The Beauty Matrix or How to Notice Beautiful World Around You
Words and phrases are the language of our mind. How we use them and the definitions we assign to them plays a critical role in how we experience our world. This may seem more complicated than it is; or is it?
While visiting a friend at Rogers, Arkansas we took a drive to view some of the sights of the area. Our tour took us through a beautiful heavily wooded area. After parking, we got out and saw several trails leading off in different directions. Our friend directed us toward the trail he had in mind. For about a quarter of a mile we proceeded down a path when there, at its end stood a small, low sitting, and rather plain appearing building. Going around to the entrance side there was a sign: “Welcome to the non-denominational Chapel of the Hills. Come in and spend a moment with us.”
Once inside my world was turned upside down. The chapel had been built into the hillside. Its design gave the visitor a panoramic view of what lay before it, an overview of a forested quiet lake surrounded by mountains. In a most inviting way the warmth of the afternoon sun provided light for the entire chapel. This spectacular view served as the backdrop for the area where services were celebrated. Facing the altar were several rows of benches where visitors and members could sit.
It was a room that urged stillness among those visiting. As you sat there and if you were quiet enough, you could hear music softly playing in the background. Looking out beyond the glass enclosure the daily activities of nature could be seen, butterflies, squirrels, birds and the like going about their business.
This was one of those moments where adequate words and phrases used to interpret an experience were just not available. The totality of the experience left me with a feeling of warmth, acceptance, and awe. A private moment that I could only acknowledge, but not explain to myself of others.
Most of us have experienced similar events. Ones that cannot be described. The closest description I can find is the one offered by Dorthe Jørgensen, professor of philosophy and the history of ideas at Aarhus University in Denmark. She describes it this way “beautiful thinking.” Adding, “The so-called experiences of beauty can provide us with vital insight: it is possible to perceive reality – and thus society – without resorting to the normal divisions and contrasts.”
These are those events that make us feel better. Let’s see if we can expand our mind in such a way so as to learn how to not only feel better, but more importantly to be able to better feel as a result of our encounters with beauty.
While subtle, what I am trying to say is that feeling better is a worthy goal. Imagine how much greater that goal could be if you encountered your life experiences in such a way that you began to enjoy more of life by being able to better feel and appreciate the many gifts life has to offer you.
The key to thinking beautiful lies in our ability to see what is beautiful in all things. To do this is a three step process:
- Language: Expanding our words and phrases to include descriptions of beauty,
- Acknowledgement: Assigning those words and phrases to events we encounter,
- Action: Believing in the beauty of the event.
Getting to this place in your mind requires an effort on your part. While that effort is not Herculean, it does have certain prerequisites, like:
The Beauty Matrix
While empirical studies of our experiences with beauty are limited, this much we can know. Just as the runner’s body releases spurts of endorphins, when we encounter events expecting to find beauty our body emits certain “happy” hormones. Let’s take a closer look at how you can develop the three step process of beautiful thinking.
Step 1 is language. Before we go there it is important that we acknowledge a big lie told to many a child, sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you. Words and phrases can and do inflict more pain than we can imagine. Unfortunately, in our developmental years little thought is given to teaching us positive or beautiful words.
Examples of beautiful thinking language would include using the very word beautiful. Other words are;
admirable, adorable, alluring, angelic, appealing, beauteous, bewitching, captivating, charming, classy, comely, cute, dazzling, delicate, delightful, divine, elegant, enthralling, enticing, excellent, exquisite, fair, fascinating, fetching, fine, foxy, good-looking, gorgeous, graceful, grand, handsome, ideal, inviting, lovely, magnetic, magnificent, marvelous, mesmeric, nice, pleasing, pretty, pulchritudinous, radiant, ravishing, refined, resplendent, shapely, slightly, splendid statuesque, stunning, sublime, superb, symmetrical, taking, tantalizing, teasing, tempting, well-formed, winning, wonderful.
Write them down and the next time you encounter difficulty describing an experience, try adding in some of the above words.
Step 2 is acknowledgement: Most of us view our world as though we were in a box. Imagine yourself trapped in this box. Each wall of the box representing your previous reactions to similar events. Adequate, but not good enough. Observe how you have allowed limited word availability to limit your experience. The goal is to expand your experiences to include beautiful thinking.
Step 3 is Action: Your final step requires that you do something, take action, by seeing yourself as outside of the box. This action allows you to “see” that box as self-limiting. A barrier to understanding your experiences in an entirely different way. From your new vantage point outside the box you can take action on including all those things that make an event beautiful.
Let me conclude with a final observation borrowed from Dr. Jørgensen. When you have learned to integrate beautiful thinking into your experiences of life, everything has the opportunity to be understood, thought of, and experienced in entirely new ways. Suddenly your life can take on new meanings.
Image credit: www.flickr.com/photos/casavarese/1808487830