Advertising
Advertising

15 Life Lessons From Banksy Street Art That Will Leave You Lost For Words

15 Life Lessons From Banksy Street Art That Will Leave You Lost For Words

Using striking stencil art and profound imagery, Banksy has captured the interest of art lovers, activists, and graffiti artists around the globe. His mysterious identity (and refusal to use social media accounts) has only sparked more intrigue, with media outlets and fans prying to earn a peek into his life. But why use graffiti as a means to communicate?

By displaying art in crowded cities across the world, Banksy puts social and political issues in our face. These pieces force us to stop and think—something that we often avoid doing in our day-to-day lives.

15. Set moral boundaries.

Banksy Hitchiker to Anywhere

    This ominous image of a hitchhiking Charles Manson stands outside of London’s Archway Tube Station. Could it be a reference to the pervasive influence of evil in society? An ominous warning that evil can be lurking on any corner? Perhaps we should be more restrictive of what kinds of influences we allow in our everyday lives.

    14. Remember where you came from.

    Banksy Apeman

      Those who pass this piece in Los Angeles may wonder if they’re being warned, mocked, or simply entertained by a peculiar caveman with his fast food combo meal. Perhaps this is simply a subtle reminder of our human nature—and of those things that we’ve adopted that aren’t so natural.
      As crazy as it is to see a caveman carrying a fast food tray, is it really that much crazier for us to consume grease-soaked, nutritionless meals?

      13. Let your actions match your words.

      Advertising

      banksy street art meaning

        Have you ever been frustrated by a parent who said, “Do as I say, not as I do?” Maybe Banksy was too, before allegedly creating this piece in the London Borough of Hounslow. This piece brings to light the contradiction between what human behaviors are expected, and how people actually behave. We’re often told to be good by some of the very people that are doing just the opposite. Actions speak louder than words, so make sure your actions don’t contradict your words.

        12. Everyone’s got skeletons.

        Park Street Banksy

          This rather humorous scene is one of Banksy’s most famous, painted in Bristol, England. Along with the idea that we’ve all got some things to hide, this piece seems to warn us that things aren’t always what they seem. Don’t blindly believe everything you’re told, as someone’s dishonesty may be creating an illusion.

          11. There is always hope.

          there_is_always_hope_by_jackhollow

            This message is clearly etched in the wall beside this London piece. While the image may symbolize loss, the text clearly tells us that no amount of loss can eliminate hope. This is a gentle reminder to remain positive instead of wallowing in our losses.

            10. Strive for peace.

            Banksy Airstrike

              This San Francisco piece demands that we examine ourselves—particularly, how we solve problems. Instead of resorting to violence and immature tantrums, we should aim to be reasonable and fair. This is one of many Banksy pieces that pushes us to question our government and the decisions made by our leaders.

              Advertising

              9. Love is not lust.

              Banksy New York

                This dismal scene, painted outside of a New York City strip club seems to highlight the ugly truth about society’s sex obsession: it never leads to fulfillment—at least not for this poor guy. Banksy posted the phrase, “waiting in vain” along with a picture of the stencil on his website, suggesting he’s in the wrong place if he wants to find genuine love.

                8. All love is valid.

                Love Banksy

                  This piece, outside of a Brighton pub, blatantly displays two uniformed male officers kissing. Banksy seems to be asking us, “Who’s to say what is appropriate?” Whether “conventional” or not, love is love. This piece suggests that love should be accepted publicly and displayed freely, no matter what kind it is.

                  7. Be humble.

                  monkey

                    Let’s face it: most humans need a lesson in humility. We’ve caused tragedies for other species, the environment, and other humans without even recognizing any wrong-doing. Banksy reportedly painted several of these pieces, reminiscent of the popular anecdote: don’t step on the little people to get to the top, as you may need them on your way back down. More importantly, don’t step on people because it’s wrong. Practice humility, and you will naturally earn respect without having to mistreat anyone.

