According to creative information sharing platform Felt Magnet “surrounding yourself with beautiful things brings you happiness”.
At first thought, this could be construed as a little superficial and even materialistic. However, as ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, the idea can actually be seen as a form of self-actualisation. By understanding what particular things bring us joy as individuals (what things move us) and by learning more about ourselves, and how we perceive the world around us, we can find out how to pursue fulfilment.
Psychology Today states that an aesthetic experience (the focusing of attention on a particular object) can positively affect us and make us feel happier, because “the aesthetic experience provides an escape from everyday practical experiences.”. There is also evidence shown in studies of visual arts activities by Paintings in Hospitals that engaging in them can “reduce levels of depression and anxiety; increase self-respect, self-worth and self-esteem”.
We can find beauty in the most unlikely of places, even being able to enjoy negative emotions in art. For example, some people love a sad song, or a scary movie. This is professed to be due to the emotional impact of the art being reduced by the psychological distance of the viewer. Because we know that the film or image isn’t real, it allows us to experience those negative emotions in a safe space, and it can be cathartic.
Our individual aesthetic judgement determines what each of us considers ‘beautiful’; with familiarity, emotional involvement, and our own environments, experiences and upbringing helping to shape our personal tastes.
When we identify what cheers us, we can seek to expose ourselves to more of those things in order to generate positive feelings. An effective and accessible way of doing this is to decorate our homes in ways which we find attractive.
Choosing to adorn our homes with colours, patterns, and artwork which we love surrounds us with our own perception of beauty and gives us access to tools which help the release of dopamine, our brain’s feel-good chemical. As Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. says, “aesthetic experiences can arise from the appreciation of artworks”, and such pleasures also last longer than the gratification we get from physical experiences, like eating or drinking.
A 2022 article by Robin Benve entitled 7 Ways Art Improves Quality of Life suggests three useful ways of taking the time to notice what makes you happy, and to work out your own personal aesthetic:
1. Collect images (from magazines or online platforms like Pinterest) that interest or please you in some way.
2. Fill a box with small objects that make you feel the same way.
3. Look for the commonalities in your collected images and objects. What do they have in common - colour, texture, subject, or design? This will help give you an idea of why you like them so much, and what it is that you truly find ’beautiful’.
Try taking a browse through our online gallery and see which images inspire, energise, or comfort you.
You can look through our categories of sculpture, original art, or limited edition prints, and see what jumps out at you. Maybe even build up a collection of your favourite pieces on Pinterest to refer back to.
What do you notice about the ones you have identified, and what do you like about them? Are they all wildlife-themed? Do they all feature pets? Are they all landscapes? Do they all have a similar colour palette? Perhaps you like the style of a particular artist. Once you’ve established what you like, you may want to look for more images of a similar ilk.
The best reason to buy a piece of art is because it brings you joy, so if there’s a painting or print that you love, you may even want to consider treating yourself...or putting it on your Christmas wish list!