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|Thoughts on Helping Out ~ Seek Beauty||<< Prev | Entry 3 of 10 | Next >> |
When you look at your neighbors, what do you see? Do you see the good and beautiful, or can you not get beyond the flaws? Seeking beauty involves an active quest to recognize the world’s good and beautiful. It is a mindset – not of ignoring the bad and ugly but instead of acknowledging and exposing the good. Though an uncomplicated concept, here’s how I think seeking beauty can change our world:
By acknowledging beauty in others, respect is developed and trust formed. Communication and collaboration follow. As disparate human beings and nations come into contact with ever-increasing frequency, it’s critical for them to recognize the good in each another. Before one can criticize another, it’s important (perhaps even necessary) to recognize and acknowledge positive attributes and behaviors. It’s equally important that the acknowledged “good and beautiful” be genuine and real. If I am to gain from constructive criticism you provide, I need to know that you see my positive traits. If I sense that you don’t understand my positive qualities, I’m less likely to truly accept your advice. In fact, if you don’t know me well enough to see the good, it’s less likely that your feedback is even valid. I wonder sometimes how well the United States has done this in regard to the Middle East. Do we understand Islam well enough to recognize anything good about it? We need to see the good in one other (which implies that we know each other well) before we start offering extensive advice. It’s the surest way to build respect and trust as we interact in an increasingly complex world.
Seeking beauty enables us to bring out the best in each other. Most of us strive to meet the expectations of others. We humans generally don’t like to let people down. Thus, by acknowledging the beauty in others, we encourage them to rise up and meet the expectations set. We raise the bar. If I see and acknowledge your effective communication skills, you’re likely to continue working to communicate well. If I recognize and acknowledge your humility, you’re unlikely to turn around and tell your buddy you've never met anyone as humble as yourself. As a general rule, the act of acknowledging goodness in others will in fact work to bring that goodness out.
By actively seeking beauty, you become more aware and appreciative of all that makes life worth living. The scent of a rose is only beautiful if you pause to take it in. What’s more, if you actively seek beauty in all that surrounds you, beauty will be found in unlikely places – and your political and behavioral decisions will soon reflect those pleasant discoveries. If you don’t recognize the beauty of Tibetan culture, for example, you’re unlikely to work toward preventing its decimation. Having seen its beauty, you know its value. And you will take the steps necessary to keep it alive.
Seeking beauty in others fosters an attitude; it encourages optimism. Those who actively seek beauty become more beautiful themselves. When you see genuine goodness in others, you begin to (where possible) appropriate similar behaviors and traits. People who recognize beauty are fun to be with. They’re excited about life. They discover hidden novelties and appreciate the richness of our world.
Certainly there are aspects of life that lack beauty. There is evil and ugliness in our world that cannot be ignored. Yet there is also beauty at every turn – even in the most primitive, impoverished lands. If I cannot find beauty in others, it says as much about me as it does the people I assess. I believe it is rare that there isn’t something of genuine beauty and value to be found in another human being. Seeing beauty can at times be easy and natural. At other times, it takes effort and exploration. With fellow humans we must learn to look beyond the physical; beneath the surface there is always something beautiful to be found. (If you cannot see it, find something approaching beauty and begin there - and see if your counterpart doesn't work to turn it into a truly positive trait.) Appearances are often difficult to change, but attitudes and behaviors we generally control.
Acknowledge the beauty in others. Work at it where necessary. In so doing, you’ll enjoy the richness of life and bring out the good in both others and yourself.