Resources: Making an Impact


You’ve probably heard the expression “art imitates life.”

The idea originally comes from Aristotle, who believed that artists take inspiration from their real-life experiences when creating their works of art. For example, an author who struggled with his weight when he was a child might write a novel about a young, overweight hero (Oatley, 2011).

Of course, sometimes the opposite happens, and life imitates art. In cases like these, a person is so impacted by a particular perspective in a movie, a song, or another artifact that they decide to take action in real life. These actions can be positive (like standing up for a cause) or negative (like acts of violence or discrimination).

As our world becomes more connected, it’s important to recognize that we’re faced with new perspectives all the time, not just in the humanities but also at home, work, and school. Understanding how outside perspectives can impact us (both positively and negatively) can help us reflect on our emotions, which allows us to better respond and react to our world.

You will continue to develop your relationship-building skills by exploring how different people are impacted and motivated by others. This ties directly into your self-and social-awareness skills because part of effective collaboration is taking the time to reflect on how you react to people with different perspectives.

This is especially true for leaders who want to have a positive influence on others. Being a leader could mean that you’re a supervisor who manages several employees. Or, it could mean that you’re a parent who wants their children to do their best. In either case, it’s critical that you recognize how your words and actions impact other people. As you reflect on your impact:

  • Remember that what motivates one person might discourage another. Understand the different perspectives of the people you hope to influence and target your actions accordingly.
  • Note that it’s important to focus on ways you can positively affect others. If you have to give someone negative feedback, try to frame it constructively.
  • Recognize that impact can come from small gestures. Even a simple smile can turn somebody’s day from bad to good or good to great.
  • Get feedback periodically from people about how you’re impacting them. Then, spend time reflecting on the feedback you receive, and make any necessary changes to ensure the impact you have is positive or meaningful.

By using your self- and social-awareness skills and relationship-building skills together to reflect on how you’re impacting others, you’ll be better equipped to build stronger relationships, broaden your perspective, and leave the best impression on people at home, school, and work.

So far, you have worked hard to understand how your own unique perspective influences how you see the world. And you’ve also considered how bringing together people with different perspectives can lead to the creation of incredible artifacts, ideas, products, teams, and more. That’s why studying humanities is so important.

Throughout our lives and careers, we will always come across people with different points of view. The study of humanities helps us discover what we all have in common and learn to acknowledge our differences.

As you’ve studied different cultures and perspectives throughout this course, you’ve also strengthened three essential skills that will help you continue to succeed in the professional world. You’ve learned:

  • Problem solving: As you examined the art, literature, and music of other cultures, you saw how diverse perspectives and critical thinking strategies help to frame problems, explain other people’s viewpoints, and create ethical solutions.
  • Relationship building: Through learning about cultures across different time periods, you discovered that even the earliest humans understood the importance of working with others. You also learned new approaches to collaboration and put them into practice by working closely with your classmates.
  • Self-awareness and social awareness: Recognizing your thoughts, emotions, and intentions is a uniquely human trait, which is why it is critical to the study of humanities. Because you learned to be more open to new perspectives, you’ll be better able to understand the people you’ll meet in your personal and professional life.

In the future, these skills will help you analyze and reduce your own cultural bias, find common ground with others, and appreciate the importance of artistic expression in any form. This could mean working with people from other countries at your job, or it might simply help you prevent a political conversation at a family gathering from turning into a fight.

Learning about what makes us human and broadening our perspective are all parts of a lifelong journey. The steps you have taken now— and will continue to take in the future—will help you work with anyone you meet, no matter where they’re from or how different your perspectives may be.


Oatley, K. (2011). Does art imitate life? Psychology Today… art-imitate-life