Why beauty is important

There is a beautiful Chinese proverb that reads

“When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.”

This has always resonated with me as I strongly believe that beauty in our surroundings is as important to our health as good food. I know personally that I function better when my home is tidy and well presented. I always feel calm when the space around me has nicely coordinating or complimentary colors. I’m definitely happier when I’ve made an effort to dress in pretty clothes and a bit of jewellery.  One of my favorite things in the world is to walk in the front door and see flowers on the table. It may seem at first vain or superficial, but beauty for me is essential to my mental health.  Unfortunately it’s often the thing we let go of first though when things get hard.

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When you’re busy, stressed or feeling a bit low, beauty is often seen as far too much effort so we put it on hold. After all, the extra 10 minutes you need to put together a pretty outfit is time you could spend in bed.  And why would you spend $20 on flowers when you’re broke this week.   Who cares about the chipped nail polish on your toes, no one’s going to see it right?  I had a funny conversation with a friend just yesterday who was telling me that she puts away all her nice wine glasses for special occasions, so she never ends up using them.  I was visiting a friend recently who had the most beautiful candles with glorious smells, but she never burns them. She’s saving them, she’s not sure for what though.  They sit hidden on a shelf barely visible behind some books. 

I’m sure everyone has something of beauty that they never get to enjoy because it seems too special for everyday use but I believe every moment in life is worthy of being a special occasion and should be treated as such.

Every moment of beauty in your life that you sacrifice is a moment you lose to the mundane.

Still don’t believe me?

In this fantastic post Karen Maleck-Whiteley sums it up with this comment on a book called   “Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things,” where Don Norman presents his theory on why we chose aesthetics before function.

“He believes that beautiful things change your emotions in a positive way, making you feel happy and less stressed. Your emotional state then affects your perceptions and your effectiveness in completing tasks. When you are happier and less stressed, most things you do are easier.”

Try it for yourself. Today buy $5 worth of flowers and put them somewhere you can see them, be it your desk at work or coffee table at home. If you can’t do that, go steal some daisies from someone’s garden, or twigs of lavender from a hedge.  They don’t have to be grand or impressive, but the pop of color will make you smile every time you catch sight of them.

Next time you have a cup of tea or coffee, have it out of the prettiest or most colorful cup you can find. If you have a cute matching tea-pot somewhere, haul it out and use it!!

Got a pair of sparkly shoes at home? Put away your fear and wear them to work. Seriously. Sparkly shoes peeking out from below your serious somber black work pants? Brilliant!

If bringing these small flashes of beauty into your day doesn’t at least make you smile a little then I will personally deliver an enormous bunch of flowers to you while wearing a chicken suit.

And don’t forget, there is beauty everywhere you look.  It’s all too easy to tune it out during the hustle and bustle of your day. Once you start becoming aware of it, you’ll find it turning up in the most unexpected places.

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BeautyTarryne West