Q&A with Clare Bowditch

In anticipation of Clare’s appearance at the Happiness and Its Causes Conference (Wed 19 - Thurs 20 June), we asked her a few questions about what happiness means for her.

clare-3You’ve previously said that Leonard Cohen ‘inspired you to choose a new path’. Would you be able to tell us more about this?

Really, it was just the pleasure of watching a master musician decades into his career and being at the absolute top of his game. Leonard’s whole life reminds us of the fact that if you keep at it, you just keep getting better.

He ALSO reminded me of what I know and always forget: as artists, we have the privilege and challenge of telling the truth in ways that help make sense of it, and we can come to this task not just with the ‘nice, shiny’ parts of ourselves, but with the whole of ourselves. In addition, he was just an all-round charmer.

How important is your life and work as a musician in relation to your personal happiness?

One of the reasons I love music and my work so much is because it allows me to attempt to transmute one thing into another thing, and perhaps grow to understand or even contribute to a bigger story, which is what life (or at the very least, my art practice) is about.

But it’s not just music that allows this happiness, it’s living a creative life in general, which means allowing room for playfulness. Whether it’s mothering, making music, writing for theatre, or building Big Hearted Business (where we teach creativity and creative-business thinking to just about anyone who’s interested), I am happiest when I am working on things that I know mean something.

What is your advice for someone who is interested in exploring their creative side for reasons of happiness, as opposed to pursuing a professional career?

People who choose to explore their creativity often don’t have clear boundaries between creativity/life/work/pleasure/pain/family etc. Exploring creativity is just about playing with what it is to be human, which may or may not involved a ‘career’, pencils, plants, guitars, etc. I’d suggest they just come visit www.bigheartedbusiness.com and listen to a few of the Inspiration Bombs; they will find some wisdom there. Also, just get on with it. Give it a crack. Who cares, you know? Have fun with it.

You are well-known for giving back to the community in a big way – through taking on roles as ambassadors, in philanthropy and more. Can you remember when you first became passionate about this?

In reality my contributions are minor and I know a whole lot of people who do a whole lot more than me. But I do remember when this passion first revealed itself though and it was for entirely selfish reasons, of course.

It was when I was 21, and suffering from acute and debilitating panic attacks, and I realised that one of the things that made me feel better was doing something useful for someone. This took my mind off my ‘small self’ (a storm of randomly firing cortisol and adrenalin and fear and terror) and plugged me back in to the larger frame of humanity where peace was actually a possibility.

On this note, panic attacks are really common and I try never to mention them without giving people a couple of resources and reminding them that they’re totally curable (no, really), so… there was a lovely old-fashioned book I read around that time by Dr Claire Weekes about panic attacks that was REALLY sweet (I think you guys ordered it in for me?).

Also, I’d recommend playing around with something creative that you like (anything really), and downloading the free Smiling Mind meditation app.

Your website says that you’ve begun developing a ‘mentoring program for big-hearted creative-entrepreneurial-types’. I’d love to hear how you envision this project is its final stage.

Me too! I’m writing it as we speak! It’s bloody exciting! In terms of keeping you in the loop, come and join the mailing-list (www.bigheartedbusiness.com)

You can read more about the Happiness and Its Causes conference on their website.