A Sense of Beauty?
Where's the Anti-anxiety Tool for this week? Embedded in the text, a few paragraphs down.
I started wondering the other day: Do we have a sense of beauty...the way we have a sense of smell or taste?
Beauty, like sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell, is a way of experiencing the world. We have different ideas about what is beautiful, just as we have different ideas of what tastes or smells good. For instance, some of us think cilantro tastes wonderful while others (like me) think it tastes like soap! As for smell? I had a friend in college (R.I.P., Lois) who could not smell skunk--how odd. And what a lucky woman!
We take beauty in through our senses: a beautiful sight, a beautiful piece of music. But, hmmm...do we ever talk about a "beautiful smell" or a "beautiful taste"? Does something we touch ever feel "beautiful"? This sense of beauty is rather mysterious.
But so important. In an in-depth study in England, people reported an increased sense of well-being and happiness when experiencing something they felt was beautiful. Study participants also noted that beauty had a calming and uplifting effect on them. And conversely, experiencing an environment that felt ugly lead to increased depression.
I've dedicated the bulk of this week's blog to some photos that are, to me, very beautiful. But first I want to share the...
Anti-anxiety Tool of the Week: Allow Beauty. In his book, Hardwiring Happiness, neuropsychologist Rick Hanson notes that a restful focus on something positive can help our brains ease into more calm and better function, even if we hold that focus for as little as 20 - 30 seconds. This includes focusing on something we consider beautiful--a painting, nature, a happy memory. If negative thoughts intrude (as they likely will) simply acknowledge them, without judging yourself, and return to your focus on beauty.
This is a new tool, so there's no previous toolbox link. Here's a link to the Index of all toolkits. And The Mini-Toolkit: For Those with Little or No Time.
A few thoughts on the photos below. Most people find it difficult to describe why something is beautiful to them, myself included. But in reviewing these photos I see some patterns: light and darkness are very important, rich color is very important. And all the photos have at least some curved lines, if not many. In some, movement is important, in others, stillness. Many of them have elements both of the expected and of surprise, or mystery. And there are no photos of the built, "civilized" world.
Your choices and patterns would probably be different. But I hope one or more of these photos will serve as a healing, uplifting gift of beauty for you. From me.
The pattern is not set.
It is fluid and constantly changing.
But it will be worked out in beauty in the end.
Until next time,
Photo credits (all from unSplash):
Mountains in moonlight, Alex Blajan
Sunrise, Trac Vu
Rose, Azmarina Tanzir
Baby, Dicson Wo
Wave, Joshua Dewey
Ocean and rocks, Damir Spanic
Autumn woods, Johannes Plenio
Wave from above, Silas Baisch
Yoga pose, Rishikesh Yogpeeth
Tree, Jeremy Bishop
Leaves, Yoksel Zok
Grand Canyon, Art Markiv
Sunset, Joshua Earle
Stars and mountain, Stefan Stefancik