Self love, my liege, is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting.
-William Shakespeare, Henry V
I was recently interviewed and asked a question that really made me think.
Even thought I practice, speak, write and have built my life around the art of interior design and it’s impact on our lives, I’ve never been asked why we need to surround ourselves with beauty. Surely I’ve extolled the benefit of creating beauty and living in that creation, but that simple question why? reminded me that there is deeper, more profound purpose to doing so.
My experience as an interior designer has shown me so much about life and living. It’s been a parable, spoken to me in the language of pattern and form, which helps me to understand the bigger picture. I’ve been thinking a lot about the answer to that question and I have deduced it to this: making the decision to surround oneself with beauty is the ultimate act of self-love.
That revelation was pretty profound to me, and perhaps it has trumped all of the reasons I’ve ever heard for making beauty in our surroundings a priority. This blows past the vapid reasons given by the ego, which likely boils down to displaying status or having more than the next guy. It blows past the reasons shown to us by the media, which likely boils down to selling us something. It even blows past the usual reasons we tell ourselves, which might just boil down to conforming or assuaging boredom.
Most of us probably don’t spend that much time being truly kind and loving to ourselves. We are taught to do for others and avoid the pitfalls of self-indulgence. But self -love is not narcissistic or hedonistic. It is about starting the process of love internally – at square one. Most of us skip over doing truly kind and compassionate things for ourselves, and go right to serving the needs of others. I’m reminded of the speech the flight attendant gives before take off instructing us to secure our own facemask before attempting to help someone else. How can we do for others if we don’t first do for ourselves?
Self -love is simply the act of being kind to ourselves without motive or to some intended end. Perhaps that looks like a nap when we’re tired or putting healthy foods into our body, or maybe looking in the mirror and not seeing all of our flaws.
Self -love shifts the way we see and think about ourselves. It helps us be a little kinder, a little gentler. When we see it in ourselves we can begin to see it in others and the more we want it in our universes. The practice of self love is probably the singular most important thing we can do to impact change on a personal or global level.
The state of self -love is the ultimate manifestation of beauty.
You might be asking yourself how I am connecting the dots from self -love to interior design? Quite simply.
At it’s core, the art of interior design is about making beauty manifest in our surroundings. It is a tool used to implement change that is experienced not only visually but viscerally. We can add colors and patterns that activate us, textures that soothe us and deliciously comfortable furniture to cradle us when we need it most. In the 30+ years I have been practicing I have had countless clients tell me they feel happier, calmer, more self aware, more grounded and even more motivated when a space is transformed to a picture they find beautiful. That picture is varied and subjective, as beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. But making the effort to implement those changes is a powerful and impactful act of self-love.
Beauty, which induces feelings of well-being and love and hope, is in short supply in the bigger world around us and I truly believe it is because we do not take the time to impart it in our personal worlds. If we don’t create a sense of beauty in our homes how will we have the strength to even try and create it in the space beyond our front door? If we don’t put effort into changing the energetic vibration of our homes how can we hold any hope of changing the vibration of the world? I for one am not willing to give up.
Creating beauty in the home does not always require a hefty budget and a small cadre of trades people. Like any act of self-love, it starts with taking a bit of time to observe what you have surrounded yourself with and being honest about how it makes you feel. If your eye hits anything that gives you that sour feeling (born of dislike, guilt, anger, frustration, apathy, etc.) you know that is something that needs to change or be edited out. If the eye scans a room or a space and doesn’t find anything that delights it (which is very sad) then it is an opportunity to add something beautiful. It could be anything from crown molding, to new drapes to a pleasing paint color. Or smaller still – a photograph or vase of flowers that stops the eye and gives it the pleasure of experiencing beauty.
The month of February gives us the opportunity to celebrate the love of a partner or spouse. Why not make March the month to start being kinder and more loving to ourselves. It’s a practice that will quickly radiate beyond the singular and benefit the collective.
Take the time to think about the question why?. You’re answer will soon be why not?