Saturday, January 6, 2018

New Year Resolutions? Why not start with just one: Self-Control.

 THE AGE OF MAN (2017) Oil and Goldleaf on triptych panel 16 x 11 inches 
                                                 by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

It is a new year and like all years, we often think and plan our resolutions. Year after year we may start to notice most of these fail. Bad habits are hard to break and as soon as we start adding more to a list of things to change, we inevitably make it harder to focus on our goal. After trying out different work schedules and thinking about all the problems in the world I started to see a connection between the one thing that I could improve within myself and if we all set our minds and will to it, change the world for the better. As an artist I'm often thinking about relations and correspondences between the macro and micro and finding ways to address a whole spectrum of issues with one simple step. The step I'm talking about is Self-Control.

HEBE (2014) Oil and gold leaf on panel 18 x 24 inches 

The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, conducted in New Zealand, followed the lives of 1037 children since the day they were born to their thirties. The study revealed that one of the most important factors for successful and healthy life was the ability to manage and control behaviors and emotions in order to reach a long term goal. According to the study, Self-Control played an even greater role than intelligence or social status in determining success in the lives of  many of these children. The study is important because it not only it can be a predictor of mental emotional and physical health but it also sheds light on how to change bad habits and lead healthier lives. If you wish to read more about this study, check out the marshmallow test. The results and insights are mind blowing. There is a very good documentary series that covers it : Predict My Future: The Science of Us.

TEMPUS FUGIT (2014) Oil and metal leaf on panel 36 x 31 inches 
                                                  by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

Imagine a world where corporate greed, consumerism, crime, addictions and all other vices in society can be managed and controlled. Just think of a president that cannot control his impulse to tweet a taunt that could have devastating nuclear consequences for the world and you'll soon realize how important self-control really is. In the middle ages people were familiar with the Seven Deadly Sins: Gluttony, Rage, Sloth, Avarice, Envy, Lust and Pride.  With Temperance (self-control) all of these excesses could be dissipated. In 2008-09 I worked on a series of paintings exploring these themes. Almost ten years later I now see Temperance as the most important virtue to attain. Think of the other three virtues: Strength, Prudence and Justice. In order to be strong, prudent and just, one must first temper (moderate) one's owns weaknesses, impulsiveness and prejudices. 

OUR DAILY BREAD (2016) Oil on canvas 36 x 60 inches 
                                             by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

To have self-control is to be self-disciplined. To be self-disciplined is to know oneself and tame the beast within. This is key to anything from losing weight, to changing bad habits and becoming a master at your craft. So instead of having a long list of resolutions for this year, consider focusing on one thing, just one thing: Self-Control. Once achieved and with a mindful set of balanced activities in daily life, everything else will fall into place. As Buddha would once say: " The true master lives in truth, in goodness and restraint, Non-violence, moderation and purity". 

                                 CREDO (2017) Oil on canvas 18 x 24 inches 
Private Collection