Finding beauty in everyday life -- an excerpt from my book

Monday, December 18, 2017

Thank you to those who have bought a copy of my book Help for Depression, and for your kind support. Today I thought I'd post an excerpt from the beginning of Chapter 5, Finding Beauty in Everyday Life. I think the information in this chapter can be helpful to anyone, whether or not they suffer from depression.

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Beauty will save the world. ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

I write a blog entitled The Beautiful Matters. The beautiful does matter. Beauty is healing. Something in our spirit is drawn toward beauty and responds to beauty.

Who hasn’t experienced powerful feelings of joy and wonder at seeing something truly beautiful? A gorgeous sunset, the sky shot through with brilliant hues of purple, rose, and gold, or a vista of rolling hills covered in trees clothed in autumn’s splendid colors, or an expanse of water sparkling with thousands of brilliant diamonds in the sun. The sight of a baby contentedly asleep, the thrill of those first notes of a well-loved symphony, or the humbler pleasures of a pan of lovely homemade cinnamon rolls coming out of the oven.


We all crave beauty. We long for it. It has the power to heal the brokenness in us, and the capacity for restoring us.

We must make a conscious effort to seek out beauty in our lives, to claim it as our birthright, to fill our lives with it. We must shun the ugly, the tacky, the garish as much as we possibly can.

And when I speak of beauty, I’m not talking about the superficial images we are indoctrinated with in our culture. That make us feel defeated and unworthy instead of lifting us up. The airbrushed supermodels, the Pinterest- and Instagram-perfect pictures hinting at a life we can never hope to achieve. The beautifully decorated homes featured in the magazines and sponsored on the big and flashy blogs.

I’m talking about beauty that is true and good and real. There is more beauty in the lines on my friends’ faces, lines that speak of lives of sacrifice and suffering, as well as laughter and hope, than any modern nipped and tucked versions of beauty.

Some of my beautiful book club friends, showing off our Christmas slippers,
 a gift from one of our  members.

There is more beauty in a humble home with a welcome heart for those who are hurting, than one in which everything is carefully curated and styled.

So while this chapter includes practical ideas for including beauty in our lives, we have to remember the larger picture. Suffering can make us beautiful when it gives us a larger heart in which to experience life and empathize with others. Brokenness can be beautiful when it leads us on the path toward wholeness and truth. This is how beauty saves.

This kind of beauty is real. It is deep. But we don’t scorn the smaller things that point us to this larger truth. Things as simple as a beautiful bone china cup for our tea or a single lovely flower on our kitchen table.

Creating beauty in your life or experiencing beauty doesn’t have to be expensive or require a lot of work. Just the recognition of its importance is a good first step.

The very best place to start is outside, in nature. You may live in a city apartment or in an area with not much natural beauty, but it is there if you look for it. The sky is over all of us, and if you make a habit of just looking up and studying light and clouds, sunset and moonlight, you will absorb some of its healing power.

Even if all you can manage to do is to make a cup of coffee and sit on a balcony or on a deck and look at some trees and listen to the birds you will be opening yourself up to beauty. Close your eyes and listen to the birds. Feel the sun and the breeze on your face. Smell the freshly mown grass. Watch the shadows of the leaves moving against the sky.

You will gradually start to feel a peace, a quietness, in your soul. And even if you don’t, even if the depression and heaviness don’t seem to lift, know that the beauty around you is not being wasted. It is influencing you and touching you with its healing power even if you’re not aware of it.

Try to do this every day.

When you have a little more energy or are feeling a little better, look around your environment and think of ways that you can introduce beauty into your home or living space. We can observe the natural beauty around us, free to those who have eyes to see, but we can also create beauty.

In this chapter, I share some practical steps for creating beauty in your life. I realize that some of these suggestions may sound shallow or insensitive. Tell someone who is overcome with depression and anxiety, who can barely get out of bed in the morning, who is craving a drink to help numb the anxiety that is pounding in their chest, tell them that they’ll feel better if they clean out their closet or drink tea out of a china cup?

Yes, I’m actually recommending that. We don’t want to despise the small things. They have more power than you think.

Small things can make us smile.

And listen, your depression isn’t going to magically go away today or tomorrow. Even if you’re taking medication and going regularly to therapy, even if you are exercising and eating right, it will take some time. In the meantime, what can you do right now, today, to inject some beauty into your day? Because beauty also brings hope.

I used the days when I was feeling good to implement some of the suggestions in this chapter. Then I could be sure of having beauty around me when the dark days came.

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Okay, so this was a shameless promo. If you'd like to order a copy of this book, Help for Depression, click on the picture at the right top of my sidebar. A Kindle version will be available on December 22.

This winter, I'm going to be writing my next book, simply entitled The Beautiful Matters, which will expand on this whole topic.

