Coloring is not just for kids anymore. I can’t count how many adults have said to me, “I don’t know what all the fuss is about; I never stopped coloring.” Still, the fact that in 2015, according to the New York Post, nearly half the books on Amazon’s bestseller list were adult coloring books is newsworthy and heartening. This means people are turning away from their screens, resisting the urge to tweet, update, email, or text, - and choosing instead to create a bit of beauty. If you haven’t jumped on the adult coloring bandwagon yet, here are ten reasons you should:
1. Coloring offers a sweet and simple way to practice presence. We live in a fast-paced, info-packed, high-octane society, where locating our own significance is sometimes the biggest challenge of all and feeling lost in the jostling crowd is the norm. Coloring offers an opportunity to pause, to sit quietly with yourself and zone in, rather than zone out. Like meditation and yoga, coloring is a quiet, self-affirming activity, one that has the advantage of being less demanding than other mindfulness practices, without being passive.
2. Coloring increases your ability to focus. Attempting to color in the lines (or consciously coloring outside them) focuses the brain in a way that isn’t stressful. It not only allows you to let go of everyday worries for a short period of time, but refocuses that energy on a tangible, creative task.
3. Coloring makes you a better thinker. In working with the detailed drawings of adult coloring books and considering color palettes that are aesthetically pleasing, you activate the parts of your mind responsible for organization and problem solving. It’s like going to school, only more fun.
4. Coloring reduces anxiety. As mentioned earlier, coloring takes your attention away from the things that are stressing you out and focuses it on the creative task at hand. The lines waiting for you on a coloring page provide structure to the creative process and allow you to access your imaginative and creative mindset.
5. Coloring awakens the child in you. By indulging in an activity we all loved as children, you tap into a simpler self and time - before you were burdened with the idea that everything you do needs to make money, whittle your waistline, or impact the world. If there is value in being awed and delighted by our everyday existence (and I firmly believe there is), then I think coloring might be one of the fastest, most enjoyable ways to reach that place inside yourself that is most capable of joy and wonder.
6. Coloring fosters a creative life. So many of us long to be more creative. Our lives are demanding. There are people to care for, jobs to do, bills to pay, our health to attend to, while inside us, there is often a creative itch we can’t seem to scratch. Adult coloring books are easy. You don’t have to take a class, or buy expensive supplies, or create an expansive work space. A coffee table, a coloring book and some colored pencils are all it takes to get the creativity ball rolling.
7. Coloring expands your creative mind. Since I’ve been illustrating the Inkspirations coloring books (www.inkspirations.com) , many people have told me they have trouble, for better or worse, “coloring inside the lines.” I tell them to embrace that! The decision to color inside or outside the lines is, metaphorically, the most fundamental creative question of all. There is no right answer, and finding your own answer is the beginning of thinking more creatively in every aspect of life.
8. Coloring is an act of self-love. Every time we take time for ourselves, every time we devote energy to enjoying our own unique, frustrating, wonderful, maddening lives, we expand our capacity for joy. All love starts with self-love. In a society where it’s all too easy to forget about our own needs, coloring is just one more (playful) way to remember we matter too.
9. Coloring can improve your social life. It’s true. All over the world, coloring clubs, events, and parties are taking place. Coloring – a solitary activity by nature – done in the company of likeminded souls becomes a community-building practice.
10. Coloring brings more beauty to the world. As a coloring book illustrator, I am the happy recipient of many colored masterpieces. I get them in email and over social media, and I love how brazenly joyful these creations and their creators are.
And maybe that’s the best of reason of all to take up coloring. Because, arguably now more than ever, the world needs more brazen joy.