Today I wanted to think about how it comes that beauty makes us happy. Why does a golden sunset or a delicate flower or a puppy make us happy?
But the more I sat thinking about it, the more I started to doubt whether that is always true. If I’m unhappy, will a sunset make me happy again? Or do I have to be happy first to be able to be happier by the sight of a beautiful sunset? Might it even be so that a beautiful sunset can cause me more unhappiness if I for example have unhappy emotions of loneliness, low self-esteem or quilt? Maybe that beauty will make me feel excluded from the happiness I know I’m supposed to feel.
That makes sense if the saying “The beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is true. How I interpret something depends on my mood, and the interpretation then adds to my mood. If I see a beautiful woman, will I smile and be inspired or will I feel ugly and inferior? Well it all depends on my attitude. That attitude can of course be one of very deep good or bad self-esteem, but it can also vary from day to day, depending on my mood that actual day (or if I have a bad hair day!) If I’m happy I will get happier, if I’m sad I will get sadder. That’s unfair, isn’t it!?
But I still enjoy beauty around me. I can’t really understand people who have aggressive, sad or cruel art on their walls. But once again that’s my interpretation! When I was a poor student I bought a beautiful, quite expensive picture. The first thing you saw was the head of a man in total peace, with a light smile on his lips. If you continued to look you could see that his head was on a plate. It was a picture of John the Baptist’s head. When I looked at it I was filled with the peace of his face at that moment, but all my friends found it horrible and only saw the cruelty behind it!
Still I think we have an urge to make our surroundings pleasant and nice and that we like to enjoy beauty. If we’re not too unhappy, but just a bit exhausted or low, I believe the sight of a sunset or a puppy can’t keep us from feeling a bit better. Or what do you say?
When I first heard about the Observer Effect, some 25 years ago, I could not believe it. But during the years I’ve come across a documentary every now and then and just the other day I saw one again. The Observer Effect refers to the phenomenon that might happen when a person just by observing an experiment changes the way the particles are behaving. Within quantum mechanics there is a classic example where electrons are being projected towards a wall. On their way to the wall the electrons have to go through two rectangular holes, thus making the same pattern on the wall. As if you were spraying color through a template to make a decoration on your wall. Nothing strange about that. Waves, which is not any kind of particles, makes a completely different pattern on the wall, since they are not moving, before and after the template, in the same way as particles.
Now comes the interesting part! When the researchers were looking at the difference between how particles and waves are behaving, they could suddenly see on their recordings that when nobody was observing the experiment, the particles were behaving as if they were waves. That never happened when someone was observing them. Nobody could explain what was happening. Some years later other researchers did the same experiment, with a person present but with his eyes closed. Just before the electrons were to hit the wall he opened his eyes. On the recordings you could see how the particles started out, behaving as waves, but in the same moment that the person opened his eyes they turned into behaving as particles again. And they even changed their history, so looking back it looked as if they had behaved as particles from the start.
Still there is no explanation for this that scientists within all disciplines are accepting, but I don’t care so much about that. I’m mostly fascinating by the thought that there might be a consciousness behind the matter. That would mean that our reality is not built by particles, but by a consciousness deciding who, when and where the particles should act. That opens up a lot of new possibilities! Doesn’t it?
If you’re interested you can look at this fascinating documentary (the Observer Effect comes towards the end): The Simulation Hypothesis
And here you can read about the first experiment: ScienceDaily; Quantum Theory Demonstrated: Observation Affects Reality