If there is an empty circular line drawn on the backside of your magazine, what do you do with it? Does its hollowness bother you enough to do something about it? Perhaps, you’d want to make it more palpable with shading and more intricate with details? If creation is a driving force which builds empires and spurs productivity, then the pursuit of fulfillment is the fuel of our individual growth. One doesn’t exist without the other; consequently, the need for making the hole a bit less empty is a metaphor for both personal contentment and social evolution. It’s a subject of psychology, philosophy, sociology, and now, it’s a parole of the latest collective frenzy – coloring books for adults.
Every infection attracts its antidote, just as every social trend attracts its deniers. Three years since the Secret Garden has been published, the public has started to turn against its therapeutic potentials. Mostly initiated by anti-mainstream advocates, in whose nature it is to refuse every novelty, the discussion now focuses on the fact that coloring books for adults, both printed and digital, provide a false sense of mindfulness and personal achievement, simply because they restrict creativity with already drawn lines. Well, there is a simple argument for such a complaint and its children’s play. Like accused coloring books, a children’s play has no particular goal except for pleasure, and it’s still momentous for inner development and mental health. And with the hyper-connected, almost artificial, lives we’ve all been leading in the modern age, revisiting our inner child every once in a while cannot possibly be bad.
Here is why a digital coloring book is (regardless of what others will say) a perfect activity for enriching your leisure time.
1. Weariness Asks for Relief
Yes, coloring books are soothing. They are an unfinished draft to fill in with our personal excitement or struggles. The beginning of the story we are challenged to complete has already been set in front of us but that absolutely doesn’t mean that they are restrictive – in fact, they are encouraging. Same as always, we are faced with our inner demons and as if that isn’t enough, we are compelled to fight with external ones as well. In result, we are weary, dispirited, and anxious.
Now, the biggest complaint against this trend addresses its allegedly false advertising: headlines dedicated to the promotion of coloring books all shout that they are therapeutic and art therapy experts shout back that they are really not. The confusion rests, like always, in an (un)intentional misinterpretation: coloring books cannot replace therapy for those in need of mental help, but can be and are therapeutic for those with occasional obstacles. Seen that way, this trend cannot help people with the psychological issues they cannot pinpoint by themselves and who require an expert to lead them through the process, but can doubtlessly help people who are aware of their current disillusionment and everyday emotional difficulties. So, if you’re feeling stressed out because you’ve returned home from a long work day only to find unwashed dishes and unpaid bills, an hour of colorful journeying can help you relax and unwind.
2. Focus On Colors, Regain Control!
As mature, responsible individuals, we are condemned to go through our lives with deafening clutter of our mind. There’s simply too much to do, seek, and accomplish. When we add to all that noise those ringing reminders of who we once were and who we want to be in the future, the mess of our thoughts seems almost impossible to untangle. Consequently, our attention starts to ramble and our nerves to wear thin. The sense of structure we all seek in our mundane endeavors as well as in our overall life path is, in those moments, paramount for regaining control. In order to untangle the mess and silence our thoughts so that each of them can be heard clearly, we need to focus on one obstacle at a time. And before that, we need an hour of serenity to regroup our forces.
Digital coloring books are just one of many ways of doing so; still, what makes them the best choice is their unintimidating creative potential. Coloring doesn’t have any material purpose, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t increase the sense of personal self-esteem either. Unlike meaningless doodling, it’s an activity that initiates the soothing effects of aesthetics and results in a simple, but still encouraging sense of accomplishment. On the other hand, the process demands a few creative choices – something as insignificant as a selection of the color palette, mood and atmosphere can make us more focused and motivate us to regain control over much bigger problems. Sometimes, the tiniest sparkle is needed for lighting the murkiest of ways.
3. Nuance Your Day
To address the aforementioned discussion, we need to clarify one thing – coloring books are a leisure activity, not an art form. Similar to their therapeutic value, the creative potential of a coloring book has also been glorified in the media when they first arrived and therefore spurred much controversy. Art provokes meaning and coloring is a meaningless activity, as deniers claim. Once again, we are dealing with a misconception, which is why this statements cannot be viable. And, to avoid future confusion, let’s say that coloring is not a creation, but it certainly promotes creativity. This is significant especially when we consider that these books are designed for adults.
Our artistic efforts usually start to wane after adolescence, simply because this specific form of creation demands exceptional talent that cannot always be learned. If the talent is not shown, we are rarely encouraged to continue exploring the field. But making art doesn’t necessarily need to be utilitarian and the same applies to coloring books – as long as the result is meaningful to us, there’s no need of involving art puritans. Besides, getting in touch with our emotions is something we often forget about and choosing the right shade to reflect our current mood or satisfy our senses is exactly that.
4. A Childish Play
Somewhere beneath the piles of weariness, there is a child in each and every one of us. And, as Schiller once explained, “Deep meaning lies often in childish play”. Taking some time for ourselves and indulging our most fundamental human needs, the desire for playfulness being one of the big ones, has never been more important than now. We live too fast and dream too little. Modern age is all about meeting commitments and filling check-lists; at the end of the day, we question ourselves about how much we have achieved and what the purpose of it all is.
As thoughts of meaningfulness occupy our minds, we forget that not everything has to produce palpable results. Some purposes simply cannot be seen or felt immediately and such is the purpose of a naïve, nonsensical childish play. Ultimately, that’s a difference between creation and a game – one thrives in meaning and other in pleasure. Therefore, if you feel the need of using your fancy new digital device for something more than work, an hour of coloring is not an hour spent in vain. Your inner child needs it in order to inspire you, rekindle your spirit and strengthen your will for whatever awaits you in your adulthood.
5. Expression and Emotion
Peace of mind, structure, creativity, and inner growth are all vital steps on our journey toward personal fulfillment. There will never be a time when beauty will not be needed and if simple act of making a forest green or watching a flower come alive from the screen can make you notice it again, then follow your instincts and do it! Colouring brings new depths, shades, and nuances to otherwise monotonous life, which is something no social researcher or art therapist can deny. Its calming effects are a form of both meditation and personal expression. An hour spent with colors can settle your thoughts and animate your senses. You can make a coloring book your little arts & crafts project and take some time to ponder on the meaning that hides behind a story you want to tell. On the other hand, you can use it for a fifteen-minute breather from the world of tough choices. One simple mandala can help you pass your time or evoke a long-forgotten spirituality. Either way, colors symbolize and inspire emotions in the most spontaneous way and emotions are the first step on our way to self-reflection and ultimately, mindfulness.
Surging popularity of escapist trends is a perfect indicator of the times we now live in. Hyper-connectivity, cubicle restriction, and emotional scantiness are the biggest scourges of modern era, but that certainly doesn’t mean we can’t turn the digitalism in our favor – digital coloring books are only one way of doing it.