Did you know that there are studies that show that patients who have a window with a view heal more quickly than those without? And that art and music scratch the same part of our brains that make us more efficient at math and complex equations? Beyond these testaments to the power of beauty, there’s our own experiences of quiet, still moments soaking in something beautiful that hint at something more, something transcendent and bigger than us.
Recently, I discovered I needed to create more space in my life for things completely different than the post-it notes and iPhone alarms cluttering my days. As a type-A person — often consumed by list-making, time management techniques, and a competitive streak — the hustle of everyday life was winding me a bit too tight. I realized I needed to balance my overly-productive tendencies with something entirely counter — slow, intentional moments of beauty.
As I began a regular practice of taking a few moments each day to stop, slow down, and stay with something beautiful, I fed a part of myself that no amount of work or productivity could nourish. I opened a space where I could feel God shining through — and brought some much-needed balance back to my days.
If you’re interested in making space for beauty in your daily schedule, here are a few easy places to start.
Slow down your afternoon with a cup of tea
Instead of my regular 3 o’clock coffee, I’ve been making tea. I don’t mean I just put a cup of water in the microwave. I work from home, so I actually put a kettle on the stove and stand there while I wait for the water to boil. I can hear the water inside start to dance, until the lid begins to jiggle. It doesn’t take long, maybe 3–4 minutes, but this ritual has become mediation for me — which is great because I have a hard time actually meditating. I try to use my prettiest cup and have even bought a package of cookies to take one with my tea, like a real Brit.
I’ve noticed making this effort, to slow down, to make something beautiful, to inhale my tea as it seeps, gives me more energy later. In that tea moment, which takes less time than it would for me to walk down to Starbucks for a latte, I find presence in myself and am quiet enough to sense God’s presence.
Try sitting with art, instead of mindless scrolling
A friend of mine recently turned me on to the Daily Art app. Each day at lunch, I receive a notification that “Today’s Masterpiece” is ready for viewing. (You can set the notification to another time. Lunch just works for me.) Instead of scrolling my feed while I eat, I spend a minute reading the description and then a few more minutes viewing the artwork.
I notice I feel less anxious if I spend my lunch with one of Van Gogh’s self-portraits or Rodin’s Burghers of Calais instead of my social media feed. I have learned about artists I did not know existed before this practice. And there have been a few times when I am having lunch with a friend, that I share the moment with them too. They always say they feel more cultured after I read them the description and we pass my phone back and forth to view the art.
Take a moment to notice the good around you
My absolute favorite way to make space for beauty is people watching. You’d be surprised how many uplifting and beautiful encounters you catch when you’re watching those around you, whether it’s at the park, on a walk, the grocery store, a coffee shop, or outside your own window. I love to watch how complete strangers will interact in a kind, even loving, way with each other.
Last week while stuck at a stop light, I saw an older woman’s grocery bag break open at a bus stop. The other people waiting for the bus ran in different directions going after apples and cans of soup. As I drove away, I even watched two people, who had been slouched on the bench beforehand, help refashion the old woman’s windbreaker into a makeshift bag to carry the groceries in. I couldn’t help but think I witnessed a holy little moment.
It doesn’t take much to bring some beauty into our busy days — but it does require intention. When we purposefully make time in our schedules to appreciate the good and beautiful things, we fill our cups — in a way that an extra cup of coffee never could.