How To Seek A Tiny Bit Of Beauty Right Now


Heather Caliri -Beauty Seeker4

Almost once a month in my twenties, I’d have a sickening crying jag, where my self-worth plunged into the toilet. If I’d been given a wish back then, I would have crumpled myself up like dirty Kleenex and demanded God start over.

I want to be someone else, I’d think.

I couldn’t have even told you why. Or what kind of changes I needed. All I knew was that I felt horrid and beyond repair. Despair was the only logical choice.

Over a few years, my despair disappeared.

If you’re well and truly stuck, if you assume wholeness, bravery, and joy are for other people, I get it.

But we don’t have to stay there. A life filled with a tiny but real bit of beauty is available to you right now, exactly how you are. And it doesn’t take a ton of effort, bravery, or know-how to get there.

Here’s what to do:

1. Think of one thing that gives you joy and makes you come alive. For me, writing filled me with joy and a sense of really living my life. For you it might be music, or art, or public speaking, or some goal you wish you were strong enough to move towards.

If you have a hard time imagining what this is, think back to your childhood. What kinds of play did you enjoy? What did you do when no one else was around? Or, that old platitude, what would you do if money was no object?

Don’t worry about how you’ll do this thing. Just worry about the alive part.

2. Write down five ways to do that thing. Then pick one. After my youngest daughter was born, I decided to start writing again after months of avoiding writing. I felt horribly depressed by how much time had passed, and pessimistic about keeping up with any creative pursuit. So I committed to writing only 15 minutes, once a week. I decided I’d write absolute drivel with no thought of publishing it. Basically, it was glorified typing practice.

That miniscule goal changed everything. I think a similar goal can change you too.

Just brainstorm ideas. You won’t commit to all of them, but if you were to spend just a few minutes doing that thing, how would it work? If you wanted to do public speaking, you could create a short, extemporaneous YouTube talk. If you like art, you could do a weekly sketch. If you like music, you could practice for 15 minutes. Just dip your toe into the thing you love.

Once you have five ideas, pick the one that sounds like the most fun.

3. Choose a day and time you’ll do it. Be realistic. For many of us, even 15 minutes is hard. Make the time commitment so easy you think, Even I can do that.

Be savvy, too. If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably forget unless you’ve written it down, tattooed it on your arm, and told three friends to hold you accountable. And even then you’ll procrastinate.

So set some reminders on your phone, put up post-it notes where you’ll see them, and go tell that friend. Set yourself up for success.

4. Expect some Resistance. You would not believe how hard it was to make myself sit down and type for 15 stinking minutes. Despite how much I like writing, it felt like hell.

Except for afterwards. Then I felt amazed how I’d kept my promise to myself.

Doing the stuff you love does not feel good at first. It feels lame and unproductive and pointless and embarrassing. So don’t expect butterflies and rainbows and gold stars right away. Tell yourself you want to feel alive, not comfortable. Then set a timer and do your best.

Pay attention to what happens when you follow through and actually try. Pay attention to the moment where you get into the flow of the activity and remember why you like it.

If you feel it, it actually is tremendously good news. Resistance puts you in the same room with every artist and creative person on earth. Congratulate yourself on joining that club.

5. Stick with your goal for a few months. Then reevaluate. It’s funny—when we set goals to live on purpose, it changes us. Lo and behold, we need new goals.

Decide how long you’ll stick with your tiny goal. It needs to be long enough that it feels like it counts—a few weeks probably won’t cut it. But after a while, that really hard thing will start feeling like second nature. That’s when it’s time to reevaluate and choose a slightly harder and more joyful thing to do.

Here’s what happened to my 15 minutes, once a week goal: within the first month, I started writing more than once a week. And after a few months, I realized what I really wanted to do was start an author’s blog. And I realized that I trusted myself enough to do it.

I learned to trust myself 15 minutes at a time.

I don’t know what doors in your heart will open with seeking beauty for 15 minutes a week. But I think something will happen. It will make your insides shivery and tender and hopeful. It will make you just the tiniest bit braver. It will remind you of more stuff you love to do—and make you hungrier to do it.

Despair is awful because it has so little imagination. It cannot conceive of alternatives or better outcomes. But God has created us with creative sparks—so despair truly runs counter to our nature.

Our insides are made for beauty. Seeking a tiny ounce of loveliness reaps dividends well beyond our piddling investment.

A life of beauty is not about huge, wholesale change only possible for the most brilliant people. No: it’s about choosing to seek whatever amount of beauty we’re capable of over and over and over. It doesn’t need to be fancy or impressive or even that hard. It requires just a speck of faithfulness and an ounce of planning.

Beauty comes light-fingered and wily to transform your despair. It sneaks in on the back of delight and grows in the poorest soil. It’s a speck of yeast whose contamination yields a delicious, wholesome loaf. It’s beyond you. It’s in front of you.

It’s well within our reach.