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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.

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      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.

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              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.

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                    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.

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                            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

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                                Last Updated on August 6, 2020

                                6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

                                6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

                                We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

                                “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

                                Are we speaking the same language?

                                My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

                                When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

                                Am I being lazy?

                                When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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                                Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

                                Early in the relationship:

                                “Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

                                When the relationship is established:

                                “Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

                                It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

                                Have I actually got anything to say?

                                When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

                                A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

                                When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

                                Am I painting an accurate picture?

                                One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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                                How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

                                Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

                                What words am I using?

                                It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

                                Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

                                Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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                                Is the map really the territory?

                                Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

                                A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

                                I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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