Beauty Is Not Just In The Eye Of The Beholder, It's In The Mind.

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For thousands of years, writers, philosophers and theologians have waxed poetic about Beauty. It is a staple in numerous paradigms and remains an inexhaustible topic within human thought and art. Human beings' love affair with beauty probably began the moment we looked up into the heavens and felt awe at such an amazing sight. Perhaps that is how the idea of beauty started.

With all we know about beauty, why is it that there is so much we don't know? How do we perceive beauty and why do we consider some things more beautiful than others? I was watching a feature on Discovery Channel once that sought to explain what the psychological parameters are for human beings to perceive beauty. Tests show that humans find beauty in symmetry and proportion. When the faces of famous people were analyzed, scientists found that we are attracted to the faces that feature symmetry. Take for example public figures like Aishwarya Rai, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Gong Li, Scarlett Johansen or Ryan Reynolds. We find these celebrities appealing because their beautiful faces are exemplars of proportion.

The idea of beauty as symmetry has been around for millennia. The Ancient Greek philosophers were the first to propose this concept and, to this day, their contribution lives on in how beautiful things are made and appreciated.

However, there are other elements that people add that make up their understanding of the beautiful. Cultural, moral, and personal tastes come into play.

The philosopher, Kant, proposed that beauty is a matter of taste. This lends credence to the belief that a beautiful person, to us, is even more beautiful if the whole package is also appealing. Or that there are different standards of beauty in every culture, even sub-cultures.

Not only do we perceive beauty in beautiful people, we also measure beauty in things, nature, events, and so many other things that make human life what it is.

Conversely, psychologists have confirmed what humans have instinctively known throughout history: beauty has an effect on humans. For one thing, beauty stimulates us to create even more beautiful things. In recent years, theologians have articulated the idea that beauty doesn't leave us indifferent. When we see something beautiful, we are moved to act - whether it is to appreciate the beautiful thing or wanting to own it. In contrast, when we see an ugly thing, we are moved to make things beautiful.

The psychological impact of beauty runs a gamut of emotions and expressions. Let me tell you a short story about the Japanese. For the Japanese, beauty can be found even in ritual ceremonies. The Zen Buddhists in Japan believe that the tea ceremony, a beautiful, flowing ritual for the Japanese, is a beautiful thing. What the tea ceremony provides is a form of relaxation. The tea ceremony's beauty and simplicity provides the Japanese with a sense of peaceful joy that translates to the different ways this intriguing people live their lives, go about their day, decorate their homes and, even, perform religious rituals. In the modern world, the pursuit of beauty gives us a hint into another of its psychological benefits.

When one feels beautiful, one fills the self with self-esteem and confidence to face daily life with courage. Take note, the idea is to feel beautiful. Women take so much time to beautify their appearance (I count myself as one of those that do!) However, if you ask any woman why they do what they do, they will usually reply that they make themselves beautiful to give themselves a boost emotionally and psychologically.

One thing I've found through much of my readings about beauty is this - when someone has experienced or seen much ugliness in life, beauty - the compassion of another, a thoughtful gift, absorbing works of art, listening to music, a pleasantly designed room, immersing in ritual - could be that one thing that could actually change their perspective and help them live their own lives filled with beauty.


1.)"Beauty." 2.)Charles Feng. "Looking Good: The Psychology and Biology of Beauty." Article online at


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