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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

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      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 September 18, 2020

      13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

      13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

      For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

      “We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

      “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

      Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

      You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

      Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

      1. Take a step back and evaluate

      When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

      1. What is the problem?
      2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
      3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
      4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
      5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

      Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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      2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

      If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

      At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

      Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

      3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

      Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

      4. Process your thoughts/emotions

      Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

      1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
      2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
      3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
      4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

      5. Acknowledge your thoughts

      Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

      By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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      Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

      6. Give yourself a break

      If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

      7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

      A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

      Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

      After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

      8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

      As Helen Keller once said,

      “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

      Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

      9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

      In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

      1. What’s the situation?
      2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
      3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
      4. Take action on your next steps!

      After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

      10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

      A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

      Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

      For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

      11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

      No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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      12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

      No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

      13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

      There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

      After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

      Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

      Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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