Ways to Be a Happier Musician (Even When Things Seem Hopeless)
The spectrum of potential difficulties and hardships you’ll face as an independent musician are vast, from physically grueling tours to financial struggles to the ever-looming fear that your career’s going nowhere. And let’s not forget that all your feels are on display to either be loved or ripped apart by an audience every time you play (or anytime they listen to your recordings). All things considered, how do you manage to stay positive?
Happiness, in a way, is made of good habits. You can guide yourself toward contentment: Avoid certain negative behaviors that contribute to chronic unhappiness, and adopt those that promote positive feelings. If you’re looking for a change in your outlook, here are seven ways to help you get started.
1. Take care of yourself
You know this already: you’ll feel better overall if you eat well, exercise, get good sleep, and don’t binge on alcohol or drugs. You don’t have to go fully health-obsessed to reap rewards, though. It can be difficult to be mindful of all this on the road, but even a little extra attention to your physical well-being can be beneficial to your overall happiness.
2. Avoid comparing yourself to others
Someone else’s achievements are just that – theirs and theirs alone. You don’t need to feel weakened by someone else’s strength. Let them inspire you, sure, but don’t forget that their path is a completely different one than your own. You shape your own life.
3. Embrace your style
Not only should you avoid comparing yourself to others, but also know that wholly embracing your own style can be a huge confidence (read: happiness) booster. It’s not always easy, especially at first, but learning to trust your own point of view – your voice – is ultimately more fulfilling than constantly trying to match the standards or expectations of other people.
4. Reframe your thinking about responsibilities
Instead of saying, “I have to do this today,” tell yourself you get to do it. When it comes to your obligations as a musician booking tours, doing promo, playing a late-night show that shouldn’t be too hard, even if you’re in the middle of a lengthy tour. After all, the life you love is making music with your friends, right?
5. Avoid internalizing mistakes
You’re gonna screw up from time to time. Just accept it. Everyone makes mistakes. Instead of wallowing, focus on learning from your mistake. Let that knowledge make you feel wiser and more confident as you move forward.
6. Don’t let others drag you down
You’re going to encounter a lot of negativity as a musician. That’s the nature of an industry where artists put their creativity on display for public consumption (and judgment). Sometimes situations feel inescapable, like a musician in your scene who’s always trying to one-up you or a local writer who perpetually pans your albums. In these cases, remember that you control your own happiness; nobody can take that control away without you relinquishing it.
7. Be kind to others
Generosity towards your fellow musicians and folks in your local scene can make you feel happier, and being generally nice can make you feel better overall. You believe that already, right? In case you don’t, rest assured, there are studies that prove it.