Who of us has not been captivated by a beautiful sunset, the roar of ocean waves breaking upon the shore, or the majesty of a mountain? Beauty is hard to define, as it takes many shapes and forms, but we certainly know the feeling we receive from viewing it. This is why, for example, we have museums devoted to fine art and sculpture. Beautiful art is for appreciation. The same can be said of seeing a beautiful woman, a handsome man, or a charming child. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Beauty without expression tires.” Thus we, as if by instinct, are forced to utter, “How beautiful!”
What about the people we come into contact with? Do they extract from us the same feelings, the tingle in our hearts that draws out such expression? How do you feel when a stranger smiles at you or offers you words of sincere appreciation? These and many other acts are gestures from the art of the heart. By understanding the simple things you can do, you can make your life a work of art.
When you frame others in their best light, they will also do that for you. But, even if they don’t, the secret joy of giving, sharing, and appreciating is an art form of its own. Here are a few things you can do to make your life a work of art and allow your inner beauty to shine. Remember, when you allow others to feel good, they will feel good about you. Ask and listen for a person’s name, and then use it; a person’s name is one of the sweetest sounds to their ears. Show a genuine interest in others by drawing them out. Be curious about their life experiences. As you do, allow them to shine.
Listen when people speak and make eye contact with them, but don’t stare. How long should eye contact be held? Generally, as long as it takes you to register the color of their eyes. If the saying is true that “eyes are the windows of the soul,” then the light in their eyes is a direct reflection of the fire in their hearts. Eye contact warms both parties. When we get out of our own way and do not try to impress others, but are impressed, our beauty shines.
We hear with the ears, but we listen with the heart.
There’s an art to conversation; there’s an art to social encounters; there’s an art to bringing out the best in others, and when we’re skilled at it, our lives become works of art. By making people feel beautiful, by allowing them to find the ways they shine, we make the whole world a little bit brighter.
Certainly, none of us are perfect: all of us have flaws. Maybe we have bad habits or undesirable temperaments, or perhaps we’re overly body-conscious or believe we are unattractive, or … I’m sure we can all fill in the blanks. Yet that shouldn’t stop us from doing our best to bring out others’ beauty. I personally take the attitude that I’m always under construction and will forever be chipping away the attitudes and behaviors that no longer serve me. When they asked Michelangelo how he made his statue of David, he is reported to have said, “It is easy. You just chip away the stone that doesn’t look like David.”
Having now the proper social tools, let us all make our lives works of art!
Reflections from Turtle Lake.