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What can art teach us about life?

What can art teach us about life?

Susie Sierra

Art can offer us some invaluable lessons about expression, introspection, awareness and empathy.

When we stop to gaze at a work of art, we step out of our world into someone else's. And in that moment, our busy lives are suspended. Questions arise about the meaning of the work and what the artist is trying to convey. In an instant, we are transported to a new place, our world magically expanding.

Stepping into the artist's shoes allows us to see life through fresh eyes. Let’s take this painting above as an example. Looking at the painting as a whole, you can see it’s incomplete with some obvious rough patches that don’t look good. 

However, if I break it into sections, I start to see it differently. I can see that some parts are close to being finished and that makes me feel good. Other parts clearly need more work.

By breaking the painting into parts, I can view it dispassionately and start to work on each section without the inner critic surfacing. As each section improves, the whole painting starts to come together. I step back, look again, and now I can see, as a whole, how it has improved. This gives me the motivation to keep going.

Our lives are also made of parts just like this painting, each piece linking with the next to create an intricate web of design that is brilliantly individual.

And just like this painting, when we look at ourselves as a whole, we may not feel so pleased with what we see - maybe even a bit disappointed. Perhaps we haven’t yet achieved the goals we set for ourselves or perhaps our life hasn't turned out how we expected it to ... not so far at least. 

We can use the same strategy I’ve applied to this painting, for our own lives. There will be parts of your life that are polished and shiny - for example, your professional life where you may have excelled. And that’s because you put in the time, passion and hard work to develop that part of yourself. No wonder it looks so good!

Other parts may have been neglected. They could be relationships, with parents, siblings or friends. Or even a project that you started but haven’t yet finished, allowing it to sit idle.

If we break our lives into sections we can start to nurture and improve each part, without the negative feelings that come with self-criticism. We remind ourselves that this is just a part of our life - not the whole. We will always do more for ourselves when we feel good about ourselves.

As individuals we are constantly evolving, shaping, sculpting our lives just like an artist. We are extraordinary works in progress and let’s face it, we will never be completely finished. Even when we shuffle off this mortal coil, we will still be these beautiful, unique, unfinished works of art.

Remember, you are more beautiful and powerful than you know.

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