But over the years I’ve found exercise to be helpful to get me out of a funk.  Here’s a cool up to date article about how running improves our health and mood. As they always say, check with your doctor first. Oh, and eat your vegetables.

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