Finding the Beauty in the Everyday

The beauty of a sunset, the elegance of a ballroom dancer, the majesty of an ancient temple—these are only a few of the many ways people describe beauty. But what is beauty exactly? Is it a subjective experience of pleasure or an objective attribute of the things around us? The answer is not as straightforward as you might think.

Throughout history, philosophers have debated the nature of beauty. Some, like Plato and Aristotle, saw beauty as an ideal that transcends humankind. Others, such as David Hume, argued that it’s all in the eye of the beholder. What’s beautiful to one person might be ugly to another.

In recent years, scientists have also investigated the biological underpinnings of beauty. Studies show that the eyes and brain respond to certain facial features. For example, a smile is often rated as more beautiful than a frown, particularly when it’s accompanied by direct eye contact. A person’s skin tone, facial proportions and bone structure also influence their attractiveness.

But perhaps the most interesting findings have been the social consequences of beauty. In a series of experiments, researchers found that attractive people enjoy a number of advantages. They’re more likely to get a job, earn higher wages and have more stable marriages than their less-attractive counterparts. They’re also more likely to be acquitted of crimes and receive lower bail. And, of course, good looks have a powerful effect on the self-esteem of those who are blessed with them. A blowout or a new shade of lipstick can be a confidence booster, making it easier to ask for a raise or walk into a room full of strangers.

Even in the darkest of times, beauty can be found. Victor Frankl, a Nazi prisoner, used his ability to see beauty in even the most bleak of situations to sustain himself. Finding the beauty in simple activities, such as taking a walk or watching magenta rosebuds bloom or robins sing to each other, can help people weather life’s difficult moments.

To find the beauty in the everyday, people should focus on their values and goals. Identifying what’s important to them, such as family and friends or work-life balance, can help them recognize the beauty in their daily lives. They can also look for beauty in their surroundings by spending time outside or by displaying art and objects that are meaningful to them. Gratitude can be an effective tool to practice beauty, too, by helping people appreciate what they have instead of focusing on what’s lacking.