Why is beauty so important to us?
Not the transitory beauty of fashion, but the profound beauty we see in creation, or in great art and design.
This deeper yearning for beauty is expressed across all cultures. And we know what happens to people groups when they are surrounded by ugly…
Yes, there is individual taste. And some us of might be more drawn to certain forms of beauty than others.
Wired for beauty
It turns out that our brains are wired for beauty (see, for example, Prof Anjan Chatterjee’s 2016 TEDMED talk). We have inbuilt mechanisms to decide what is beautiful. The line, colour and form that excites and stimulates us.
This is because our visual brain is interconnected with the pleasure centres in our brain. So when we see something beautiful we feel good, even if we’re not specifically looking at it.
This isn’t just grand landscapes or intricate leaves. When something is well designed and beautifully put together it generates an inner smile.
One of my favourite books last year was Alan Moore’s ‘Do Design: Why Beauty is Key to Everything’ .
It is a simple and profound offering of how the pursuit of beauty can transform our work. I have let it provoke and encourage me. Challenge me to raise the bar for what I do and how I do it.
I also know that to cultivate beauty in what I do, I need to more consciously surround myself with beauty in all its guises.
Living here in the valley the beauty of creation is a huge part of my life – for which I am profoundly grateful. But I can value it more, taking time to drink it in rather than rushing by.
Lingering over the dew drops on the gorse flowers feeds my soul with beauty. I wouldn’t have seen the perfect drops of water reflecting the wider light if I hadn’t stopped. It made a real difference to my day, and hopefully those around me.
Beauty isn’t only external. There’s an internal beauty that I know is even harder to cultivate. But I sense that in our current world where there has been so much ugliness, it’s worth the effort.
How are you feeding your ‘beauty’ receptors?