How do you become conscientious?

Continued from the last blog I will attempt to answer the above question.

Just to recap in the first blog we spoke about the research that showed conscientious people tend to live longer. To read the first blog please visit the G4 GUITAR website and scroll down to the blog.

This is a tricky question because their is no simple answer and I won’t pretend to be any kind of expert. I will simply answer the question from the perspective of a guitar teacher. My interest as is likely yours is to know how this applies to learning guitar. The majority of conscientious people in my opinion are just big kids. They turned their childhood hobbies into lifelong pursuits or even better careers. In the case of guitar most people who play and learn guitar either started as a child or first became interested as a child. If you are the exception it is likely your interest in music did indeed occur during your childhood.

Given the choice, how would you spend your time?

As a kid I loved listening to music and experimenting with sounds. I began writing songs as a young teen almost from the moment I learnt my first guitar chord. I didn’t do it for any other reason than I enjoyed the creative process. I could spend hours at a time working and experimenting with music. I think the key to being conscientious is to go back to what it is that given the opportunity you would spend the majority of your time doing. It does of course need to be something of a positive nature. I therefore would rule out TV watching, video games and hanging out at cafes for extended periods. Revisit your childhood and look at what you enjoyed. How did you spend your free time? Failing that start experimenting. E.g. Pick up a guitar and sign up for some lessons and see what happens.

Not all stress is bad

Now before we go any further it is important to point out that just because you are conscientious about something it doesn’t mean you will avoid stress. According to the study stress is very much misunderstood and in itself is not a problem. In fact stress usually goes hand in hand with a life of purpose. Those who have purpose are rarely going to walk a smooth path without resistance. If you know where you are heading there will be brick walls and hurdles along the way. Straight lines are somewhat rare in the pursuit of one’s goal. For a better understanding read the book ‘The Drunkard’s Walk’. Now in regards to the guitarist the biggest complaint from students is there is never enough hours in the day and we have a mountain of responsibility and somehow we expect ourselves to fit in 30+ minutes  a day of guitar. This can become stressful especially if the bills start to mount. For those who are clear that life without guitar is no life at all facing such situations is just part of the challenge and not a reason to throw in the towel. They simply eliminate those less important priorities like TV, Internet etc. There is also the stress of practice itself. This takes concentration and self discipline along with constant pep talks with yourself to stay motivated especially during those times when progress feels slow.

The social factor

The longevity study also points out the importance of positive social connections. A support group if you like. When it comes to guitar it is likely that you will come into contact with other musicians or lovers of music. One study conducted some years ago in Europe found that school aged children involved in music did better overall at school and they believe it was because they were more socially active through their participation in the school band. Social connections can go either way. That is they can be healthy or unhealthy. If you are socially connected to a group of people who indulge too much in unhealthy activities it is likely you will too but if you are connected to an active group of musicians it will almost always be a positive experience. Choosing your social activities and therefore your social groups will improve your odds of a long healthy life according to the study. In the case of guitar I would suggest starting with a teacher because they will usually be able to connect you up with other like minded music students in your area.

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