In recognition of A Call to Beauty launching next week (yay!), today I’d like to share 10 ways to discover beauty in your world.
#1. Look for it.
The #1 way to discover more beauty in your world is simply to be open to it and conscious of it. There is beauty literally everywhere, if you look for it. This is an attitude shift for many of us. We’re wired to see what we expect. If we expect ugliness and hate, that is what we’ll see.
If I tell you not to think of the color green, green is the first thing you’ll notice. So today I invite you to look for beauty. When you do, beauty is what you’ll see.
#2. Leave yourself a reminder.
It can be difficult to remember to be on the constant look out for beauty. After all, we have dozens of things competing for our time and attention. If you feel too busy to look for beauty, if you think you’ll forget, leave yourself a reminder. Set an alarm on your phone, leave a Post-It note on your computer, or tack up a sign on your wall to remind yourself of the beauty that surrounds us.
#3. Focus on the moment.
If you’re hustling from one meeting to the next, you’ll miss the awe-inspiring sunsets, the wonder of a child’s giggles, or the sucker punch of an unexpected moment of perfect understanding.
As I said above, we all have competing priorities but when you have time, sit peacefully and focus on the present moment. Slowly sip and savor your tea. Stop and smell the roses. Smile at a stranger. When you focus on the moment, the wonder of our human experience becomes more clear.
When you find beauty, breathe deeply into your experience. Let the beauty you’ve uncovered fill you. Take it all in. If you sit with the beauty and allow the wonder, reverence, awe to fill you completely, your positive experience may last all day.
#5. Get outside.
So many of us spend our lives indoors. We move from our house to the car, from the car to the office, from the office to a cafe for lunch, from the cafe to a meeting, then back into our cars and back into our homes at night.
To discover more beauty in the world, spend more time outside. Eat your lunch outdoors. Take an evening stroll through your neighborhood. Hike or bike a local trail on the weekend. One of the easiest places to discover beauty is in our natural world. Enjoy the flora and fauna around you.
#6. Seek meaning.
We humans like to apply meaning to everything we see. We see connections and causations in all kinds of disparate phenomena, in forgetting our umbrella leading to a rainstorm, in taking the wrong exit leading to an unexpectedly pleasant encounter with a friend. Use that natural tendency to uncover more beauty.
Consider looking for hearts wherever you go, as Kelly Rae Roberts and Drew Barrymore do or perhaps look for your favorite number, a circle, or an infinity symbol. Each discovery will be a perfect little moment of beauty and the process of looking will keep you present and engaged in your reality.
#7. Create beauty.
One of the best ways to discover beauty is to create it. No, that’s not cheating.
Think about what gifts you have to share with the world and do so. Attend a painting class. Write out your life story and the beautiful lessons within it. Volunteer with the elderly. Rescue animals. Clean up a neighbor’s porch or yard. Be the beauty you want to see more of in the world.
#8. Honor your beauty.
Once you’ve seen the beauty you can create, you must honor that. You too are a work of art, an integral part of the beauty that exists here on Earth.
Honor the wonder of your gifts, talents, and abilities, the uniqueness of the self that resides within you and looks out into the beauty in this world, and the physical body that allows you to do so many amazing and mundane things each day. All of it is beauty-full.
#9. Look upon others with compassion.
Each of us is creating the world we live in through our beliefs and actions.
If you want a more beautiful world, choose to look with compassion at your fellow humans. You will be creating a softer, gentler world and helping to add to the beauty among us.
Each of us is doing the best we can, with our knowledge and understanding of the world, in this moment. Even those who choose actions you would not and do not condone.
#10. Take note of the beauty you discover.
Make a list of the moments of beauty you discover. As Tyler Kent White writes, “I promise if you keep searching for everything beautiful in this world, you will eventually become it.”
P.S. I’m in a generous mood so I’m going to share with you one of the wallpapers that’s included in my new e-course:
To download and install this wallpaper, click on the image and save it to your hard drive. Once downloaded, locate it on your computer and right-click it with your mouse. Choose the “set as wallpaper” or “set as background” option (whichever your browser displays) from the pop-up menu. The image will then be set as your computer wallpaper.
