“That life should appear commonplace to any man is evidence that he has invested it with the coarse habit of his thinking. Life is beautiful to whomsoever will think beautiful thoughts. There are no common people but they who think commonly and without imagination or beauty.” (Stanton Davis Kirkham)
We’ve all heard it said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this too is what Stanton is saying…that beauty begins with the thought you have in response to whatever it is that you’re looking at. Beauty is not found within the object, scene or person itself, but rather in your perception, your interpretation, and your experience of it.
So if you are not seeing enough beauty in your life, change your thoughts and change your way of seeing. Begin to look for the majesty in the structure of a pine cone, the wonder in the intricacy of a butterfly’s wings, or the joy in a raven’s boisterous call.
Beauty is everywhere, if you only look for it and expect to see it. Here’s an example you can use over the holidays: Samantha went to her aunt’s house for a holiday party and hoped against all odds that her uncle Percy wouldn’t be there this year. She knew it was futile to even hope for his absence, as he never missed this party.
She also knew that he was like Kryptonite to her — all the growth and insights she’d experienced over the past year seemed to melt and disappear in his presence. The minute he began to speak to her she felt small, child-like, reactive and upset.
Each year she had come to the party expecting she would be able to handle him, and each year she had gone home feeling like a failure, frustrated with herself. Somehow he managed to push her buttons, no matter how hard she tried to ‘rise above it’.
But this year, she decided to see only the good in Uncle Percy, no matter what his behavior looked like or what he said to her — she was determined to see only the beauty in him.
When she got to the party, she spotted Uncle Percy across the room and she watched him intently, looking for the good. It didn’t take long before she noticed he was getting cookies for Aunt Mabel and bringing her a cup of hot cider, even when she hadn’t asked for these things. Clearly, he was thoughtful and attentive to others.
Samantha continued to observe Uncle Percy as he interacted with the children and inquired about the game they were playing, put his arm around Grandma, and offered to help in the kitchen. Samantha was quite shocked at all the good she was seeing in Percy, and began to wonder why she had never noticed it before — perhaps because she had been focused on seeing ‘what was wrong’…
Finally, the big moment was inevitable — Uncle Percy was heading toward her and intent on having a conversation. Samantha reminded herself to stay tuned into the good in him!
And while surely he said all the same things to her this year, for some reason they didn’t feel like personal attacks anymore. Samantha remembered Percy’s beauty and many acts of caring, and was able to see his personality quirks as just that…and nothing more.
She saw his formerly-irksome behavior and comments as an eccentric part of his personality, rather than as a personal affront to her. For the first time in her life, Samantha was able to interact with Uncle Percy without feeling small or reactive!
She had finally seen the beauty that existed there all along. And while she didn’t feel any particular affinity for him or the desire to have an extended talk with him, Samantha was able to recognize the good in him and to have a quick chat that didn’t feel uncomfortable to her. And that was huge!
This is a great example of how beauty comes from within and attaches to whatever we project it upon. What beautiful things/situations/people will you encounter today? Have you experienced a shift in how you perceive beauty? Please share…
Editor’s Note: Each “beauty” link will take you to a different post about beauty.