Life Lessons with Vincent Van Gogh!

‘Great things are done by a series of small things brought together’ – Vincent Van Gogh

Last week I went to the Van Gogh Immersive Exhibition in London’s East End with my youngest son’s girlfriend. He might not be an obvious person to give us suggestions to live a long, healthy and happy life given that he cut off his own ear in a fit of rage and shot himself dead aged 37. He was also known to be a heavy drinker and to not eat properly. But, as we walked around and read some of his quotes, I realised that several of them linked into the theme of this blog. The quote above is exactly the point of tiny tweaks. For us to become happier and healthier versions of ourselves, we need to do a series of small things, our tiny tweaks, to get there. So I thought I would write a post based around his quotes and bring back some of the tiny tweaks we’ve already tried as well as some new ones. I hope you enjoy it!

‘One must spoil as many canvases as one succeeds with’

Making mistakes is how we learn but we often hold back on attempting something if we think we aren’t going to succeed. We talked a while back about the fear of failure and how we should embrace every opportunity and treat ourselves as if we were our own best friend. If you’d like to remind yourself or if you haven’t read it yet, the link is here: So our tiny tweak here is to give it a go, whatever it is, don’t fear failure, embrace it!

Vincent Van Gogh – one of many self-portraits

‘I try more and more to be myself, caring relatively little whether people approve or disapprove’

If we live our lives always worried about what other people think, we aren’t being our true selves. Only last week, I talked about how I sometimes feel embarrassed that I watch certain TV programmes. It’s important to think about others of course and be sensitive to their needs, but not when it is stopping you from doing something that doesn’t cause any harm to anyone else. So if you want to join a choir or take up tai chi or start jogging or knitting, try not to worry what anyone else thinks. So what if someone says it isn’t age or even gender appropriate? If you want to try something, then give it a go.

‘Normality is a paved road: it’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it’

I love this one! Sometimes in life we crave normality because the world around us seems to be going mad or our own lives are spiralling out of control. But the truth is, stepping out of our comfort zone and doing something different often brings the greatest rewards. I think Vincent Van Gogh had a point here for sure. Besides, what is normal? Your normal is almost definitely different to my normal and it’s good to learn from others and try new things. Next time we are in a different country, let’s try some of the local cuisine, let’s start chatting to our neighbours or singing in the shower. We all need to step away from our own normality and find those flowers!

Irises by Vincent Van Gogh (1889)

‘I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream’

The mysteries of the universe may never be fully understood but we do know that sleep is vital to our good health and that the part where we dream, the REM stage, is important for building memory, processing emotion, and general mental health. Of course, we can’t make ourselves remember our dreams but the better the quality of our sleep, the more likely it is that we will feel healthier and happier. There were a few tips and tweaks when we talked about sleep before which you can check out here: and remember to ‘prioritise sleep’!

Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night (1889)

‘If you hear a voice within you saying, you are not a painter, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced’

We talked about the importance of taking time for you and how it isn’t selfish in this post: No matter how busy we are, taking time every day to do something we love or that calms us is so important. It could be yoga, going for a walk, reading or taking a bath, anything that is just for us. Vincent perhaps overdid it, creating an average of one artwork every 36 hours in his last 10 years! But the idea that we can all paint or whatever it is you want to do that’s just for you is spot on!

‘If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere’

Back in November 2021, we talked about finding moments of joy in the everyday Those little moments that make you smile: watching birds in the garden, a child’s squeals of delight as they discover the feeling of the grass beneath their bare feet for the first time, the blossom on the trees, a brightly coloured butterfly or a row of beautiful sunflowers. Our tiny tweak was, and is, to look out for those moments and let joy in!

Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh (1887)

I hope you enjoyed this Vincent Van Gogh inspired collection of tiny tweaks. We have plenty to choose from this week or maybe we could try to do them all!

Until next time xx

If you enjoyed this post, please like it and let me know in the comments. I love to hear your thoughts!


  1. ‘If you hear a voice within you saying, you are not a painter, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced’ – I love this one, Van Gogh had some very wise philosophical thoughts, It’s too bad that he wasn’t able to live a long, healthy life. Thanks for sharing the inspiration 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful collection of quotes and commentary on them Cathy. I’ve not heard much if any of Van Gogh’s writing. ‘Normality is a paved road: it’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it’ – This is my favourite. Thank you for sharing 🙏

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