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I Watched an Artist Create Stained Glass and Learned an Important Lesson About Life

I Watched an Artist Create Stained Glass and Learned an Important Lesson About Life

Until recently, I had never been inside a stained glass studio. Next thing you know, without any planning at all, I found myself inside two different studios over the span of three days. Strange how life works.

I assumed that I would see some nicely colored windows or something similar, but that would be it. Little did I know, I was about to learn an important life lesson.

During a conversation with one of the artists, I was told about a strategy used to cut glass and immediately realized that this same idea applies to habits, self-improvement…and almost everything else.

Here’s what the artist told me.

Lessons Learned from Stained Glass

Stained glass artists create different designs by making cuts on the glass to “score” it and then breaking off the pattern or shape that they want to use in the finished product. (In other words, they make a notch in the glass and then break the pieces apart like you would with a Kit Kat bar.)

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The most difficult cut in stained glass is called an inside cut. Basically, it’s a curved line where you throw away the part inside of the curve. The problem with inside cuts is that the edges of the curve tend to chip when the pieces of scored glass are broken apart. The image below shows what I mean.

    As the artist talked about inside cuts, he said, “The glass will shatter if you try to cut too much off at once. The best way to do an inside cut is to slice off smaller curves piece-by-piece. In fact, it’s not just the best way to do it, it’s the only way to do it.”

    So, you start by slicing a shallow curve and breaking a small piece off. Then you cut a slightly deeper curve and break that off. And so on and so forth, until you have your full inside cut. The image below shows the strategy.

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    stained-glass-inside-cut-success

      By slowly cutting deeper and deeper curves, the artist prevents the glass from chipping and breaking as it changes shape.

      Inside Cuts in Everyday Life

      Changing your behavior, building new habits, and learning new skills is a lot like making an inside cut on a piece of glass.

      If you want, you can try to make a big change and cut the entire piece at once. We convince ourselves that we can do this all the time. We’ll commit to transforming our diet overnight, get inspired to launch a business in a weekend, or we finally get motivated to work out…and push ourselves to the brink of exhaustion.

      If our life is like the piece of glass, we try to change the entire shape of it all at once.

      Why? Because it’s so easy to focus on achievements instead of progress. We tend to get obsessed with our goals rather than focusing on our system.

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      I don’t know about you, but I’ve made this mistake tons of times myself. I’ll get excited and motivated and jump into a project or chase a goal with everything I have, but pretty soon the pieces begin to break and I have to start over.

      Approach Change Like a Stained Glass Artist

      The alternative is to approach your goals and dreams like a stained glass artist.

      You can choose to make slow, methodical gains. Start with a small, unimpressive cut — something you can easily handle — and do it well. Then, repeat with a slightly bigger step. And again. And again.

      This process is like starting with something that is so easy that you can’t say no. And then focusing on improving by one percent each time. And then committing to doing more repetitions.

      Of course, change isn’t easy — no matter how you do it. Slow gains are boring. Certainly not sexy. Nobody writes news stories about them. But moving forward in a slow and methodical manner doesn’t mean you lack ambition, drive, or vision. The stained glass artist has a very clear vision. He knows exactly what he is working toward.

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      You and I can do the same. If we keep making small improvements, then pretty soon we will end up with a beautiful masterpiece on our hands instead of a bunch of fragments.

      James Clear writes at JamesClear.com, where he shares science-based ideas for living a better life and building habits that stick. To get strategies for boosting your mental and physical performance by 10x, join his free newsletter.

      This article was originally published on JamesClear.com.

      Featured photo credit: Steve Snodgrass via flickr.com

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      Last Updated on September 17, 2018

      7 Signs of an Unhappy Relationship That Makes You Feel Stuck

      7 Signs of an Unhappy Relationship That Makes You Feel Stuck

      Relationships are complicated and when you’re unhappy, it can be difficult to tell what’s causing it and what needs to change.

      Sometimes it’s as easy as opening up to your partner about your problems, while other times it may be necessary to switch partners or roll solo to get your mind straight.

      When you’re in the thick of things, it can be difficult to tell if you’re unhappy in your relationship or just unhappy in general (in which case, a relationship may be just the cure you need).

      Here’re signs of an unhappy relationship that is possibly making you feel stuck:

      1. You’re depressed about your home life.

      No matter what you do in life, you’re going to have good and bad days. Your relationship is no different.

