Can you really derive any health
benefits from coloring books? I did a Google search and came up with
the usual content marketing fare. You know it is content marketing,
because most of these articles essentially sound the same; there is a
distinct echo chamber effect. They all tout the same coloring books
and the same list of claims, namely -
a. Coloring books bring about stress
b. Coloring books help quiet your mind.
c. Coloring books improve focus.
d. Coloring books foster creativity.
e. Coloring books improve your social
Now I'm not knocking these – if you
do find coloring books therapeutic, excellent! Keep right on
coloring, and be sure to check out my books as well - but it seems to
me that these benefits are hardly confined to coloring books. You
could take any activity that you enjoy – knitting, sewing, drawing,
painting, and so on – and make the very same claims. You could also
take an activity that is not normally seen as 'fun' – washing
dishes, sweeping the house, doing the laundry, or weeding the garden
– and come up with a similar conclusion. Sometimes I do wonder if
we are conditioned to believe that certain activities are relaxing
while others are sheer drudgery. I mention this because I have, at
times, caught myself enjoying doing the dishes, particularly
when I'm not thinking what a punishment I'm enduring.
So, anyway, what it comes down to is
that while coloring books are fun to color, if you derive anything
else in addition, that is entirely due to your own personality and
your willingness to be open to experience. So, it is not coloring
books that bring the actual health benefits, but our own mind. It is
our own thinking and the attitude we bring to the things and events
in our life. What coloring books – and a sundry other activities –
do is assist us to step back and focus on something other than the
problems confronting us. This distraction
- and particularly if it translates to the flow state of mind where
you get so engrossed in the activity at hand that you don't notice
the passing time - is what is good for mental well-being. Just buying
a coloring book and filling it with all the colors of the rainbow and
their variations is not going to relieve you of your troubles – if
anyone makes this claim, they are trying to sell you snake oil.
in contrast to the claims of health benefits, there are 'experts' who
denigrate the burgeoning popularity of coloring books. They
would never use coloring books
in therapy, they say. They would
considering coloring books as therapeutic. They
would refuse to call
coloring a creative activity, because, as everyone knows, being
already told so by the experts themselves, coloring within the lines
is not creative; it
is, in fact, conducive to stifling creativity.
akin to the difference between listening to music and actually
playing music, one expert claimed.
thought that was a very interesting thing to say, because, unless you
are a composer playing strictly your own compositions, you – if you
play – play music that other people created. In short, you are
coloring in other people's lines. And nobody roars that it is an
outrage and that you are stifling your creativity. No, they applaud
your 'interpretation' (if they have a fine ear and if you are worthy
of applause, that is).
personal opinion is that 'experts' should not even be brought into
the equation. Coloring is such a benign pastime, after all. If
coloring books bring you joy and entertain you, be joyful and be
entertained. If they help with self-contemplation and self-discovery,
all the more better. Why do you need an expert to analyze the whole
thing for you?
sad reflection on current society (and I've no doubt that people in
the past said the same thing about their societies) that we even need
self-appointed gurus to develop our 'taste' for us. If a certain
activity brings you delight – and it is not harming you or anyone
else – continue doing it and ignore everybody that tells you that
it is 'childish' or 'not creative'. Don't let them wring out your
enthusiasm with their 'expertise'.
rephrase a cliche, life is too short to be lived according to other
people's perception of what constitutes proper adult behavior. For
some of us, after all, proper adult behavior is minding our own
business and not discouraging and belittling others needlessly.
as for 'not creative', alright, okay, even if by some measure it
isn't, so what? Why does everything have to have a creative point? Or
why does it need to be creative according to someone else's
until the experts came along to say it wasn't so, appear to have
claimed that coloring in coloring books was high art - although, I
have seen such marvelous
works by some very talented colorists on my Facebook Coloring Groups
that it makes me wonder why can't we
stop being snotty and stretch the definition of high art and include
first place though, it is strange to imply that something isn't
worthwhile because it isn't high art. A lot of things aren't high
art. Again, so what?
self-expression is quite sufficient. And, ahem, healthy.
In parting, again, be sure to check out my coloring books.