For 11 more wallpapers like this one and a whole lot more, join me in A Call to Beauty next week!
Mr. Watson and I have been contemplating some major life changes. We haven’t made any decisions yet—in fact, we’re still missing some information that will help us make a decision—but our families often ask for updates or advocate for their preferred outcome. We don’t have any answers.
Amidst all of that, we’re carrying on with our regular lives. We just returned from family visits and he’s busy catching up at work while I’m launching a new product and balancing home and volunteer responsibilities.
There’s no doubt that life can be stressful. We all have tough decisions to make sometimes and we all often run from activity to activity, juggling the needs of work, friends, parents, children. We can become bogged down in our stress, and end up feeling disconnected from each other and from ourselves. So what do you do when you’re feeling stressed or disconnected?
Remember that life is filled with wonder and beauty, too, even in times of stress and struggle. Recognizing the beauty in our situation is a choice, one we each make, moment to moment. Sometimes it is hard to do, I know. That is why I created my new e-course, A Call to Beauty.
If you would like to feel more gratitude, to increase your mindfulness, or to deepen your connection to the Earth and your fellow inhabitants, today is your call to beauty.
A Call to Beauty is a three-month exploration of the beauty around you. It is designed as a series of adventures, each delving into a different arena for you to uncover beauty in your life and our greater world.
During the course, I will send a new lesson to your inbox each week. Each lesson will include an essay about our weekly topic, a personal story that shares how I’ve come to understand and grow from the lesson, a downloadable computer wallpaper to remind you of the week’s theme between lessons, and one or more meditations or exercises to help you explore the lesson further. These meditations and exercises also provide the tools from which you’ll develop your own beauty practice going forward.
If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, I’d love to have you join me. A Call to Beauty premiers September 21st.
In March 2014, I completed a values exercise suggested in Pam Slim’s book Body of Work. After some self-contemplation and narrowing down possible choices, I concluded that beauty was one of my foremost personal values. I defined that value for myself as the acknowledgment of all the beauty in this world, whether in the form of art, nature, or mankind.
Beauty gets a bad rap. People often see it as the superficial attractiveness of individuals or celebrities, something you either have or don’t, a quality that diminishes over time. That’s not the kind of beauty I’m talking about.
Dictionary.com defines beauty as “the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations, a meaningful design, or something else.” Beauty delights the senses and pleases the mind; it can include awe-inspiring visual impact as well as anything that invokes a deep sense of reverence within you.
As John O’Donohue writes in Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, “Beauty dwells at the heart of life. If we can free ourselves from our robot-like habits of predictability, repetition and function, we begin to walk differently on the earth.”
Over the past year, I’ve become more conscious of the beauty that surounds us and now I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you.
On September 21st, I am launching A Call to Beauty, a 12-week e-course that invites you to rediscover all of the beauty that exists in our world. It is a call to seek things that inspire and invoke a sense of wonder within you, to be present to and grateful for your life here and now.
If you’ve felt disconnected or distracted, if the stress of daily life is getting you down, or if you’d like to experience more wonder in your day-to-day life, it would be my pleasure to share my beauty practice with you. Through the course, you will learn tools I’ve used to uncover and honor more of the beauty that surrounds us every day.
As a course preview, I’m offering readers a free downloadable guide, Beauty Surrounds Us. To grab your copy today, click over here.
In the beginning of the getting to know yourself series, I outlined three basic tools—journaling, meditation, and pausing—that enable you to better understand yourself. Now, in this series wrap up, I will share five attitude adjustments that will help you own your own life.
Attitude is important. While our beliefs provide the lens through which we view the world, our attitude shapes our day-to-day choices and impressions. Our beliefs impact our attitude, but we can adjust our attitude without tackling any major belief changes, by simply choosing to approach the world differently. Belief changes can come later or not at all.
Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky has found that very little of our happiness is dependent on what happens to us; 50% of your personal happiness, she says, is based on your genetic set point, 40% is your attitude or outlook toward life, and 10% is what happens to you. Thus, you can make a significant impact on your life simply by adjusting your attitude. How do you do that?
Attitude Adjustment #1: Practice Gratitude
We all become accustomed to our status quo. As psychologist Richard Wiseman writes in his book 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute, “Present an individual with a constant sound, image or smell and something very peculiar happens. They slowly get more and more used to it and eventually it vanishes from their awareness.”
This is true for all of us. I become accustomed to the house I live in, having food available in my refrigerator, a car that starts and drives every time I turn the key. Even people who live in multimillion-dollar houses and drive Ferraris become accustomed to what they have and eventually come to overlook their blessings.
At the same time, bringing your attention to what you’re grateful for is easy and very effective. As cited by Wiseman, psychologists studied the effect of writing down gratitude versus summarizing annoyances or recollections and found that “those expressing gratitude ended up happier, much more optimistic about the future, physically healthier and even exercised significantly more.”
Adopting an attitude of gratitude is a choice, just like any attitude. It’s not contingent on having a partner or a better job or a new car; it’s about appreciating what you have now, in this moment.
Starting a gratitude practice can be as simple as writing down three things you’re grateful for once a week. The key is to find things you are truly grateful for, not begrudgingly grateful. Even when you’ve had a bad day or are unhappy in your current job or life situation, there are things you can appreciate. Maybe someone held the door open for you, you had a delicious mocha, or you have someone special in your life. It’s that simple. As you become accustomed to appreciating what you have, you’ll be able to practice gratitude in the moment as well.
Attitude Adjustment #2: Believe in the Possibilities
We all have a choice whether to believe that what we want is possible or impossible. The former is unequivocally the best choice.
Believing what you want is possible gives you power. Even if your dream isn’t literally possible—I will never be a professional dancer as I once dreamed, for example—you can still take steps toward making your dream possible when you stay positive.
Believing your dream isn’t possible is disempowering and serves no purpose. What do you do if something’s impossible? Nothing, right? It’s impossible, so why bother?
Most of the time, our dreams aren’t literally impossible anyway. They are possible although they may be challenging, or unpopular with our family or friends, but as adults we get to choose for ourselves what works best for us.
Choose to believe in possibilities.
Attitude Adjustment #3: Focus on What You Want
The importance of focusing on what you want is twofold: 1) It helps you stay positive, and 2) reminds you that there’s no reason to seek an end you don’t desire.
Let me give you an example: Recently my husband and I were talking about making a big lifestyle change. We’d both kind of given up on a dream we had, out of practicality, and so I began brainstorming alternatives that could make us almost as happy. I’m a natural strategist; that’s what I do. However, consciously analyzing myriad possibilities and trade-offs grew overwhelming so, out of frustration, I put aside the problem-solving hat for a few days. A few days later, I had a flash of insight about how to achieve our original dream.
What happened to me is common, Dr. Wiseman writes. Our unconscious mind works in the background when we let a problem go in our conscious mind, and that is when truly innovative problem solving happens.
While I’m a big fan of exploring possibilities, they mean nothing if they’re not in service of your goal. In the situation above, I was being overly practical instead of focusing what I wanted. Luckily, my unconscious mind found a solution to my real problem when I stopped trying to analyze the situation ad nauseum.
The other facet of focusing on what you want is letting go of what you don’t; that is, staying positive versus worrying about what could go wrong. Like I suggested in Attitude Adjustment #2, most of what we want is possible. Keeping that in mind gives us power to bring about what we want.
Attitude Adjustment #4: Remember You Are Never Alone
Each of us feels hurt, outcast, or unfairly persecuted sometimes, but this is a transient thing. Something may not be going as we feel it should or we may be in a situation that isn’t serving our needs. Everyone experiences this
I recently spoke to someone I hadn’t talked with in years and she told me about a scary work situation she’d experienced. Her story reminded me of my own, very different, scary work experience, deepening my sense of empathy for her.
All of us, every human being on this planet, experiences stress and challenges, and all of us ultimately want to live happy and healthy lives. That’s part of the beauty of our human experience and there’s a great camaraderie in that, I think.
So, remember you’re not alone the next time something doesn’t go the way you intended. As long as you’re alive, there’s always another chance to get it right.
