Are you and Aesthete?

It’s officially spring here in the U.S. After a particularly long winter, where plants, birds, wildlife, and even the sun seemed to go dormant, nature is reemerging. White crocuses and yellow daffodils poke out of the earth back east. Here in the West, Pal0 Verde trees have exploded in a riot of yellow blossoms.

I find tremendous beauty in nature and art, and it makes me feel good. 

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I walked my dogs this morning, all the while thinking about how to convey the power of noticing beauty in our lives. Without my camera, I made mental notes of the sights that gave me particular pleasure:

– a tiny hummingbird perched on the uppermost twig of a blossoming tree.

– the perfect 67 degree temperature, sunny and dry, with the sun still low in the sky.

– the rusty red, and rounded rock formations of Camelback Mountain creating an intimate and awesome backdrop.

– my neighbor playing catch with her young son as they awaited the school bus. In this case it wasn’t about physical beauty, but an appreciation of her actions. I witnessed a moment of excellent parenting; a beautiful thing.

Science has shown that noticing beauty and excellence in our surroundings can have a profound effect on our mood. For example, a New York Times article, “Why We Love Beautiful Things,” reported:

– “glancing at shades of green can boost creativity and motivation”

– “window views of landscapes…can speed patient recovery in hospitals, aid learning in classrooms and spur productivity in the workplace”

sea-urchin-fractal– viewing certain patterns and shapes (specifically fractals) “can reduce stress levels by as much as 60 percent.” (cool examples – especially this sea urchin)

If you are particularly responsive to beauty, sensitive to how it enriches your life, bolsters your mood, and contributes to your happiness, congratulations, you’re an aesthete. It’s a good thing, I promise. Not something to be trivialized, but rather cultivated and celebrated.

Maximize this strength by using it regularly. Surround yourself with sights, sounds, and experiences that lift your spirits. After all, you have sure-fire mood booster at your disposal — finding beauty.

Feel free to share your observations below. I’d love to hear from you.

WANT MORE?  Join my FREE 10-day challenge – Boost Your Happiness by Finding Beauty. Each day becomes a treasure hunt!

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What Gandhi Taught Me About Diet and Exercise

“Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment. ― Mahatma Gandhi

GandhiAs I read this quote this morning, it seemed to encapsulate the answer to something I’ve been puzzling over.

Why do some people who want to drop unhealthy habits lack the power to turn the desire into action?

If only I could find the answer to this question, surely my impact as a health coach would go through the roof! Yet I realized that I already know the answer. Gandhi just did a great job of expressing it – even if he wasn’t actually referring to diet and exercise.

The essential difference between those that talk about positive change and maybe take a stab at it now and then, and those that decide to do it, and succeed is the source of their motivation, or to use Gandhi’s term, the source of their “power.”

Many of my clients, and it’s safe to say a big percentage of Americans, so often try to eat less or start an exercise program because they know they should. “Yeah, yeah. I know that I should…” I hear that phrase ALL. THE. TIME.

What I’m also hearing is a lot of negative emotions, starting with fear of change. Change means going outside of our comfort zone, forming new routines, and abandoning time-worn patterns. Shame is often in the mix, maybe in the form of a perceived finger wag from our doctor or loved one –“Shame on you!” Similarly, we might feel ashamed of our less-than-perfect appearance. Then there’s waving goodbye to the way things used to be. We’ve lost our youth and vitality and mourn that we can no longer do things we once enjoyed like climbing a mountain, or riding bikes with our kids.

On the other hand, people who successfully improve their lifestyle do so out of positive emotions. We feel respect and gratitude for the one body we have – with all its imperfections — and realize the importance of self-care. Self-compassion instead of self-loathing arises in the face of challenges; the unwanted pounds, the busy schedule that precludes regular exercise, and the effort it takes to change eating habits. Pride in our appearance is a goal, and last but certainly not least, we are hopeful that change is possible.

So allow me to rephrase Gandhi’s insightful words to zero in on motivation:

Motivation to change based on self-love is a thousand times more effective, permanent, and joyful than motivation based on negativity and fear.

Image Source: Wikipedia Commons