What is beautiful?

It’s a question that stumps everyone from teenagers going through the terrors of puberty to philosophers studying beauty itself. But what is it? Look, I know you don’t really want to sit here and read through a couple pages of condensed history on the question of beauty, seeing example after example of failed definitions for the incredibly elusive meaning of the concept of beauty, so I’ll cut to the chase.

Basically in western society beauty comes down to “a pleasant looking thing.” Would you look at that, it is exactly what you thought it was, we’re done here.

...Not quite. You see there is far more to this idea of “beauty” than what meets the eye. By this I mean that something doesn’t have to look nice to be beautiful.

Let me explain. When we talk about beauty often it’s believed that we are talking about how someone or something looks, but there are many non-physical aspects of a thing that are beautiful for some reason other than “how they look.” Life is beautiful, but very often life is not pretty. When we talk about the beauty of life we are able to see that there is a missing element, if it is not the “how it looks” that makes life so beautiful then what is the missing element?

This is where the opinions become split.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” -Margaret Wolfe Hungerford

You see, it is a common cliché to say that beauty is within an individual and that you decide what is beautiful for yourself, but it’s true.

The missing element in our question of “what makes life beautiful?” is perspective. Think about it, why does there seem to be no correlation between quality of life and happiness? Why can an “ugly” life be a happy life and why can a “pretty” life be an unpleasant one?

People with a positive outlook on life tend to see more beauty in the world because they are viewing the world from a positive mindset, they pick out the amazing things and focus on them while finding the positivity in any negative thing, and vise versa.

So, beauty is based of perspective, so what does that mean to individuals?

First off, it means that you can find beauty anywhere. There is no place on this earth that you could not find beauty as long as you are able to keep the right attitude. Here is a challenge, the next time you are walking down the street, or the next time you are with a large group of people look around you. Watch the small gestures that people do for each other, a head nod, a handshake, someone holding a door or a simple smile. Watch these things, focus on what they mean, real people making real connections. Understand that these little signs of respect, acceptance and love symbolize the potential that our species has for empathy. I promise that if you watch these sorts of interactions with these thoughts in mind they will become far more beautiful than you ever thought possible.

Secondly, this means that worrying about your own “beauty” is pointless. You are beautiful. I don’t have to see your face, I don’t have to know your name, I don’t even have to know that you exist, but I know you are beautiful. Just the plain fact that you might possibly exist somewhere and could just possibly end up reading this little article of mine is enough to know that you are a beautiful person. It is inescapable, because beauty is not something you make, it is something you find. You are beautiful naturally and if someone can not see that then it is their perspective that needs changing, not your image.

So, what is beautiful? Well it’s simple, everything is beautiful, you just need to know how to look at it.