Prosilience #29: Everyday Beauty
How ordinary moments can help us build resilience
For the past few years I’ve taken regular morning walks with a friend and her dog. I’ve begun a practice of capturing images along the way with my phone camera. I share them on social media, and have been amazed by the number of people who have told me, when we meet in person, how much they enjoy my #morningwalk photos.
When I ask them what they appreciate about these pictures, they often tell me they like how I notice the things that are all around us but often overlooked.
We often think of beauty as something special and rare, but I have come to believe that it is all around us, and that if we pay attention we can find it everywhere. I also believe that taking the time to pay attention to it is an important ingredient in helping us manage life’s challenges with more ease and grace.
How Everyday Beauty Nourishes Resilience
Here are three ways we support and enhance our resilience when we have our eyes open for beauty.
Lifting Energy Our energy is always moving in upward or downward spirals. Small things that start positive motion have the potential to create lift, interrupting energy-draining patterns and beginning healthy and hopeful cycles.
Being Present Staying alert to the possibility of beauty calls on us to be in the present moment, rather than getting caught up in regrets about the past or worries about the future. This is one of the ingredients in mindfulness, which has been linked to reduced stress and increased happiness.
Positivity Recognizing possibilities around us helps counterbalance the human tendency to focus attention on problems, issues, and negative things, and builds our skill at reframing situations from problems to potential opportunities.
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Former National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones writes and speaks on the theme of Celebrate What’s Right With the World. I’ve loved his work since I first ran across it, and was delighted to see this TEDx talk he gave.
Many Kinds of Beauty
The examples I’ve shared so far focus on visual images, but there are many more ways that beauty shows up in our everyday lives. Here are a few examples that come to mind:
The energy in children running or a dog leaping and bounding
A sentence or phrase worth savoring in a poem, book, or movie
The kindness of a driver making room for another car on the road, or a passenger helping a stranger put their bag in an overhead bin
The toe-tapping joy of a song that lifts my spirits
A warm hug from a friend I haven’t seen in a while
These moments are around us all the time, but we often forget to take the time to notice. We take them for granted and let them roll on by us rather than pausing to take a deep breath and appreciate them.
As you look around, what do you see that delights you? What images do you carry with you of beautiful moments? Which of your senses is most attuned to beauty? Is there someone in your life with whom you particularly enjoy sharing small delights? What have you felt and thought when you have taken the time to absorb a small, lovely experience? Are there places in your life that feel lacking in beauty? How might you pay extra attention to the unexpected gifts hiding in these places? What could you do to help others notice beauty in the world around them?
Walking in Beauty
I’ll close with an excerpt from a prayer that is part of the Blessingway Ceremony of the Navajo (Diné) People. The root of the ceremony, hózhó, encompasses concepts of wholeness, harmony, beauty, balance, well-being, and natural order.
In beauty all day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons, may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With dew about my feet, may I walk.
With beauty before me may I walk.
With beauty behind me may I walk.
With beauty below me may I walk.
With beauty above me may I walk.
With beauty all around me may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk
It is finished in beauty
It is finished in beauty
I hope you’ve enjoyed this issue of the Prosilience newsletter. See you in a few weeks for the next installment.