Feeling a little blue or need a creative lift? Try taking in the Fall colors, or stroll through your favorite museum. It’s no surprise that beauty has a positive effect on us, but can it really make you happy? The answer is yes. But don’t take my word for it. Consider for a moment the dollars that pass through Sotheby’s or what one is willing to pay for any aesthetically pleasing item, and you will begin to realize that what we are trying to do quite literally, is buy happiness. We value beautiful things precisely for their ability to make us feel good. This is true in architecture and housing as well as art and nature. We recognize a thing of beauty because of the way it makes us feel.
Research has shown that looking at art causes the pleasure and reward centers of the brain to be activated. The more an individual likes the art they are viewing the greater the response. I have no external research to confirm this, but my own experience tells me that it is the same whether you are gazing out at rolling hues of green hills in the East, or the shifting shades of blue between sky, mountains, and islands that we see here in the Northwest. It’s also why we pay our athletes and actors so well. They bring us the beauty in both form and movement that we long for.
Ironically in spite of the fact that we love to purchase beautiful things and are willing to pay for them, it is not the buying or even owning that makes us happy. If it were, the average Nigerian who makes 300.00 a year would be miserable. In fact The Nigerians are reportedly the happiest people on earth. So what’s the point? Well just this. According to the Goldberg study, what makes people happiest, is living in, or being surrounded by, beauty.
As a measure, Androids funded research further discloses that:
Well-designed objects that are both beautiful and functional trigger positive emotions like calmness and contentment, reducing negative feelings like anger and annoyance by almost a third (29%)
Purely functional objects that are not beautiful increased negative emotions like gloominess and depression by 23%
Poor functionality hinders creativity, making it 45% more difficult to be creative
So, if you ever needed a reason to indulge in your favorite sights, or purchase that “Oh so beautiful” – and functional item, here it is.