Why noticing beauty is radical
Beauty is often objectified, but its natural essence is the root of creativity.
DD HQ here. When you think of the word ‘beauty’ what comes to mind?
We know where your brain is going 👀 …and that’s not what we mean.
For nearly all of human history, ‘beauty’ has been a mysterious, elusive idea. Philosophers, thinkers, creators, scientists and even us regular observers have been trying to put bounds around the concept of beauty since the beginning of time - it’s proven difficult to define.
Even more, there has always been a tension between the simplicity of beauty from a scientific perspective, and the way it’s talked about in our culture. But, beauty is part of our natural wiring and a foundational element of our creative brains.
Before we talk about the complicated stuff, let’s get one thing straight: when we look at where beauty is processed our brains, it’s actually quite simple. Some scientists even call the the medial orbital frontal cortex - i.e. the one area where we process reward and pleasure - the ‘beauty center.’
And, while there isn’t an organized definition of beauty, it’s seen as one of life’s basic pleasures. One that also has an important impact on our overall well-being:
“We feel more sympathy and compassion for, and are elevated and enriched by what is beautiful.”
The mechanism of processing beauty may be simple, but what happens to our emotions because of it is complex. Take this for example: When most people are asked how a beautiful image or song makes them feel, the most common response is ‘moved.’
We may cry-smile watching a sunset. We may feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude listening to our favorite song, while also recognizing that we are a tiny blip in the universe.
Beauty helps us feel…human.
That’s because, even though we are focusing on absorbing information externally, our brain is mind-wandering. Our naturally creative brains are making connections under the surface and holding space for multiple feelings at once.
At Daydreamers, it’s our mission to redefine how we take in and prioritize beauty, because it isn’t just core to our creativity - it changes our well-being for the better. We know that consciously recognizing beauty around us lowers stress and anxiety, makes us feel more connected and can even make our physical bodies healthier.
So, if beauty has such an impact on us, why do we downplay its importance?
Well, in modern times life is all about aesthetic. Multi-billion dollar industries are created around beauty - preserving it, enhancing it, and even judging it. But at the same time, we also see it as frivolous. Unimportant. Sometimes even surface-level.
That’s the exact issue. Instead of observing the natural beauty around us, we are constantly trying to create an unattainable version of it.
By fully taking in the beauty that already exists in our environment, we can bring more natural, emotionally-shifting beauty into our daily lives. In psychological research, this is called savoring, or actively extending good-feeling emotions.
Savoring is actually the focus of an entire journey within Daydreamers Burnout Pathway. It helps us practice self-compassion. It allows us to experience awe and wonder.
And most importantly, by actively noticing the beauty all around us - we remember the parts of the human species that make us human.
Katina + Dupi
and the entire team @ DD HQ
An idea to noodle on 💭
Reveling in beauty isn’t frivolous
THINK ON THIS: Our brain is doing important stuff for our emotions when it’s taking in beauty. Even noticing a simple flower actually has a powerful effect on your emotions, like lowering stress and anxiety. Though they seem to have little practical use, they have long signaled a safe environment - whether that was when our ancestors were looking for a place to sleep, or someone apologizing with a bouquet.
…MAYBE NOT THAT: We don’t need to look beautiful - we just need to notice it around us. Our brains have evolved to feel sympathy and compassion for things that mimic the beauty of the natural world. Even just looking at trees, flowers or water can lower blood pressure and muscle tension.
Inside our brains at DD HQ 🧠
Speaking of mind-wandering, put your phone down - your brain is more enjoyable than you think 🙃 A perspective on burnout we can get behind. Our team couldn’t get enough of this art-imitates-life IRL. Adulthood these days feels like the opposite of beauty; but these tips seem grounded in reality. Feel like beauty + color is less apparent in our world today? You’re actually right.
Ideas from the DD Crew 🛸
“I've been striving hard towards one thing or another my whole life. Taking some time most days to "play with art" has changed the way I move through the world in surprising ways. In my career, a touchstone phrase is "perfect is the enemy of good" but even with years of practice, it has been a struggle each day to stop at good enough or to just do the thing even though I haven't figured out the best way to do it yet. The single largest change in my life [since joining Daydreamers] has been finding true ease in the act of doing things just well enough.”
DD Early Access member, Nell 🙃