                    6. Utilize kindness.

                    Advertising

                    Banksy Flower Thrower

                      This London piece of a protester throwing a bouquet of flowers may be Banksy’s most famous piece thus far. The remarkable idea behind this piece is the use of unexpected weapons. The protester fights not with a grenade or other harmful device, but with an innocent bouquet of flowers. This suggests we may be able to get more done by negotiating kindly, not malevolently.

                      5. Express yourself.

                      Bansky LA

                        This New York piece illustrates self-expression with a graffiti artist puking flowers. The caption tied to this piece is “better out than in,” indicating that if you have something to express, it’s best to let it out rather than hold it in. We certainly wouldn’t hold it in if we felt the need to puke. So why hold in our emotional needs, like the need to express and create? Whether physical or emotional, some things need to be let out, lest we be left with a sour stomach.

                         4. Live in the moment.

                        Bansky Texting

                          One of Banksy’s most recent pieces, entitled Mobile Lovers, was also done in Bristol. This not-so-subtle reference to modern technology warns us to be conscious of what we’re spending our time and attention on. Nothing that exists on a screen in more important than what is happening right in front of us. By being constantly preoccupied, we could miss out on meaningful opportunities and connection with others.

                          3. Don’t be so full of yourself.

                          Banksy Echoes in Eternity

                            Another New York piece of Banksy’s casually knocks us down to reality. As humans, we like to believe that our lives have significance and that we’re unique from everyone else. This piece can be viewed as something that knocks us down a peg, but in a good way. Everyone lives the same struggle. Life is finite, and that’s okay. Don’t do things in order to be remembered; do things in order to be a good person.

                            Advertising

                            2. Don’t let others deter you.

                            Banksy Dreams Cancelled

                              This Boston piece, one of Banksy’s most famous, takes yet another swing in the name of disappointed idealism. Many of us feel forced to give up our dreams, never pursuing them due to financial burdens or other hardships. This may serve as a wake up call for those of us who’ve been asleep. Ultimately, we should follow our dreams, regardless of outside discouragement.

                              1. Listen to your heart.

                              Bansky Doctor

                                Perhaps the most obvious and adorably heartwarming translation of this San Francisco piece is “listen to your heart.” While harsh realities and unforgiving satire are typically Banksy’s style, a bit of optimism seeps through here. This listening doctor serves as an inspiring reminder. Are we living up to the request?

                                Featured photo credit: Gary Soup via images.search.yahoo.com

                                More by this author

                                tackling self esteem One Solid Practice for Tackling Low Self-Esteem banksy street art 15 Life Lessons From Banksy Street Art That Will Leave You Lost For Words self-improvement books 25 Self-Improvement Books That Will Make You A Better Person stick new habit 4 Reasons You Just Can’t Stick With A New Habit 8 Fall-Themed Wedding Favors to Delight Your Guests

                                Trending in Communication

                                1 5 Real Relationship Goals You Should Actually Strive Toward 2 When You Learn A Second Language, These 7 Amazing Things Will Happen To You 3 15 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Be Truly Happy 4 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 5 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake

                                Read Next

                                Advertising
                                Advertising
                                Advertising

                                Last Updated on January 15, 2021

                                7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                                7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                                The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

                                Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

                                Posture

                                First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

                                • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
                                • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
                                • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
                                • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

                                All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

                                Facial Expressions

                                Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

                                • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
                                • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
                                • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

                                If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

                                Advertising

                                1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

                                A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

                                The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

                                This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

                                2. Relax Your Face

                                New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

                                The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

                                To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

                                Advertising

                                3. Improve Your Eye Contact

                                Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

                                The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

                                To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

                                3. Smile More

                                There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

                                Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

                                4. Hand Gestures

                                Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

                                Advertising

                                It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

                                5. Enhance Your Handshake

                                In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

                                “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

                                It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

                                6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

                                As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

                                Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

                                Advertising

                                Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

                                Final Takeaways

                                Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

                                If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

                                More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

                                Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

                                Reference

                                Read Next