Knowledge is power and knowledge of the self is self-empowerment ~ Dr Joe Dispenza
This is going to come as no surprise, but I really believe (and agree with actual educated peeps like Dr. Dan Siegel, Dr. Rick Hanson) that the true key to happiness is being open to learning.
Think of a baby.
Hubby and I were sitting at the farmer’s market yesterday, watching a little baby sitting in the garden in front of us. She was trying to decide between the piece of apple her mother was offering and something she found on the ground. Hubby turned to me and said “babies have so much ahead of them. Sights, smells, sounds…everything is new!”
It was a tense few seconds waiting for her decision, but the baby chose the apple. She’ll go far.
It got me thinking but then what doesn’t? A colleague asked me a few years ago why I was always learning something new. French classes, a new art style or material, weekend yoga workshops. As I do, I made a joke about being a self-improvement junkie, that I was obviously dissatisfied with who and where I was in life.
Out of a habit of self-deprecation, I put my desire to learn down to dissatisfaction when really I just love to learn. I’m a life-long ‘nerd’ and I should be loud and proud about it. I learned to cover my enthusiasm for knowledge to try to fit in a little better. At school, I was always chosen first for team projects but last for team sports. Sadly, Aussie culture is prone to ridicule those who love to learn. For me, there is a direct relationship between learning and happiness and if you scratch the surface of your own life, you’ll probably find yourself agreeing. You might not be interested in art history or museums, but you will find something you are interested in learning more about if you look.
Freud had a lot to say about it civilisation and dissatisfaction. Recently Sam Harris told Russel Brand that dissatisfaction is what drives civilisation onwards*.
If necessity is the mother of invention, where does that leave us creatives, when we’re making things that are arguably not exactly necessities? Although that does depend on who you ask.
I’m not arguing with Freud and Dr. Harris, but I think this applies in every other field but in the Arts, we are making things to show the outer world what’s going on inside us. ‘Art’ that is made ‘to market’, fits somewhat into the ‘dissatisfaction/necessity’ category, but all good art is a product of the soul, not simply something to pass the time, match the curtains, or fill cinema seats.
This is where the learning comes in! To bring our own unique art into the world, in a way that is going to satisfy (and silence) the dreaded inner critic we owe it to ourselves to stay sharp, learn new skills, try new materials, take workshops… I know a lot of us have a love of art materials and journals and there is a fine line between constantly starting something new and getting work done and shipped if that’s what we’re trying to do. Discipline and perseverance are the twin contractors that turn up in their truck and help you get the work done, but they’ll only help if you get stuck in and lead the way.
Tomorrow I’m going to write about why we beat ourselves up, why we always assume there’s something wrong with us when we make a mistake.
*Speaking of mistakes, I need to fact check that! I listen to so many podcasts that ideas can overlap sometimes.
PS here’s a video you might like to watch. Professor Peterson gets a pretty raw deal from some sectors of the artistic community as he’s seen as a conservative and poster-child for the Angry White Man. I don’t think this is warranted. Take a watch and see what you think? Let me know in the comments.
PPS I love Russell Brand <3
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