Life doesn’t always feel very beautiful. There’s global warming, war, disease, death, abuse, ice cream (yes, it’s on the list because it’s gross), crime, racism, discrimination, hate, fear, and more. And a lot of these are issues that we see or have to deal with on a regular — sometimes daily — basis. So how do you go about making life beautiful?
But luckily life being beautiful isn’t exclusive to life being perfect. And a part of making life beautiful is looking for and creating beauty around you. It’s also recognizing that sadness doesn’t destroy happiness and that everything works together to make a more beautiful whole — the good and the bad.
Differentiating Between Beauty and Perfection
When I was in college, I studied English. And in one of my classes the professor had us write an ekphrastic poem.
Ekphrastic poetry is usually centered around a scene or a work of art, but since ekphrasis is just the Greek word for ‘description,’ I decided (with my 20-year-old wisdom) to write my poem around a word: flawless.
Perfection and beauty.
The first flake of snow
A drop of rain.
A baby’s first laugh
The voice of your mother scolding you
Your brother describing his day.
To be flawless is to be without defect.
How can this goal ever be reached?
How can anything be flawless?
Their cracks make them whole.
For a little bit of context, I wrote this poem about a year after my elder brother passed away. For anyone who has ever lost someone really close to them, a year is not a lot of time. I was still having a really hard time coping with him being gone.
In spite of the fact that my life wasn’t flawless, it was beautiful. I felt miserable, but a level of beauty existed with the misery. Our cracks make us a whole person and allow us to see and recognize beauty. The time I got to spend with my brother while he was ill was beautiful to me. The fact that he mattered, that he had enough impact on my life for me to feel grief, was beautiful.
It’s the combination of the ugliness we have to face and the beauty we can find that helps us see just how great and precious life can be. And it’s easier to see the beauty around you when you actively find ways to put it in your life.
Recognizing and Creating Beauty in Your Life
Finding beauty in life helps make tough times less difficult and make special moments even more meaningful.
I dislike living in Utah. I often think about how much I want to move to another state or country. However, these feelings also often lessen through my appreciation of Utah’s mountains or by enjoying a good bout of snow. I hate sunshine (yeah, sunshine and ice cream … I know what you’re thinking) and therefore summer, but I love flowers, so I surround myself with flowers all summer long to offset my heat-induced angst.
This is such standard advice, but looking for the silver lining in what makes you miserable helps you to see the splendor in the situation and in your life in general.
Similarly, taking the time to really appreciate an already good moment makes it something even more precious and memorable. For example, document moments with a photo. One of my Facebook friends takes a picture of almost every sunset she sees. Not only does she take the time to appreciate the sunsets, but also she shares them.
Writing down information about a precious moment and how you were feeling also helps you remember and embrace it.
Making life beautiful shouldn’t be used as a crutch to avoid feeling a certain emotion or dealing with an issue though. As with anything, it’s a balancing act.
Using Beauty as a Crutch
It’s important to acknowledge feelings that aren’t always beautiful. A lot of terrible things happen, and it’s appropriate and necessary to feel through a wide array of emotions — some of which aren’t always pleasant, like sadness, anger, and discontentment. They all have their place.
Burying an emotion simply because it doesn’t make you smile can keep you from acknowledging and/or working through a problem you’re experiencing. Acknowledging and accepting that you feel a certain way can be liberating in and of itself because it lets you be honest with yourself about your feelings, and that makes it possible to confront the issue.
However, sometimes emotions aren’t necessarily tied to beauty or ugliness. Clinical depression, for example, is real and separate from situational depression and should be treated properly through therapy or through medication (if that’s what a medical professional has recommended), not through willing yourself to be positive. If you struggle with depression or a similar medical issue, part of making life beautiful includes getting the treatment and therapy you deserve.
Life doesn’t always seem beautiful, but I promise that there’s always beauty waiting to be found, especially in life’s imperfections. Embrace your inner Hufflepuff and go find it!