I have a strange knack when traveling for falling in love with the areas I visit and imagining what it would be like to uproot my family and move there. Once, on a trip to Maryland for a wedding before I was married, I was absolutely smitten with how beautiful it was. To be fair, it was early summer, but I thought I just had to live there.
I have faced similar temptations to move while visiting New York City, Chicago, Florida, California, and Minnesota, again during the summer.
While I was at my daughter’s soccer practice, this character trait came to mind when I was distracted by the gorgeous view of a flock of birds taking flight into the blue sky above the green trees while speckles of orange from the sunset danced about the scenery. At that moment, all was still. The only thing in my mind was the beauty I was experiencing as a mixture of awe and gratitude welled inside me.
I realized two things. First, I recalled how much I loved living in North Georgia. Then I realized how much beauty affects me in that I was firmly planted in the present moment throughout the beautiful experience. We should all be fighting to stay in the present moment.
Several years ago, I read about a practice that professionals suggested to those struggling with anxiety called “grounding yourself.” You do this when experiencing anxiety by noticing five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This grounding technique is designed to get you outside your head and firmly rooted in the present moment.
Essentially, this happens to us when we are in the presence of something we find beautiful. Beauty can keep us from overthinking and help us stay in the present moment. Beauty can help us fight anxiety.
The question may arise about what to do if you are at home, at work, or in class and unable to experience something beautiful. Sometimes we will not be able to experience beauty in the present, but we can still recall the beauty we have experienced. It may not ground us in the present moment, but it brings beautiful past experiences to the present.
Recalling past beauty also fills our minds to keep anxious thoughts out. What’s more is beauty can be found in more than pretty scenery or nice music. We can experience beauty in friendships, good business deals, a significant other, or simply having a good day. In recalling such things and appreciating them, we can see the good in our lives and overcome our anxious thoughts with good thoughts.
This brings to mind a quote I once read from Esther Houston, who said, “Disrupt all of your anxiety with gratitude.” It’s unfortunate that your mind can be your enemy at times, but you are able to recall the good and beautiful moments from your life, appreciate them, and allow them to fill your mind with beauty.
Humanity has been struggling with anxiety for a long time. It is not a new issue that has only developed recently. Even in Biblical times, people needed to be helped with anxious thoughts. Why else would they be reminded so often to “Be not afraid”? Furthermore, St. Paul in Thessalonians 4:6 recommended to his readers, “Have no anxiety at all!”
While anxiety is not an abnormal experience of life, we still do not need to let anxiety take over our lives. That is why we should fight against it with beauty. Here are a few steps you can take to do exactly that.
- Find beauty in the present moment.
Do this by finding something beautiful right here and now. Whether it is a beautiful song, awe-inspiring scenery, grasping the complexity of an interesting subject, standing in amazement over some incredible achievement of yourself or others, or even the simple joy of a good conversation, every moment has something beautiful in it. Train your mind to seek out these beautiful things, especially when you first start to feel anxious.
- Fill your mind with the beauty of past experiences.
If you are struggling to find something beautiful in the now, recall an experience of beauty. Remember what you thought and felt. Did it inspire you to do something? Or you can simply let whatever it was fill your mind to keep the anxious thoughts at bay.
- Be grateful.
You can help calm your worries by appreciating your life’s beauty and goodness. If you use your time and power to appreciate these things, your fears will be overcome. You will also see that bad things do not always happen in your life, which will help you grow in the hope of seeing more beauty and goodness.
- Seek the beauty of God in prayer.
God has overwhelmed me with beauty in prayer. This is more than saying what is on our minds and hearts to Him. Sit with the Lord. Remember that He is with you. Have this understanding in your mind and rest with Him. Believe that He will move in your life, and you will soon see Him move in you.
Prayer is beautiful. It is a magnificent dance with the Lord in which He builds you up and leads you to become what you seek to be. Happy. Anxiety is the enemy of happiness, so seeking the beauty of the Lord in prayer is an excellent antidote to anxiety.
Taking these steps is a great way to battle against anxiety. It is good to remember that this can be a slow process, and the steps may need to be repeated. However, I believe that these great tools of encountering beauty will tremendously help diminish anxious thoughts.