We created art and entertainment to distract us and to [...] life.
What's the word or phrase to use in a situation like this?
The only thing I can think of is 'to soften up.' But I'm not sure.
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I think sweeten may suggest the idea of making life more acceptable and enjoyable with pleasant things like art and entertainment:
- To make more pleasant
to make (pain, sorrow, etc) easier to bear; lessen; relieve
to make or become better or more satisfactory; improve; meliorate.
Usage: Ameliorate is often wrongly used where alleviate is meant. Ameliorate is properly used to mean "improve", not "make easier to bear", so one should talk about alleviating pain or hardship, not ameliorating it.
So OP must decide whether he thinks life is "okay, but could be better" (use ameliorate), or "almost unendurably harsh" (use alleviate).
We created art and entertainment to distract us and to enliven life.
Merriam-Webster defines enliven as:
to make (something) more interesting, lively, or enjoyable