Research Uncovers the Healing Power of Beauty and Awe

Research Uncovers the Healing Power of Beauty and Awe

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Even in times of trouble, realizing the beauty in our lives can bring us to the present moment, heal our minds and bodies, and renew our hope.

While psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl was imprisoned in the Auschwitz death camp, he and other prisoners sat on the ground in their huts, exhausted from the day’s work. Then a prisoner burst in and beckoned them to come out. Even in these dire conditions, men stood in silent awe, experiencing this moment of beauty, deeply moved by a bright sunset (Frankl, 1984).

Now research reveals how beauty can heal us on many levels. University of Michigan psychologist Christopher Peterson and colleagues (2006) found that a high appreciation of beauty anxiety and depression. University of California, Berkeley, psychologist Dacher Keltner and colleagues have found that people who feel awe in response to nature’s beauty have significantly lower levels of inflammation, which reduces their risk of depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other diseases. In fact, their research found that the more often we experience awe, the lower our levels of inflammation (2015).

Psychologist Rhett Diessner’s research has shown that engaging in beauty can increase our sense of hope. Diessner and colleagues at Lewis-Clark State College in Idaho asked students in a developmental psychology class to keep weekly beauty journals, writing short descriptions of the beauty they observed in nature, art, and moral action. At the end of the semester, these students had significantly higher hopes (2006, 2008).

How to appreciate beauty

As research reveals, it is possible to gain more hope by simply observing and appreciating the beauty around us. Here are three steps to help you start this process right now: remembering three beautiful experiences in your life—in nature, art, and moral action.

  1. First, think of something beautiful you experienced in nature that amazes you: a bright sunset, a walk in the woods, smell pine trees, beach scenery, a fun moment with your dog or cat, a new life emerging in your garden or another beautiful encounter with the natural world. Pause to relive that moment of beauty as you breathe in and out slowly.
  2. Next, think of something beautiful you experienced in the arts; your favorite music, an inspiring concert, a live theatrical performance, an unforgettable movie, a visit to an art gallery, appreciating classical sculptures or architecture, or any other beautiful encounter. art. Pause to relive that moment of beauty as you breathe in and out slowly.
  3. Finally, think of something beautiful you experienced in a moral act, an act of kindness; Seeing one person reaching out to help another, doing a favor, holding the door open for someone carrying a parcel, helping a child learn to read, saving a child. A lost pet, calling a friend, a time you gave, received, or witnessed an act of kindness. Pause to relive that moment of beauty as you breathe in and out slowly.

Take care to notice the natural, artistic and moral beauty in your days. This means consciously increasing your awareness. Because, as research has shown, by appreciating the beauty around you more, you can be more hopeful, better solve current problems, and create new possibilities in your life.

“Every moment of the year has its own beauty,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson (1903, p. 18).

Every season, every day of our lives has its own beauties. It’s up to each of us to get to know him.

This post is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute. psychotherapy with a qualified professional.

© 2023 Diane Dreher, All Rights Reserved.

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