At 9:45 a.m. on a cool and sunny morning, I looked up and noticed a woman standing outside the front doors. I walked outside and said to her, “How are you today?” She replied, “Excellent!”
I love when someone responds with the word, “Excellent” when asked how they are because it is so common for people to simply say, “Fine.”
Within a few minutes, the doors opened and this woman excitedly and confidently walked in and told the front desk the purpose of her visit. She was adopting a dog! Not just any dog, but the special dog she had visited here twice before, played with, befriended, and fell in love with. She filled out the paperwork, paid her adoption fees and walked out the door with her new playmate and life pal. It was an uplifting scene to have witnessed because of the excitement in their eyes, the celebration in their faces, and the beauty of their new friendship.
In his inspiring book, author Richard Paul Evans wrote, “Some people have stopped looking for beauty, then wonder why their lives are ugly. Look for beauty in everything and everyone and you will find it.”
Noticing beauty and taking the time to appreciate what you see can take an ordinary day and transport it into something extraordinary. Psychologist Abraham Maslow believed that those who experienced more peak experiences took the time to notice beauty often and this was one of the main reasons why they found so much pleasure in life.
Beauty is a fabulous word to play with because its synonyms: loveliness, exquisiteness, splendor, joy, excite the senses. With all the tragedies that abound, and the internet providing them around the clock on full and glorious display, it is easy to forget about the transforming power of noticing and appreciating beauty.
I read a story about a man who was building a home and he somehow missed the nail with his hammer and hit his thumb instead! Ouch! It was a direct hit and the resultant pain was unbearable. To ease his discomfort, he immediately and instinctively began to wildly jump up and down as he shouted obscenities. In the distance, two elderly women were taking a stroll in the countryside, stopped, and watched his flamboyant antics. One of the women said, “Look how beautifully he sings and dances,” and then they continued on their leisurely walk.
What people see and experience in the same situation can be startlingly different. The difference is perception. Perception is our sensory experience of the world around us. Perception can literally take us to the heights of heaven or the depths of despair and everywhere in between. We can focus on the good and/or we can focus on the flaws and in both instances we will find what we are looking for.
Beauty is all around us. It is in the immensity of the stars, the ravishing rising and setting of the sun, and the lovely phases of the moon. Beauty is in the expansiveness of the ocean, the lakes, the streams, and waterways. It is in the vibrant colors of nature, the flowers, rocks, and the trees. It is in the people we lovingly call family, which includes our friends and pets. It is in the caring acts of strangers.
Novelist Franz Kaffka wrote, “Anyone who uses their ability to see beauty never grows old.”
John Tamiazzo, PhD, is the executive director of the Verde Valley Humane Society