How much power does a flower really have? More than you might realize. Appreciating everyday beauty – from blazing sunsets to a handmade blanket – is a simple act with incredible impact, capable of healing and transforming your life. It’s not a hard concept to grasp when you’re having a wonderful day. But what about those stressful, sorrowful days when you’re ready to pull your hair out? The benefits of beauty are the last thing on your mind when you’re stuck in the muck, even though that’s when it can have the most impact.

On a recent week-long family trip to Disney World, I begrudgingly put that theory to the test. I was seven months pregnant at the time, which translated into frayed nerves, sore feet and raging hormones. I tried to stay upbeat; after all, I was supposedly visiting the Happiest Place on Earth! But by the third all-day theme park excursion, my energy and attitude were in a tailspin. Everything seemed to be going wrong: my preschooler was cranky and whiney, the park was ridiculously overcrowded, the lines painfully long. It’s no surprise, but the more I focused on the negative, the worse things seemed to get.

Hoping that lines for the rides would decrease while everyone watched an afternoon street parade at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we hurriedly trudged across the park to get in line for the safari ride – one of the most popular at the park. By the time we arrived, I was out of breath and out of energy. I couldn’t wait to sit down on the ride, just to give my feet a break. But then, just before boarding, we noticed a sign that read: Expectant Mothers Should Not Ride. As my family climbed on board the tram and waved goodbye, a ride employee instructed me to walk down a path and wait on a bench. It was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears as she ushered me out the gate.

I found the bench, sat down and sulked – head hung low, eyes fixated on the ground, a frown firmly planted on my face. I hadn’t felt this down in a long time and I’m certain I looked like the most miserable person on the planet! Throngs of tourists passed me by as they got off the ride, smiling and recounting their favorite parts, while I sat like a bump on a log, wallowing in self-pity. And that’s when I heard it: the sweet little chirp of a tiny bird sitting at my feet. Quite frankly, I didn’t really want to listen. I was having too much fun feeling sorry for myself. But he kept on singing his song, staring right at me.

Suddenly, I realized what a fool I was being. How could I possibly be bitter in the middle of Disney World!? I knew I had an immediate choice to make: stay stuck in the muck feeling sorry for myself, or pull myself out by focusing on all the good around me. Rather than waste any more energy on my personal pity party, I began counting the beautiful things in my midst. A towering palm tree. A sleeping baby. A glistening rain puddle.

I have to admit, the exercise felt forced at first. My ego and my aching feet were rooting for me to use this occasion to get bitter, not better. But I pressed on, knowing how much appreciating beauty has uplifted me in the past. Within a few minutes, it no longer felt contrived. I lost count of all the beauty sightings – trees, leaves, blue sky, balloons – and found myself feeling grateful for the opportunity to sit back and soak up the world around me. Before I knew it, my family had exited the ride and was charging toward me with big smiles and a full report. I felt genuinely happy for them and kept my own little emotional roller coaster to myself. Surrounded by loved ones and countless bits of beauty, I finished out my day with a sense of delight and gratitude.

So, how could something so simple snap me out of those moments of melancholy? In scientific terms, the sensory experience of appreciating beauty soothes the parasympathetic nervous system, where feelings like depression and sorrow live. In the same way listening to a favorite song or getting a massage stimulates your senses and can pull you out of a funk, noticing and valuing things that are pleasing to the eye can train your brain to literally see the world in a different way and feel better.

Happily, everyday beauty is accessible to everyone. And you get to choose what is beautiful to you – anything that makes your heart skip a beat or soothes your soul. From a tiny songbird to a smiling child, the beauty of life is available in abundance, just waiting to bring you joy.

Author's Bio: 

Liv Lane is a successful writer, radio host and founder of Choosing Beauty™, devoted to helping others live with joy by learning to redefine, recognize and appreciate the beauty in their midst. Her One Year of Beauty blog has received worldwide media attention and multiple online awards. For more information, go to and visit the blog at