Here’s A Thought: Consider Small Aesthetic Decisions

We’re a visual species.

While you and I may look at a Jackson Pollock, van Gogh or Picasso and have wildly different visceral responses (personally: cool, love it, meh) – everyone gravitates toward particular aesthetics – there is no mistaking that we will have some reaction. Ambivalence. Admiration. Curiosity. Disgust.

Beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder.

Musée de l’Orangerie | An unexpected highlight in Paris

One of the perks of forging ahead into adulthood is honing in on, and exploiting, our natural aesthetic preferences. We no longer have to live with the brown shag carpeting of our youth – though give it enough time and that particular design preference is sure to come back. Exhibit A: Wallpaper.

We put time and effort into considering these sorts of decisions on the large scale: exterior landscaping for our new home, the colour of our living room walls or vehicle, the perfect wedding dress. Significant resources (time and financial) are invested in curating a particular aesthetic in our clothes, hair, and makeup choices.

But I’d argue that much smaller, seemingly mundane, decisions can have a big impact too.

When I invested in electric toothbrushes for our family I made a small splurge, spending an additional $9.99 to get the delicate pink version for myself. It’s a subtle colour, but really does make me happy every time I use my toothbrush (and helps me avoid using my husband’s by accident). Two years later, that $9.99 has bought me a disproportionate amount of daily happiness. Even the knowledge that I spent extra money helps elevate the experience, in essence saying: “You were worth it.” That’s pretty weighty stuff to get from a Philips Sonicare.

The ability to improve aesthetics (and by improve, I simply mean enhancing your personal satisfaction) is often quite easy. When I got a new smartphone last year, the selection of a pretty floral case on Amazon took less than a minute longer than tracking down a plain black case. Maybe you’d prefer the sleek look of a low-profile black case; go ahead and embrace that choice and refuse to settle for the hand-me-down neon green Otterbox. If the epitome of your aesthetic ideal is a house filled with white: walls, furniture, clothing, and dishes, by all means indulge (unless of course you have small children, in which case this would be insanity)!

Think about things you’re going to see/handle frequently. A phone case, wine glasses, travel mug, dinner plates, the Sharpie’s you use on your desk calendar, a laptop cover, a diaper bag. I often buy candles that come in a nice votive over their plainer cousins on the shelf.

Life is short and, in general, abundantly more fulfilling when we are able to notice the beauty around us. Stopping to smell the roses is great. So plant some on your back doorstep. Add a pop of colour to your sofa with a quirky throw pillow, hunt for a duvet cover you actually like, and order the whimsical pens you’ve been admiring. Some other ideas for aesthetic exploration:

  • Calendars (wall, desk)
  • Socks, pajamas and other clothing that might never be seen outside your home
  • A fun shower cap, towel, or colourful loofah for the shower
  • Pretty measuring cups (I have a set in bright, primary colours) and measuring spoons (hand-painted pottery from Ten Thousand Villages; they make me smile every time).

And, if you’re even on the hunt for an electric toothbrush, may I suggest considering a colour other than white?

Go ahead. Try it.

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