      However, no matter what you’re going through at home, you have to feel comfortable in your own home.

      If you constantly dread going home because your significant other is there, there’s a problem. Maybe it’s something you already know about, everyone has an argument or just needs some alone time.

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      When that yearning to be alone becomes an insatiable obsession over the course of months and years, it’s time to realize you’re not the exception to the rule.

      You’re unhappy in your relationship, and you need to take a look in the mirror and do whatever it takes to make yourself smile.

      2. You aren’t comfortable being yourself.

      Remember all those things you discovered about yourself when you first got together? The way your partner made you feel when you met that made you fall in love with him or her in the first place.

      If they don’t make you feel that way anymore, it’s not the end of the world. If your partner makes you uncomfortable about being you, then her or she is only dragging you down. It’s up to you to decide how to handle that.

      You need to be comfortable with who you are. This means being comfortable in your skin and with the way you walk, talk, look, breath, move, and all the other things that make you uniquely you.

      If the person who supposedly loves you doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, know that you can do better. They’re not even one in a billion.

      3. You can’t stop snooping.

      Mutual trust is necessary in any relationship. The only way to get that trust is with respect.

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      I can find you anywhere online, no matter how private and secure you think you are. The odds of you having a password I can’t crack are slim. If we’ve met in person, I could install a remote key logger on your device without even touching it.

      Finding your information online hardly takes a clandestine organization. Any idiot with a Wi-Fi-enabled device can cyberstalk you. I’m just the only idiot in the village admitting it.

      So now that we know everyone snoops, it’s time to address your personal habits. Governments snoop because they don’t trust us. If you’re snooping on your partner, it’s because you don’t trust them.

      It’s ok to have doubts, and it’s perfectly normal to look into anything that looks weird, but keep in mind that data collection is only half of an investigation.

      If you find yourself constantly snooping and questioning everything, clearly there’s a trust issue and the relationship likely needs to end.

      4. You’re afraid of commitment.

      If you’ve been dating longer than a year and you aren’t engaged, it’s never going to happen.

      Commitment is important. People will come up with a million ways to describe why they can’t be committed.

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      No matter who you are if you like it, you need to put a ring on it. Find an engagement ring, stick a gemstone in it and marry the person. If you’re not legally able to get married or you don’t believe in it for one reason or another, have a child (or adopt one, however you’re able to) or treat your partner’s family like your own. It’s a huge financial and mental commitment.

      If you’re not ready for one or the other after some time, don’t waste anymore of your precious life on the relationship.

      Your relationship should be something that propels you forward. If it’s not going anywhere, make it an open relationship and call it what it is—dating multiple people.

      5. You imagine a happier life without your partner.

      If all you’re doing is imagining a happier life without your partner, it’s a sign that you’re in the wrong relationship. You’re unhappy and you need to get out.

      Your partner should be included in your dreams. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a future with someone.

      Try to remember what you dreamed of before you got your heart broken by the realities of life, love and the pursuit of human success.

      Remember when you would crush on that cute kid in class? You would secretly imagine marrying him or her and going on an adventure—that’s the way life should be.

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      If you’re not at least imagining adventures together, then why are you in that relationship?

      6. You resent, rather than love your partner.

      When a relationship starts to crumble, you begin to resent your partner for all the things you once loved about him or her.

      When you’ve reached this point, your partner has reached at least No. 2 on this list. From your partner’s perspective, your unhappiness with them is picked up as bashing them for being who they are.

      If you’re both unhappy in the relationship, it’s better if it ends as quickly and painlessly as possible.

      7. You chase past feelings.

      It’s okay to reminisce about the past, but if all you do is wish things were like they used to be, it’s a sign you’re not on the right path.

      You’re unhappy and, at the very least, you need to have an open dialogue about it. This isn’t necessarily a sign that the relationship should end, but it definitely needs a spark.

      When you talk to your partner candidly about what it is you’re looking for, you never know how they’ll react. The risk alone is worth it, good or bad.

      Final thoughts

      If you’re feeling stuck in your current relationship, it’s time to reflect about it with your partner. Don’t ignore these signs of an unhappy relationship as they will slowly go worse and harm both you and your partner in long-term.

      Featured photo credit: josh peterson via unsplash.com

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