“When you reach the heart of life, you shall find beauty in all things, even in the eyes that are blind to beauty.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
Perhaps you don’t think of beauty as necessary to a meaningful and fulfilled life.
Many people live every day of their lives without experiencing much beauty at all. They have it around them, but they simply don’t take time to appreciate it.
However, beauty is the quality that thrills the soul and makes life vibrant. But you don’t know that until you invite beauty in to your life.
Beauty elevates us beyond the mundane or even the extraordinary. It exists as an expression of something divine – whether in nature or human inspiration. Like love, beauty isn’t fleeting, and its effects are cumulative. It stirs your heart, your spirit and your intellect. The more you seek and absorb it, the more profound and essential it becomes to you.
To incorporate beauty into your life, recognize and embrace the fulfillment and connectedness it provides, and slow down long enough to savor it. That’s hard to do in a fast-paced world complete with near instant gratification. Like a fine wine or a great meal, beauty can’t be rushed.
You may have read this story about the violin player at a Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007.
A man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately two thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After three minutes, a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.
4 minutes later
The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.
6 minutes later
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.
10 minutes later
A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. He stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.
45 minutes later
The musician played continuously. Only six people stopped and listened for a short while. About twenty gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.
1 hour later
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.
This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.
The larger question is this: why do we not value beauty enough to stop and enjoy it? Think of what we might be missing.
A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books. ~Walt Whitman
Consider inviting beauty into your life more regularly. There are many simple ways to savor beauty.
1. When you wake in the morning, step outside for a few minutes. Look at the trees, the sky, and the clouds. Listen to the sounds of natural things – birds, water, wind.
2. If you live in the city, stand at your window and look outside at the sky, the architecture of the buildings, the way a shadow is formed on the ground below.
3. Bring flowers or a rock or water garden into your home.
4. Turn off the television and play beautiful and stirring music instead.
5. When you drive to work or carpool, get off the highway or main roads and take a scenic route.
6. Stare at an individual flower and study the intricate and delicate elements of it.
7. Take a blanket into your yard, lie down and stare at the stars.
8. Study the grace in the movement of a cat.
9. Keep a book of poetry or beautiful photographs by your bed or in your office. Here are some to look at:
10. Prepare a meal creatively, paying attention to the joy of the preparation, the smells, the simplicity of chopping and stirring. Arrange the food artfully on the plate. Set a beautiful table. Light candles. Play soothing music. Savor the meal.
11. Artfully collect material things for yourself or your home. Don’t buy just to fill a space. Have less that means more and that captures your eye for beauty.
12. Remove ugly, dirty or cluttered things from your living environment.
13. For exercise, try something that involves beautiful movement like dance or tai chi.
14. Keep your camera with you and photograph beautiful things.
15. Look deeply into the eyes of your child or your beloved.
16. Rather than typing a quick e-mail thank you, buy some artful note cards and write a beautiful, thoughtful personal note. Take a look at these:
- Serenity: The Art of Kazuyuki Ohtsu Boxed Notecards, 20 Blank Greeting Cards with 4 Different Styles
17. Try to find beauty in the smallest places or the most mundane environments.
18. Visit a gallery or art exhibition.
19. Go to a dance performance or classical or jazz music concert.
20. Take a long walk orhike in a beautiful setting.
21. Plan a vacation to a new place known for its beauty, in the mountains or at the ocean – or anywhere inspiring.
22. Plant a flower garden or a tree.
23. Watch the sun rise or set.
24. Take a weekend trip to see the fall leaves or snow.
25. Visit a beautiful buildingor structure and admire the architecture and design.
26. Watch a spider build a web.
27. Go to an athletic event and watch the grace of a great athlete.
28. Take an art class or learn to play a musical instrument.
29. Read a book by an author known for exquisite language. Here are a few of my favorites:
- The Red Tent: A Novel
- To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary Edition
- A Man in Full
- Sophie's Choice (Modern Library)
- Cold Mountain
- The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel (P.S.)
30. Go to an observatory and look through a giant telescope at the cosmos.
31. Go to an upscale jewelry, clothing, furniture, or luxury car store (or whatever you find exquisite) and without making a purchase, simply appreciate the beauty of something finely made.
32. Visit a butterfly garden.
Here is a wonderful list of more beautiful things.
Will you please share what you find beautiful and some of the ways you invite beauty into your life?
This article is excerpted from my FREE e-book, How To Live A Meaningful Life. You can download it now as part of The Bold Living Starter Kit and receive free email updates with my latest blog posts.