You’re stuffed to the gills with advice on why and how to eat more greens, get more exercise, meditate more (or at all). But how often are you told to get a steady diet of beautiful things? In his recent New York Times article (“Why We Love Beautiful Things”), Lance Hosey explains that certain shapes, patterns, and designs have a positive effect on us that has nothing to do with taste, and that beauty may be in the eye of the genes.
“Certain patterns also have universal appeal. Natural fractals — irregular, self-similar geometry — occur virtually everywhere in nature: in coastlines and riverways, in snowflakes and leaf veins, even in our own lungs. In recent years, physicists have found that people invariably prefer a certain mathematical density of fractals — not too thick, not too sparse.”
I love this because it reminds us that beauty is not just a nice add-on—it has a function and purpose, and that it, too, plays a real role in the quality of our lives, our mental state. You’ve heard the studies done where patients heal faster when they have a view of the outside from bed, and we are drawn to spaces that feel more natural to our senses (rounded curves, meandering paths, greenery).
And the more designers tap into the science of beauty, not only will products be in some ways more appealing and perhaps even healthier for us (think ergonomic chairs), but can improve our lives and moods, too.
“We think of great design as art, not science, a mysterious gift from the gods, not something that results just from diligent and informed study,” Hosey writes. “But if every designer understood more about the mathematics of attraction, the mechanics of affection, all design — from houses to cellphones to offices and cars — could both look good and be good for you.”
This week, decide to pay attention to beauty—and find ways to consume it, just as you would anything that’s good for you. Here are some ideas:
Take in the view. In studies of call centers, Hosey writes, “workers who could see the outdoors completed tasks 6 to 7 percent more efficiently than those who couldn’t, generating an annual savings of nearly $3,000 per employee.” Good enough reason to expose yourself to the elements, whether that means moving your chair or desk or just going outside whenever you get a chance to simply be around and in full view of nature.
Start seeing green. Hosey also cites a study, written up in nbcnews.com, that simply looking at the color green can spark creativity—whether that’s the green of trees and houseplants, or swatches of green. Scientists call it the “green effect” and attribute it to green as not just linked to actual growth (plants) but to psychological growth as well.
Seek out beauty—and stare at it. Make it a priority to put yourself in front of something beautiful this week—natural or manmade. Visit your favorite museum or take in a new exhibit, walk through a garden or your favorite furniture store. Even spending 20 minutes on Pinterest can deliver up loads of eye candy. Every little bit of beauty counts.
Terri Trespicio is a media personality and lifestyle expert. Visit her at territrespicio.com and follow her @territ.