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10 Things You Never Knew You Could Learn From Art

10 Things You Never Knew You Could Learn From Art

Art is a way of expressing beauty, emotions and feelings. It can help us make sense of the world we live in. Jerome Stolnitz argued that it cannot generate truth or knowledge, unlike science and math.

The ancient Greeks had great arguments about this. Plato thought that the literary arts were only useful in stirring our emotions and overindulgence might lead to a certain imbalance. Aristotle thought art was important in providing a certain emotional catharsis so that we could help ourselves to come to terms with tragic emotions. He saw it as being much more beneficial.

Let us look at 10 things that you can learn from art.

1. Art can help us to be creative

We might see a painting in a gallery or simply take a photo of a sunset. These are all expressions of art. They bring out the creativity in us. We may want to draw something or play around with different apps on our phone to turn a simple photo into something original and beautiful. You can play around with the bubbly effect, Monet impressionism, artsy spirals or adding words. Yes, there’s an app for those and many more!

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2. Music can lift you up

If you play an instrument, you have so many opportunities for expressing your mood. Even just playing around on the guitar can be therapeutic. You might choose to listen to rock, rap or a classical symphony. Studies show that listening to upbeat music really does affect your mood positively.

3. Writing as therapy

When I was a teen, I wanted to express some thoughts through poetry so I sent some poems to a publisher. Unfortunately, they were turned down. The rejection letter stated that “there would be little demand for this work on the general market.” My career as a poet ended there but I have continued to write articles, fiction and diaries all my life. Writing enabled me to express emotional trauma and other frustrations. It was a safety valve. Even if you never write a story or poem, writing down your thoughts and feelings is great therapy.

4. A painting can stimulate curiosity

Let us look at the painting, At the Moulin Rouge (1892/5) by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. It can stimulate a curiosity about night life in 19th century Paris, the social mores in vogue at the time, fashion, the life of Toulouse-Lautrec and his difficulties caused by his unusually short stature. The more we find out, the more we want to read and discover what life in Paris was like at the time.

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moulinrouge

    5. Any work of art will help us appreciate beauty

    It may be a sculpture, a painting, a sunset, a poem, a story. Whatever it is, we should try and think about it because there is beauty here. We can lose our emotional baggage and get lost in the contemplation and wonder of that beauty.

    6. 100 things you must do before you die

    You know the series. There are films, places to see, things to eat, books to read, museums to visit. The list is seemingly endless and we have a lot to get through. The idea is a great one because it constantly reminds us about the gaps in our knowledge and culture. It is a great way to create neural connections in our brain and keep our minds alert. It is also a wonderful way of increasing our awareness of the beauty around us.

    7. Exploring and seeking answers

    Far too often in life, there are many problems that can have more than one solution. It is the artistic experience that teaches you to explore your emotions and use your judgement. These points are beautifully summed up in the poster written for schools by Stanford Professor Elliot Eisner. He firmly believed that art education was one of the essential keys to student learning. The poster is entitled 10 Lessons the Arts Teach.

    8. Art can help us to be better people

    Can you resonate with somebody going through a pleasurable or traumatic experience? If you can, you may have learned how to empathize. When you were a child, you started to learn these things through stories, games, music, poetry, and so on. It is these experiences that move and transform us from an early age. We are learning how to reach out to our fellow human beings. Science and math can never teach that!

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    9. Art can make you happier

    The British philosopher Alain de Botton has very definite views on how art is displayed in galleries and museums around the world. His book, Art as Therapy is a joy to read.

    De Botton protests that there is far too much emphasis placed on biographical and technical details on the picture label. There should be much more emphasis on how the painting makes us feel and why it creates happiness, contentment, and peace. Monet’s Fruit Trees is a perfect example. Now, how many museum catalogues talk about these feelings and emotions? Not one, I guess.

    Monet2

      10. Art can help you to express your individuality

      All we have to do is look at the street artists who can express a universal language by being totally unconventional, rebellious and risqué.

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      If your desire for creativity is not up to going out at night on a dangerous street art mission, there are other ways to express your individuality. The best of all is cooking. You can explore different tastes and textures with food. It can become a very personal thing. No surprise that people now ask, “What is your signature dish?”

      It is fascinating to observe how food and art have been intertwined through the ages. In early and medieval times, eating and paintings of food were crude to say the least. Leonardo da Vinci was a vegetarian and he was hoping that cooking would become more inventive by replacing the ubiquitous meat dishes.

      As you slave over that hot stove, just think that cooking is one of the first art forms human beings invented.

      “Cookery is naturally the most ancient of the arts, as of all arts it is the most important.” – George Ellwanger

      Featured photo credit: art/telmo32 via flickr.com

      More by this author

      Robert Locke

      Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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      Last Updated on February 11, 2021

      Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

      Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

      How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

      Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

      The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

      Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

      Perceptual Barrier

      The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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      The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

      The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

      Attitudinal Barrier

      Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

      The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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      The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

      Language Barrier

      This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

      The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

      The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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      Emotional Barrier

      Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

      The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

      The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

      Cultural Barrier

      Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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      The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

      The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

      Gender Barrier

      Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

      The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

      The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

      And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

      Reference

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