Thank you again, and don't forget to enjoy the beauty around you as you are busily preparing for the Christmas weekend. 

xo

14 comments :

  1. Oh, Deborah, you have shared everything that I could have shared. Except the depression. I make it a habit every day to look for beauty in my surroundings. I am a home body and because of certain physical limitations, I am confined to home much of the time but finding beauty in the smallest thing, like sparkles off an ornament on the tree when the sun hits it, gives me joy! I love to hear the laughter of my grandchildren because I feel like a minuscule part of me within them is finding joy in something. This is a much needed post for anyone going through the struggle of depression or simply reminding each one of us that the beautiful does indeed matter. Merry Christmas, my lovely friend!

    Blessings and hugs,
    Sandi

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  2. I am so excited about the book. I want to get the Kindle version so I'm happy it will be available soon. You're a wonderful writer and so many times you are able to express things in a way I wish I could. I know the writing must be very rewarding to you! Holiday hugs, Diane

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  3. Wise words, Deborah, and you have such a gift for writing.

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  4. Way back in 1994 I had a little online thing called I Love Beauty and posted to friends in a chat room about the beauty in things big and small. I have been blessed to not suffer with depression but do believe that seeing beauty around oneself can help draw one out of the darkness.

    Best of luck with your book! Merry Christmas and God bless- xo Diana

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  5. I so agree more with you, Deborah, on natural beauty and a comfortable home! I don't suffer from depression, but I have several family members who do (my dad also did, which I remember vividly). We walk almost every single day, and it is that free gift of observing beauty in the smallest things that I am so grateful for. Merry Christmas to you, and kudos on the start of a new book!

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  6. I loved reading the excerpt from your book, and yes, finding the beauty is so important in our lives, whether it be through people or everyday things. Although I don't suffer from depression, I am looking forward to reading your book, and excited that you'll be writing another. Merry Christmas to you, Deborah, and best of luck with your book and the one to come.

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  7. Very thoughtfully and well written, Deborah. I wish you much success with your book; it will surely help others, and that is a great gift to give. Merry Christmas to you!

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  8. Dearest Deborah,
    You write so naturally and so flowing... No, happiness and beauty is not like the things that are being shown on TV commercials or in Magazine adds.
    You are so right about the importance of little things and seeing the beauty of lines in someone's face. That is telling a true story of a life lived through ups and downs.
    Once we're in a valley, we all have to find a way for getting out of it again.
    Writing is also a great therapy; it has helped me a lot!
    It is distracting you from negative thoughts and it lifts you up and when shared with others it becomes a magical thing.
    When I was so distraught about Pieter's health, I started to write those series about our trip to South Africa where Pieter lectured at a Congress and where we consulted several mushroom farms in return for their generosity of paying our trip and stay!
    It is a gift that keeps rotating goodness, for reliving it even after 32 years and it literally lifted up my spirit.
    So go girl and write that next book; you have proven that you can do it!
    Love the clickable button at the top right on your blog here!
    Hugs and enjoy these last days of Advent and reaching once again Christmas.
    This will be your first Christmas season as an AUTHOR!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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  9. Hello Deborah~ I so enjoyed this chapter in your book because I believed it was well written for anyone, wether suffering from depression or not.
    It is so true, there is beauty in everything if we are willing to see the beauty. I find while sitting and relaxing in my home a time of reflecting on the many beautiful items, photos and decorating that surrounds me; and I'm grateful for it all, but as I take my daily walks, it is there that I am surrounded with beauty, even on dreary days. Right now we haven't had much snow and the blades of wheat grass that haven't yet been covered with snow are gorgeous. We don't usually see that as we are covered with lots of snow by now.
    I was thrilled to see that you are going to write another book, good for you!
    You have certainly proved yourself to be an excellent author.
    And yes, I'm the R Harris ;) long story.

    Enjoy these days ahead as we prepare for the coming of our Savior.

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  10. Deborah, I enjoyed that so much! I'm sure your book is going to help a lot of people. I understand depression is extremely difficult to handle, but your practical suggestions and encouragement are sure to help.

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  11. what a beautiful post :) this is going to be healing and helpful for many out there :)

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  12. I've ordered your book, but it will be delivered after Christmas (hopefully, before the new year). To meet the minimum amount for free shipping, I ended up adding two items to the book order: A Beauty and the Beast tea set and collection pack of 5 figures...and yes, these toys are for me. Hee! So I'm off to good start with finding beauty!

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  13. Thank you for sharing this wonderful truth, and shouting it from the rooftops! It's so important. Often people think beauty is just a stagnant quality, that it doesn't DO anything in our lives. It is healing, and it's important.

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  14. this is a beautiful chapter from your book. The next one sounds amazing too.

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