With so much unrest happening in the world, emotional upheaval, and anger making us dig out our placards; being an adult is getting so much harder. It feels like we need to regress a bit, put together an adult survival kit and well…get out our colouring books. Adult colouring books, I hear, has the same benefits as yoga and meditation and the only decision you have to make is… which colour crayon to use next. Already we're in a state of nirvana.
However, given the fact five of the top ten best sellers on Amazon are adult colouring books, I have yet to see anyone in public with one. Which makes me wonder…where are all the adults using these colouring books? It seems, according to my friends (most of them owning at least one colouring book), they are on the shelf waiting for the right time. In other words, waiting for a time when our survival doesn't depend on clocks.
My artist friend Susan McKenna puts it this way; "We have too much stuff, not enough time and a craving for every passing fad, which is why there are mountains of colouring books gathering dust on people's bookshelves. There’s likely one image half coloured in with all that new trend eagerness and then, it’s forgotten and left on the shelf in the homes of all those folk who also bought a George Forman grill. Maybe they were all hopeful of a calmer, healthier new life but the novelty has now worn off and they have now gone out for dinner and are sitting around the table staring at their phones.”
I hope not. As a mother with two young children I see the calming effects colouring books have on them, except of course when I've joined them and had to witness an angry child who is upset about me using the wrong type of red to colour in Mickey Mouse's shorts. That, aside, I do think we're missing the potential to…and I am going to quote the title of one of the best-selling adult colouring books to put the point across… 'Calm the f@@k down'. Obviously, we're now deviating away from mandalas, which was the original concept and addressing more heated emotions by colouring in our swear words.
Perhaps that's how we need to view colouring books and look at the situations which make us want to use colourful vocabulary - I mean who hasn't been in an argument and thought after, I shouldn't have reacted like that? But could emotions have been managed better if there had been a colouring book around to cool our verbal interactions? Or reacting to a text or email in which you later realise, err…I should have waited before kicking off with a heated outburst, and thrown my phone across the room.
You know, a colouring book really has the potential to save us from our first reactions, and give us a bit of breathing space in a calmer, more relaxed and actually more sophisticated way.
The reality is that we are going to get angry from time to time and a colouring book has the potential to stop our mood getting to the next level. And you know what? I think colouring books might just help get us through adulthood too.