Why You Need Beauty and 32 Ways to Invite More of It Into Your Life

“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:

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:

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.

Comments

  1. Sitting still, with empty mind, watching waves. Here is a link to a video of waves I shot while on a shooting trip to California this spring. The waves have a uniquely powerful, meditative, tranquil beauty, as only Nature can create:
    http://bit.ly/9ikEHp
    Great blog Barrie! Really enjoy the content & beautiful intention behind it.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Kevin,
      Thank you so much for that beautiful video! I would love to have that playing all the time. I have a sister who lives in Santa Cruz. There is a world of beauty in that lovely city. Thank you for sharing a piece of it.

  2. Scott McIntyre says:

    This is so true – often, we can be so busy that we don’t notice all the things of beauty around us.

    If we just slow down and really, really look at what’s in our lives, it’s possible to be left speechless.

    Someone once told me to look up when walking around a city – instead of looking down and instead of just focussing on our hurried thoughts. The beauty above eye-level is missed if we never raise our heads… and I guess the same can be said of our appreciation of the beauty in life too.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Scott,
      I used to live in NYC, and everyone would walk with their eyes down. They didn’t want to make eye contact with anyone lest it slow down their rapid pace toward work or wherever they were going. Only the tourists would look up and around. How sad to live every day staring at the dirty sidewalk when there is so much beauty around us.

  3. This is a wonderful list! Thank you for including links too!
    I like the one about cooking a meal and really taking in every aspect of it. I’m a baker and I love to bake slowly and carefully, taking in every movement, color and texture. Making sure I smell each ingredient and then watching as it bakes. It’s really a wonderful experience that is so easily missed.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Ok Megan, we are all coming to your house. I want some of whatever it is you are baking! I don’t bake much, because I might eat it and then watch my butt get bigger. But I love cooking when I have the time to really savor what I’m doing and savor the meal with people who enjoy it. Thank you for your kind comments.

  4. Beautiful Story. Beauty has to be found and appreciated.
    I love looking up at the sky. It always looks beautiful to me.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      I love the sky too Carolina. Yesterday just at dusk, the sky was full of big fluffy clouds, and the sun was shining behind them so that the edges of the clouds were lit up brilliantly. It was stunning. I nearly had a wreck trying to capture it in my mind. I’m so glad you commented.

  5. Beautiful article 🙂 You explained so well my philosophy – beauty surrounds us, and has a positive impact on our life – if only we let it in.
    .-= Cristina´s last blog ..Whole-wheat &amp honey biscuits =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Cristina,
      So happy to see you here! You have an extraordinarily beautiful blog. Readers, you must visit Cristina’s blog if you appreciate beauty!

  6. Beautiful post – it reminds everyone that we need to have balance in our lives. I loved the story of Joshua Bell. I think one of the most important places to create beauty is in your own home. We spend so much time there, we wake up to it everyday – to get rid of the clutter – yes that is very important. When your home is a place of beauty you feel peaceful.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Oh I couldn’t agree more about beauty in the home. Now if only I could educate my 3 teenagers about that. Their mission in life is to spread clutter and chaos in their wakes!

  7. What a beautiful post!
    I love number 10 – prepare a meal creatively. This practice is so lost in our busy world!
    A friend prepared a beautiful cheese tray this weekend with prosciutto from the local deli and homemade vegan brownies. It didn’t take tons of time and it was so pretty to look at. Then, she served it on vintage appetizer plates from her Grandma. It was a simple snack, but so beautiful.
    I would have to add grinding your own coffee and drinking in from your favorite mug to the list.
    Have a great week!
    Melissa
    .-= Melissa Gorzelanczyk´s last blog ..How to Turn Ideas into Actions =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Oh that does sound lovely Melissa. It doesn’t take much time to do things artfully. I’m with you about the special mug for coffee. Why does it make the coffee taste better?

  8. The 2-year-old “grocery store” orchid which continues to Bloom Bold and Live despite my neglect! How does it manifest so many huge flowers out of nothing more than a handful of rocks, a half cup of water now and again and a little sunshine? A true miracle.

    Thanks for including poetry in your list of beautiful things Barrie!
    .-= Linda Gabriel´s last blog ..What Can We Learn from the Movie “Inception” =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Linda,
      I love orchids, and I know what you mean about those grocery store orchids. I had one that lasted forever. They are so stunning in their simple elegance. Yes, they are bold bloomers! 🙂

  9. That is a wonderful list and I felt so happy how many of them I already do. I live a 5 minute walk from the Pacific Ocean and frequently go down and watch the waves crashing. I hope this can reach the people who need it ; such as those who couldn’t take a few moments to appreciate a beautiful musical piece being played. We are surrounded by such beauty if we would just open our eyes and see it. Thanks for the post.
    .-= Arley´s last blog ..Completed quilts =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Arley,
      How wonderful that you live so close to the beach. My desk sits at a bay window in my office that looks out on a small lake. I see all kinds of wildlife and water is always in my line of vision.
      Yes, I wish everyone could stop for a moment to appreciate the wonder around them.

