I’ve been rather deep in thought over the past few weeks, and furthering my understanding of the philosophy in which I believe in and naturally seem to live by.
It’s the branch of philosophy which deals with the nature of beauty and artistic taste.
It’s essentially a deep appreciation of beauty.
To live an aesthetic life is to go about life often focused on beauty. It’s creating it in our surrounding and noticing it in our everyday life. It’s being mindful of it, and really appreciating and celebrating it.
It might sound rather hedonistic. And perhaps in ways it is. As objects of beauty involve satisfying the senses - in the direction of pleasure.
But it’s more than endless and often mindless consumption. It’s a sensation. One that aesthetes feel deeply.
“In order to be beautiful, it is not enough for a work of art to offer us delightful colors and lines and sounds;
it must also have a meaning–it must speak to us, tell us something.”
There are theories that living an aesthetic life can energise and lift our spirit. That elements like colour or lighting impact how we feel. That we respond emotionally to our surrounding.
A study was conducted by Semir Reki to prove this.
He presented people from all kinds of cultural, gender and age backgrounds to works of art and music. He found by looking at MRI images of his subject’s brains, that when people look at something beautiful, a portion of their brain “lights up.” There is increased blood flow in that area. It stimulates the feel-good chemical dopamine in their brain. And when presented with something displeasing, it lights up a completely different part of the brain.
Living an aesthetic life can improve our mental health. We see life in a new light. We feel its beauty. And it can transform our world.
It’s perhaps what attributes to the Danes being so happy. They share an appreciation of aesthetics and Denmark is very much a design society.
“Children come to school and interact with quality architecture and furniture, and so from an early age they develop an understanding that functional yet beautiful design is essential to realising the good life.”
– Helen Russell, The Year of Living Danishly
And how the French seem to know how to celebrate each day. Embracing le joie and l’art de vivre. Seeing beauty in their everyday life and feeling joy in the simplest of things.
Living an aesthetic life attributes greatly to my own happiness.
Noticing beauty, surrounding myself in it and creating experiences around beauty can leave me elated. My physical environment influences my state of mind. I feel inspired, optimistic and passionate about life. This appreciation of aesthetics enables the creativity inside me to come out and be shared with others in a way that feels natural and authentic.
And when I’m in a slump of some kind, noticing or bringing beauty into my life can quickly pull me out of it.
Some of the ways that I personally live an aesthetic life are:
Creating beauty in:
My home - one that is organised and flows, and feels welcoming and calm
The foods I eat - making simple daily meals that look beautiful
Gatherings with friends and family - setting an inviting table with ambience
My artistic work - evoking an emotion of intimacy and inspires others to see the beauty of life
Being aware of the beauty in an everyday experience:
My interactions and harmonious conversation with kind and authentic personalities
Sitting in nature observing the details of the environment and feeling a sense of ease
Feeling the welcoming nature of a well designed cafe as I sip a coffee in quiet
Noticing the joy in the faces of my loved ones as we share a simple moment together
There are many more. Beauty abounds us in often the simplest of ways. And essentially this appreciation involves intimacy. A closeness and deep connection to an everyday moment of life. One in which we savour the experience of beauty.
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
– Oscar Wilde