When we’re feeling lonely, maybe the best thing to do is pick up a paint brush or pen and express how we’re feeling. Dr. Jeremy Nobel is a primary-care physician, public health practitioner and poet with faculty appointments at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard Medical School. He is the founder and president of the Foundation for Art & Healing, and he joins host Krys Boyd to discuss how we can use creative expression to connect with others. His book is “Project UnLonely: Healing Our Crisis of Disconnection.”
Cultivating a culture of connection
By Shaunessy Renker, Think Intern
Loneliness is on the rise and we live in a society that’s becoming increasingly disconnected. The prominence of social media today is affecting our ability to connect deeply with one another. Whether you are introvert who is content in their own company or an extrovert who feels alone even while surrounded by people, it can be difficult to gage where your threshold for loneliness lies. Chronic loneliness is an indicator that we need to connect deeply with others, and it can be catalyst for mental illness to come.
“Loneliness is a signal that there’s something you need—in this case human connection,” says Dr. Jeremy Nobel, author of [Project UnLonely: Healing Our Crisis of Disconnection]. “Curiosity is a way to respond to that signal.”
Exploring the arts is not only a great way to learn what type of loneliness you are experiencing and express those feelings through a creative medium, but it is a means through which you can meet and connect with more people.
Nobel says, “what the arts also allow you to produce is some kind of artifact—a poem, a drawing, a dance move—that allows you to put those thoughts and feelings into an expressive form where other people can make sense of who you are. They can recognize you as the unique person and the unique story we all have and then relate to that in a very personal and direct way.”
Through making art, one reveals their vulnerabilities, and this incites feelings of comfortability in others. By disclosing more about your life, you indicate that you trust the others enough to do so. Not only are you building connections with others while creating art, but you can explore your vulnerabilities together.
“We need to cultivate a culture of connection,” says Nobel.