Why Beauty Might Save Your Life

Some people challenge members of our Radical Joy for Hard Times community about our way of responding to local and global environmental challenges. They say, “What good does making beauty do?” They say, “Why aren’t you out protesting instead?”
Activism is vital! Education, litigation, writing your newspaper editor… essential! And… there is always a time and a place to give and receive beauty. When times get tough, giving and receiving beauty are actions you can do at a moment’s notice. You don’t special tools or expertise. You don’t need to tell yourself you’ll schedule this good action for sometime in the future.
I believe that finding and making beauty in wounded places will be crucial not only to surviving but to finding meaning, love, and community in the midst of hard times. It is true that the entire planet is under extreme duress, yet the ramifications of that duress will be very personal—showing up in the bird and insect species we lose, the lands destroyed by drought and flood and fire, all the people seeking refuge from the particular calamities in their own homelands.
As hard times, both ecological and personal, plague us:
  • We must find allies among people who hold different political and religious views from us.
  • We must find beauty because beauty lifts us, even momentarily, out of darkness and blesses us with a promise of the possibility of light.
  • We must certainly make beauty wherever and whenever we can, because that action reminds us of our own creativity, courage, and ability to change the course we thought we were on.
Find and make beauty yourself this weekend by joining our worldwide Global Earth Exchange! There’s still time to sign up on our website and receive a hand-painted RadJoy flag. And even if you don’t sign up, you can still send include your Global Earth Exchange! Just send a photo of your event and a description of what happened to me and we’ll put them on the website.
Trebbe Johnson

Trebbe Johnson
Trebbe JohnsonFounder
Trebbe is the author of The World Is a Waiting Lover and 101 Ways to Make Guerrilla Beauty. Her new book, Radical Joy for Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty, will be published in Fall 2018 by North Atlantic Books. Her articles about people’s emotional and spiritual relationship with nature have appeared in Orion, Sierra, Ecopsychology, The Ecologist, The Nation, Harper’s and other magazines. She lives with her husband, Andrew Gardner, in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, a region currently under exploitation by natural gas companies.

Image Credit:

  • Fowler Plastic Med Wheel Small: Mary Janet Fowler


  • Friedmann Children 2 Copy

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Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places.

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