Attitude Adjustment #5: Remember You Are Worthy
I wrote an entire post about worthiness for this series, and I think it’s worth mentioning again. Believing that you’re worthy is a choice, and I know it’s not always an easy one. It is essential, however.
As Dr. Brené Brown shares, “Worthiness has no prerequisites. Those things you think of as prerequisites are your shame triggers. Where most of us get these is from our family of origin, but we can also get them societally.” Here she shares a bit more with Oprah:
Shame is “the painful belief or experience of thinking we’re unlovable, that we’re unworthy of connection and belonging.” It is a universal experience; everyone experiences it. When we do, our limbic system reacts and we respond by fighting back, retreating (flight), or freezing.
So, what do you do when we experience shame or a feeling of unworthiness? “Empathy is the antidote to shame,” Brené says, and “compassion is making a spiritual commitment to empathy.”
Self-kindness, being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with criticism.
Common humanity, recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience—something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone (which ties nicely to Attitude Adjustment #4).
Mindfulness, a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them.
“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.” So says Max Ehrmann, author of Desiderata, and me.
For more behind Richard Wiseman and Brené Brown’s work, I highly recommend the following resources:
The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection and Courage by Brené Brown, PhD – In The Power of Vulnerability audio program, Dr. Brown offers an invitation and a promise—that when we dare to drop the armor that protects us from feeling vulnerable, we open ourselves to the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. Here she dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and reveals that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.
59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute by Richard Wiseman, PhD – Troubled by the realization that the self-help industry often promotes exercises that destroy motivation, damage relationships, and reduce creativity, psychologist Richard Wiseman examines diverse scientific research that can help you change your life in under a minute and in an easily digestible format.
It’s week nine of the getting to know yourself series and we’re deep into the fruits of knowing yourself, also known as owning-your-life territory. This week, our topic is callings.
The word ‘calling’ is most often used to describe a vocational calling in a divine sense. That’s not the only way to think of callings, however. My favorite definition is from women’s leadership and well-being expert Tara Mohr, who says a calling is “a longing to address a particular need or problem in the world.”
Callings can thus be big or small, lifelong or temporary, and you may have several over the course of your lifetime, even simultaneously. I’ll give you some personal examples:
For more than 20 years now, I’ve felt called to adopt from foster care. As I write that, it seems like a long time, but it wasn’t an acute desire for that entire time. It was something niggling at the back of my mind and growing over time, sparked when I watched a Wednesday’s Child segment as a teenager; and fostered in college when I dated someone who’d been adopted, in my 20s when I volunteered at events for foster children, and then when I became a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) for foster youth in 2011. Adopting is obviously a big calling for me, and one that I’m simultaneously terrified of and excited to begin.
Among my more recent callings, I have felt compelled to share my personal development journey, which I now do here on this blog. And over the past two months, I was consumed with creating A Call to Beauty, a 12-week e-course that launches in September.
As you’ve read through the callings I’ve been experienced, you may have noticed some characteristics of callings. Again, I think Tara Mohr has the best handle on callings and so I’d like to share the following video she created, 7 Ways to Identify Your Calling:
To summarize, in the video Tara shares seven qualities she’s noticed about callings, including:
You have a vision of what could be regarding a particular issue or need in the world.
Or you have a pain or frustration around some aspect of the status quo.
Your calling feels like you’ve been given an assignment, like it’s something you’re supposed to do.
When you’re working on your calling, you feel a sense of ease and flow.
You initially have a lot of resistance toward your calling, however.
You don’t have everything you need to do the calling—yet. But the process of undertaking your calling allows you to gather the resources you’ll need.
You are not yet the person you need to be to complete the calling. But, as Tara explains, our callings are designed to grow us and help us become the person we need to be.
In case you were wondering, the answer to why heeding your callings is important is right there in Tara’s 7th characteristic of a calling: They help us grow and become the person we need to be.
So, what is calling you right now? Where do you feel you’ve been given an assignment, or do you have a new vision for the future or a pain point about an existing situation?
Author Steven Pressfield shares, “Each of us needs to pursue our calling with gusto and to live in that zone of flow as often as possible. Get out of your head and forget everything, be in the present moment and play. If you want to do something, put your body where you want to be. Just do it.”