In our rational mindset, many devote their lives to obtaining and maintaining knowledge and reason. We run the risk of being obsessed to the point that we forget to appreciate the better things in life. To enjoy ourselves, to enrich the soul. In this small series, I will discuss these things with you in an attempt to help you improve the enjoyment of your life.
You might be wondering; why would the first thing to discuss be beauty? How can beauty help me better enjoy my life?
Well, the answer is fairly simple; it’s around us all the time, everywhere. Beauty can be found in so many ways; from a good result to a bad event, the intricacy of nature, a flower, a painting, a building or a sunset. If we could harness this beauty, the powerful, positive energy that it is, our lives would be a lot more bearable than it often is. It will help us appreciate those moments of peace and quiet, of joy and excitement there is so much beauty that surrounds them. We could then use this to put into perspective our sorrows, failures and depressions.
Probably the least original subject on this list, is arts. The aim for aesthetics, the search for perfect compositions, balance and sometimes even automotive ingenuity, the arts offer us a full range of both beauty and ugliness.
Many people have come to view the art world as ‘elitist’, ‘vague’ or ‘expensive’. Admittedly, many museums require exorbitant entrance fees to get admission, but that doesn’t mean art is necessarily expensive. In many public buildings these days, there are expositions of artists hoping to sell their work to passers-by.
The very purpose of these expositions, is exactly what I urge you to do next time you pass by one; to stop and take a good look. Not to just turn your head and judge, but to really study it. If you like it, try to make clear to yourself exactly why you like it. If you don’t like it, challenge yourself to find at least one thing you do like.
I admit, sometimes this can be a challenge that seems insurmountable. Personally, I can look at a Picasso for hours and not find anything I actually like. But the excercise is useful nonetheless.
Perhaps more valuable than this, is the tendency of art to have amazing back stories. For instance, I love the Picasso work ‘Guernica’. Not because I like it aesthetically, but because of the back story, mixed with the chaos Picasso reoresents using triangles, squares and barely recognizable body parts which cross each other, flying around, all sizes. (The painting resembles the bombing of a market in Guernica, Spain) Not only does it speak to the imagination, but it also warrants the style of painting.
Last but not least, art is often a form of social commentary. This too, especially for the political junkies among us, is a quite satisfying and often admirable aspect of the arts; the use of imagery to influence the world around you. This in itself is a remarkable and therefore beautiful feat of humanity.
So you see, one doesn’t need deep pockets of money, knowledge or status to enjoy the arts. All that is needed is some time and an eye for wonder and beauty.
While buildings tend to cast a long, dreary shadow over us, they can and should be a great source of happiness as they are built to be as beautiful as can be.
Of course, beauty is ver much subjective, but that’s the fun. Like with arts, the challenge is to find things you do like and figure out what it is that makes you dislike certain buildings. Another good idea is to try to understand the history of architecture. This will unlock entirely new ways to appreciate the world around you. It will enable you to recognize when certain buildings were built and what their original use was.
Many of us already know the vast wealth of beauty nature has to offer. Most of us will know either a bird watcher, amateur fisherman or a sporting hunter. Even more of us will periodically look at a tree or flower in awe of its beauty.
But there is more to it. Especially us, as free thinkers and people who are aware of the science behind nature, we are in an unprecedented position to appreciate this wonder in its true form; we can appreciate the fact that everything is made up of the same molecules and atoms, the processes of the circle of life, the fact that this all originated from a great expansion about 14 billion years ago. The fact it is all fuelled by our own personal star. The beauty of it all expands exponentially with our understanding of it.
Beauty in performance
We have seen that the experience of beauty need not be through aesthetics. Rather, it applies to almost everything on earth. It can be hidden in the flips of a falling object or in the smile of a less privileged person.
So why not seek out this beauty? Care for people more than you might have up till now, become a volunteer perhaps! Aim to embody that beauty and to spread it, but also look around you. In our current societies, of which many people say it’s rough and careless, it is still very easy to find the beauty, the love and the friendship.
We have established that observing beauty makes ones life simpler and more enjoyable. We have increased our potential for observing beauty by disconnecting beauty from aesthetics. I have given you some simple ways in which you might further increase your potential for the observation of beauty.
I wish you luck and happiness and I hope to see you again in the next installment of this series; enjoy your life; expectation management.