Well-Being with Whitney: Pursuing Happiness: Creativity and The Silk Road Ensemble

Searching for happiness? Be creative. Creativity is a major factor in the search for joy. The well-being link between happiness and the creative process was on display powerfully at a concert I attended of the Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma. As Ma commented in the program notes, the group members “find joy in unexpected connections” they create together musically.

A recent research study from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro found that even simple creative activities like cooking meals or drawing pictures lead people to experience joy. The study concluded that “people who reported feeling happy and active were more likely to be doing something creative at the time.”

Sparks of creative energy flew between the musicians as they joyfully played their respective instruments — representing a wide variety of musical traditions from diverse nations — and  listened to each other. The result? They created wonderful music in which they all complemented in each other. Somehow, a Chinese pipa, Galician Spanish bagpipes, and an Iranian kamancheh all blended together to create harmonious music.

The Silk Road Ensemble’s original arrangement of the classic jazz standard “Take the A Train” was my favorite, since they incorporated many unusual instruments (along with more popular ones, like Yo-Yo Ma’s famous cello) and performed with such playful camaraderie. During the song, the joy was evident on each musician’s face, as well as the faces of those of us listening in the audience. The creative, joyful energy pulled me into a blissful state of mind, where I could let go of my inhibitions and join the celebration. So I snapped my fingers to the beat and swayed in my chair to the music (not worrying that my son, who was sitting next to me, told me I looked goofy).

Not only did Silk Road Ensemble members play music; they did so with so much innovation and happiness that they made something new and notable happen. That type of experience is what Yo-Yo Ma refers to when he describes how a good musician “goes beyond knowing and expressing a tradition and becomes an agent of its evolution, creating something new.”

What do you most enjoy doing as a creative outlet? How often have you made time for it lately? What activities can you say “no” to on your schedule to make more room to say “yes” to what truly brings you joy?

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One Response to “Well-Being with Whitney: Pursuing Happiness: Creativity and The Silk Road Ensemble”

  1. Gina Brindley says:

    Great blog! Love the Silk Road Ensemble’s diversity and creativity. I listen to their music a lot.

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