  10. Barrie,

    This post is right up my alley! I think beauty is a priority! And I had never heard the Joshua Bell story. Wow.
    I appreciate the ideas in the comments as well. Things that bring much beauty to my home are photos of happy moments and any art work done by family members.
    Another place I find beauty is in coaching clients. Even though I talk with them over the phone, I can “see” their beauty, which is often hidden from them under limiting and negative beliefs.
    Thanks for the post! I recently discovered your site and have become a fan.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Maura,
      Thank you for your lovely comments. Yes, watching and helping someone evolve is beautiful. And I’m so glad you mentioned family photos and art. I have an entire wall covered with framed family photos — and several framed masterpieces by my children!

  11. I really enjoyed the story and your list! It has inspired me to make dinner time more beautiful again. Thank you!
    .-= Wendy Irene´s last blog ..Life’s a Beach =-.

  12. This is a wonderful list and something to certainly bring more of into our lives. I especially love the idea of taking a trip solely to watch the leaves or snow fall. I might just have to make that happen.
    .-= Simply Luxurious´s last blog ..An Abode in Boston =-.

  13. A beautiful topic and a beautiful list. Being aware of beauty is so important because it vibrates at a higher frequency that attracts pleasant experiences into our lives.

    Two of my favorite beauties are dogs and rain. Dogs are truly moving masterpieces of emotion and artistry. They can lift you from a despair to joy in an instant.

    Rain has so many layers to it–so many different looks and sounds and smells that I think it is a much underrated source of beauty.

    I’d also add to your beautiful language list any books by Anne Rivers Siddons. She makes prose sing.
    .-= Ande´s last blog ..Be At Peace With Your Mates =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Ande,
      I’m so glad you mentioned dogs. I think there is such beauty in their soulful eyes. So much understanding. And rain, of course, is incredible. Big loud thunderstorms are the best. Thank you for your comments. I love Anne Rivers Siddons’ books too.

  14. Barrie, I know this story about the famous violinist and there is no way I would not have stopped to listen. I stop at the sound of violin every where I travel – and to hear a professional play – how is it possible not to slow down/ I have seen the video of this too and I am sure you can see it in YouTube! Thank you for this!
    .-= Farnoosh´s last blog ..Beyond the First 30 Days- Staying Committed to Habits =-.

  15. ANOTHER great post! I love the anthropological study with Joshua Bell and his Stradivarius. It got me to pay more attention to what’s happening around me. I live on the Northern CA coast with a view of the ocean. We chose to move here a year ago with the sole intention of experiencing the beauty of the sea. It was a big sacrifice in many ways but it has been good for my soul. I have always been blessed to live surrounded by beauty but the most beautiful things in my life are my son and my husband. My son is a teenager now and I hear so many negative things said about teens. We had dinner together tonight; he’s been gone on vacation with his dad for 3 weeks. As we ate and chatted, I soaked in his beautiful face, his easy smile, and his generous nature. Our children mark time, they grow so quickly. When my son was born I vowed that I would cherish every moment with him as if it were the last. My husband and I always kiss each other good morning, goodbye, and greet each other with an embrace and a kiss. We all tell each other, ‘I love you’ whenever we part or end a phone conversation. This is beauty to me.

  16. Barrie,
    I’m just back from a vacation near both the ocean and mountains. So filled with beauty, and being away from home (and from all the normal distractions in life), I let these fully engulf me. So peace-filled, and so, so beautiful.

    I loved reading this list you shared, and just letting these thoughts of beauty soak into my soul today.

    Much peace,
    Lance
    .-= Lance´s last blog ..On Fields Pond =-.

  17. Sher Graham says:

    The things I find beautiful are:
    1. A baby’s smile
    2. Silence
    3. Laughter
    4. Sunsets
    5. Sunrise
    6. Rain
    7. Friends who call you for no reason
    8. Friends who enjoy my early morning voice mail songs
    9. A thank you from someone
    10. Helping someone without needing thanks
    11. Sharing knowledge about something to help someone make a decision
    12. Seeing a teenager excel when he/she thought they couldn’t
    13. A senior who learns the computer and gets it
    14. Trusting without knowing
    15. Peace within
    16. A text message or handwritten message from a friend or loved one
    17. Knowing that the cards I sent to my older family members are appreciated
    18. Unconditional love from God and the Spirit
    19. My heritage and what journey my ancestors have taken
    20. Loving those afar through prayer and mindful thoughts without their knowing

  18. Thanks Barrie. I enjoyed the post very much. It’s my first time here and it makes me believe that your free book that I have just downloaded will be just as great. Best wishes

  19. Julian Coelho says:

    the story is moving but deceiving, that kind of music is an acquired taste, and even if you put a sampling of the mass of humanity into La Scala to hear him play, most will be utterly bored and earn to escape home to listen to folk or popular music. It is an acquired taste and cannot be immediately appreciated without training in all cases.