What You See Is What You Get | Darling Magazine

The highway was clear and breezy with my hair whipping back from my face. The radio kept me company on a windy, spring drive. I stopped at a gas station for my favorite sparkling water and was greeted by an amiable cop with a sweet southern twang. I made easy conversation with the man behind the counter who took a friendly interest in my weekend plans—genuinely wishing me a very happy Friday as I left his small store.

I got back into the car shaking my head, amazed at the kindness of strangers—overwhelmed with goosebumps and a tugging at my tear ducts. It felt like nice things were strewn across my path that day, waiting to be delightfully discovered. And I was thankful. People were kind, flowers were extra sweet, and the birds’ chirping was melodically soothing. I sighed­—big and happy. The world felt like a puzzle, fitting together with ease and beauty.

On days like that my mind becomes an old, red Viewmaster, displaying my happy memories before my eyes. Click, click, click, the memories flip like the round disk of slides. I am overwhelmed and teary at the beautiful life I’m living.

On another, equally unassuming day, my alarm failed to go off. I woke up with 10 minutes to spare before I’d be late for work—again. With mascara half on and my foot blindly searching for a shoe, I hurried towards the door. Only when I was pulling away from my house did I realize that I was absolutely starving and impossibly sleepy.

Coffee is a non-negotiable on a day like that.

I sped toward the drive through only to find out that 10 other cars had the same idea. Too late to back out, I waited in line for what seemed like forever, watching the clock tick away until I was undoubtedly late for work.

The day got worse from there. Nothing seemed to go right and everything I did seemed wrong. I was sensitive and insecure, anxious and frantic. Sliding quickly towards the end of my rope, tears threatened to break through the thin veil that was barely holding them at bay.

I stepped outside for a moment to take a breath and look around. I remembered with amazement that just a few days before, the world had been a bright and shining place. What had happened to the smell of those flowers, and where were those darn birds? I couldn’t see beauty through my thick, angry fog.

It seems that on a good day, all I can see is beauty. It’s like my eyes are trained to only see bright colors and love—the rest of the world fading away into the background.

But on a bad day it’s the opposite. I am blind to joy and beauty and attuned to all of the bad things that hide down alleys and in the safety of the dark.

I wonder if it’s the day—if there’s a pattern or a rhyme or a reason. Is it a certain cereal or clocking the full eight hours? Is it your dreams or your stress level or is the coffee shop just always extra crowded on the days you’re in the biggest hurry? What’s the tipping point between the best days and the kinds where you want to give up and start again?

I think that the key is in our eyes.

On days when we feel good, when we’re tall and clean and rested, our eyes seem to be tuned differently. Maybe our eyes follow our mood, capturing the beautiful things around us that reflect the beauty stirring inside. Beauty sees beauty.

And the opposite seems true as well. We’re hurried and anxious and dissatisfied already, and our tuned-in eyes capture all of the things that reinforce that negativity. Frustration sees frustration.
What we see is what we get.

So what if we ask our eyes to go first? What if, even before our moods decide to cooperate, we ask our eyes to look for those beautiful things – not out of a good mood, but in an effort to create one? What if we decide, on purpose, to look for the beautiful things in the world – pulling our stubborn moods along until they’re ready to walk on their own?

I want to go through every day—regardless of which side of the bed I woke up on—and notice the sweet scent of the flowers, and the tickle of the wind ruffling my hair across my shoulder. I want to see the beauty that is strewn across my path each day—just waiting to be discovered.

What could we cultivate if we decided to look for beauty?

Photo by Gabriella Rose Photography


  1. Absolutely beautiful. What a fluid, poetic writer you are! Your words are inspiring to someone who battles the same issues 🙂 thank you for the wise and insightful words.

  2. And here I was thinking it was the weather. Seriously. Today is a beautiful day where I live, and I’ve enjoyed many things. But I think you’re absolutely right – it’s about our outlook – what we see and how we see it. And it definitely seems like a daily practice. It would have been so much easier to dream about moving to a nicer climate, but the truth is I still would struggle to see beauty each day, because I’d be carrying my frustrated eyes with me. Better to begin practicing seeing beauty each day right here. Maybe then it will feel like “home.”

  3. Beautiful article. I’ve been reading “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, and she challenges the reader to do the same – search for reasons to give thanks even in thankless times. I’d definitely recommend the book to anyone wanting to start living a more grateful life.

  4. This post is timely and wonderfully written. Though, I would like to pose a counter question; should we, on the days full of beauty, ask our eyes to find the frustrating. I’ve been thinking along these lines, and I think choosing to stay away from both extremes would be worthwhile.

  5. Absolutely loved this. Makes me wonder how much in life is overlooked because of our moods…
    It also challenges me to look for beauty despite my feelings. xo

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