The Art of Self Improvement
Copyright © Craig Warren
There’s no doubt about it: Self Improvement is big
business. No matter where we look we seem to see
men attired in business suits and fancy haircuts.
Sporting dinky little ear-piece microphones, they
speak to us as though we were attending the annual
general meeting of their multi-national self-
development business which, I suppose, isn’t that
far from the truth. They speak to us in sound-bites;
I’m going show you how, you just need to follow my
plan: no thought required; just follow the plan.
Success and winning, they preach to the audience,
are a sure thing.
But is self-development a sure thing? If, like me,
you believe self-development is a life journey that
is never completed, you know that the only sure
thing is that the search for self-development is
far from being a sure thing. The journey will
entail more failures than successes, more loss than
gain and more self-doubt than we think we can endure.
The only way to improve ones self is to challenge
the habits and assumptions we have gathered along
the way. To go out on a limb with no guarantee of
finding what we want takes courage. No success plan
would contemplate such a course of action!
So, if we can’t get succor from the self-improvement
gurus, who can we turn to?
The answer, I believe, is to look to the people who
have always explored every single aspect of the
human condition. They did not always find the answer,
but they all had courage. They are of course, the
How can a painting help us toward our goal of
self-improvement you might ask? Well, some
paintings help to bring serenity and a feeling
of inner peace. I feel this whenever I look at
an Impressionist painting, especially paintings
by Berthe Morisot. She was never recognized as
a great artist during her lifetime; she was
relegated to the category of “feminine” artists
because of her usual subject matter women,
children and domestic scenes. Her paintings are
intensely intimate. She is an example of someone
who never gave up on pursuing what she thought
was worth while despite being largely ignored.
Jackson Pollock instills different but equally
powerful feelings. I used to believe all modern
artists just throw a bit of paint on a canvas and
call it art. My preconceptions were swept away when
I was lucky enough to attend an exhibition devoted
to his work. His paintings were beautiful and
challenged the way I look at a painting. The search
for your inner self is all about challenging your
currently held notions.
Music is probably the easiest of the arts for us to
accept as an aid toward our search for self-development.
How often does a certain piece of music make us feel
happy, relaxed, romantic, hopeful, fulfilled? You name
it, music hits all the buttons. My favorite music is
anything by Beethoven. His music makes me feel all of
the aforementioned. He was a man who accepted nothing
less than perfection. He sort redemption through his
music. Ultimately, he didn’t find it and he spent much
of his life feeling alone. But his courage of conviction
made his life, and countless others, a better thing. His
last words were “Applaud, my friends, the comedy is over.
Perhaps our greatest inspiration comes from writers. They
have helped me, and millions of others, to find the inner
self. Life would be a much poorer experience without our
great writers. I wont name all the writers that have
inspired me; there are too many. But if there was one thing
I would urge you to do, it is to read. If you’re not sure who
to read then go to a library and ask! Tell the librarian what
it is that you want to experience, feel or learn when you read
a book. They’ll help you, don’t let shyness defeat you. If you
can’t get to a library then join a reading club on the internet.
The one thing I have found is that people, who love to read,
love to help others to read books.
So, forget about buying into those testosterone,
succeed-at-all-costs seminars, ebooks and DVDs. Go and
look at a painting or lie on the sofa and listen to music,
maybe dance wildly to it, cry with it, make love in time
to it or curl up and read a book that will take you where you
never thought possible.
You may not get to where you wished, but Art will accompany
you every single step of the way.
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