This colorful comic explores how Vincent van Gogh tackled one of his biggest fears.

Today, Vincent van Gogh is considered a world-renowned painter and artistic genius. This was not always the case.

Van Gogh lived in poverty and anonymity for most of his life.

He was born on March 30, 1853, one year to the day after his parents' first child (also named Vincent) arrived stillborn. He grew up poor and left school to help support his family. He worked in galleries and with art dealers but had a habit of falling in love with women who didn't love him back. After his first heartbreak, he became a teacher and religious evangelist. But when his contract at the church wasn't renewed, van Gogh turned to painting.


Though clearly talented, van Gogh didn't achieve fame or wealth for his work while he as alive. He suffered from mental illness and eventually checked himself into a hospital where he completed some of his most seminal works, including "Starry Night" and "Irises."

"Starry Night" and "Irises."

But while his genius and talent were second to none, there was one way Van Gogh was just like the rest of us.

He wrote more than 900 letters to his younger brother Theo, a lifelong companion and confidant. Even as his work matured and his talent took shape, Vincent van Gogh's letters revealed he still felt overwhelmed, inadequate, and anxious, especially when beginning a new piece. That fear is something we're all familiar with.

But even in his darkest hours, van Gogh fought that fear in order to create.

"You don’t know how paralyzing it is, that stare from a blank canvas that says to the painter you can't do anything," Vincent wrote to his brother.

"Life itself likewise always turns towards one an infinitely meaningless, discouraging, dispiriting blank side on which there is nothing, any more than on a blank canvas. But however meaningless and vain, however dead life appears, the man of faith, of energy, of warmth, and who knows something, doesn’t let himself be fobbed off like that. He steps in and does something, and hangs on to that."

Cartoonist Gavin Aung Than of Zen Pencils adapted van Gogh's letter to Theo into a comic story that feels as relevant today as it did in the 1880s.

Comic by Gavin Aung Than, used with permission.

Like van Gogh, most of us will struggle with feelings of inadequacy and fear at some point.

That's when we need to step up for ourselves the most.

Whether you're stressed about work, creative pursuits, or trying something new, it may help to find an accountability partner. That's someone you know and trust who you can share your goals and fears with, and vice versa. Exchanging hundreds of letters back and forth was van Gogh's style, but a quick coffee or text of support and encouragement may be just the boost you both need to get started.

Self-care and positive affirmations can also be useful when you need a little push. A study from Carnegie Mellon University confirms self-affirmations can improve problem-solving abilities and protect against stress. So in moments of doubt, extend yourself a little grace and remind yourself just how awesome you are. You don't have to be perfect. But if it's something you want, give it your best shot.

​Epilogue: So just how and when did van Gogh find success?

In his lifetime, van Gogh completed thousands of sketches, drawings, and watercolor and oil paintings. After his death at the age of 37 and Theo's death six months later, van Gogh's sister-in-law Johanna put his artwork on display in Paris. There, his popularity grew, and van Gogh was eventually celebrated as a pioneering painter and eminent Dutch artist.

Happy ending? Not quite. But an ending that wouldn't be possible if van Gogh hadn't "stepped in and done something." And we can hang on to that.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture