Updated: Jul 22, 2021
The idea of Beauty as a Public Health matter may seem strange at first, but please hear me out. I keep coming back to this idea that if we focus more on finding joy and beauty, awe and wonder, then maybe we would see things differently. For those of you who are not already familiar with me and my work, I have an academic and professional background steeped in public health. This experience has sharpened my focus and really opened my world to the importance of quality of life, which is a bit elusive because it is so subjective. How do we measure it? But just because we don’t know how to measure it, doesn’t mean that it isn’t important. Right?
I find it interesting that we talk about beauty all the time, but we’re not really engaged with it; it's not at the forefront of our lives. And so, in my work, beauty is at the forefront.
Most often we find that the dehumanization, the ugliness of what we could be is at the forefront and the feeling-self, the community connection, that which is messy and hard to quantify is ignored. The focus is on cold, hard facts. And then there's warm data that I learned through the work of Nora Bateson – the stuff we cannot measure and is messy but vital and at the core of who we are and is in between us. And it is particularly important information.
So I decided to focus on beauty because I look at it as kind of the wellspring, the core essence that gives rise to all these other things such as creativity, mindfulness, gratitude and kindness and compassion. Beauty strengthens our connections, heals, gives us a sense of wellbeing, shows us how to be in relationship, helps think and see differently, and promotes a reverence and respect for others and our environment ultimately creating a culture of caring. From Piero Ferrucci’s book Beauty and the Soul
“Beauty is a primary principle that touches all parts and functions... It opens us to the world and brings harmony to our relation with others and with nature; it helps us reach out and touch the entire universe.”
What is popular are things that we have spent time measuring and researching, for example, gratitude, which is again, vital and important. So it's easier to say, 'oh, write down five things that you are grateful for every day and you will see such and such changes'. And I just wanted to go bigger to include gratitude and much more.
Someone once asked me “How are you defining beauty?” and that was the moment when I realized how I could start. Why does it matter to you what I think? My human experience is different from yours, but I am sure we overlap at some point somewhere. And in that overlap is the magic possibility.
So I created Experiments in Beautiful Thinking - a five step process that is both a self care practice and a source for deepening your creative expression. I run it as workshops and trainings. (Going live again on September 1 - let me know you are interested) It is centered on cultivating and bringing to the forefront the personal experience of beauty and really teasing out what that is for you and how your experience of beauty can transform the way you see yourself, your situation, and your environment. The way I see it, beauty is health; that which is beautiful is free to flourish and unfurl into its truest expression.
Please stay tuned for Parts II and III of this blog post series, wherein I’ll outline my simple and joyful process for crafting a self-care practice that transforms one’s mundane day-to-day tasks into moments of beauty.