Why Do We Love Sunsets And Why They are Good for You

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Why do we love sunsets?   What inspires us to stop and admire them?  Why are we compelled to photograph them?  Have you ever stopped to think about these questions or, like me, are you just drawn to them so much that you don't even know why?


I grew up on the east side of Saratoga Lake from the time I was 13 until I got married and left home at age 24.  Prior to that my family summered on the east side of the lake all of my life.  I got to enjoy a sunset everyday - not just any sunset, but a sunset over the water which I think is even more beautiful than a sunset over land.  As a kid sunsets didn't really impress me, in fact I doubt I really paid any attention to them.  They were just part of life - every day the sun came up and it was daytime and then it went down and it was dark.  I'm pretty sure that's how most kids think, and actually many adults too.  Sunrise and sunset are just part of the passing of time.  They come and go without any fanfare and many people carry on without much notice to either, especially if they aren't visible from where they live or work.
My parents loved living on a lake and one of the things they loved the most was the daily sunsets they saw right from their picture window.......as seen below.
This was my dad's dock and boat. 
Their appreciation of nature taught me to appreciate it too and once I was old enough to think beyond my own little world, and especially when I became interested in photography, I came to love sunsets. That appreciation, that fascination, has never left.  Although I no longer live where I get to see one everyday, I am still in awe with each unique one I witness.

According to a post that appeared in Psychology Today by Linda Wasmer Andrews, "How Admiring the Sunset Changes You For the Better", "Studies show that appreciating natural beauty may boost well-being, increase generosity and enhance life satisfaction. The key is to actively engage with the experience.  Linda's article goes on to explain that people who feel connected with nature report being happier and more positive than those who don't share this connection.   She also cites a study that found that these positive emotions aroused by natural beauty led to increased prosociality - feelings and behaviors characterized by concern for others.  One study found that greater engagement with beauty was associated with higher levels of satisfaction, gratitude and spiritual outlook.  The article goes on to explain much more and ultimately recommends that we all slow down and learn to appreciate sunsets - and all the beauty of nature.   (To read the entire article, use the link at the end of this post.)

Although I may have learned the appreciation through my parents, I am always drawn to the beauty nature provides.  Just recently we were out with friends getting soft ice cream.  That evening the sky was amazingly beautiful with big puffy clouds lit up by the glow of the setting sun.  I was so captivated by the sky, I could barely concentrate on the company around me.....even though they and the rest of the people around us seemed oblivious to the sky above them.  I consider it a gift to be able to not only see but appreciate the beautiful world God has painted us each and every day.   It saddens me that we live in such a fast paced world that people are too busy to notice the beauty of a sunset.


Today I challenge you to take time in your life to stop and look around you.  Look at the color of the sky, the shape of the clouds and the way they drift across the sky.  Take a moment to take in a big whiff of the fresh air.  Then don't do a thing......just relax into that moment and savor it.  Think about how lucky you are to have the senses that give you the ability to experience this moment.  Think about the people who can't see, who can't view the beauty of nature.  Think about the people in nursing homes or sick beds who can no longer get outside to enjoy these simple gifts.  One day, that might be you.  One day might be tomorrow.  Stop moving, stop doing and start enjoying.  If you haven't a view of the sunset, go someplace that does.  Take 15 minutes to just be in the moment and watch the sun disappear from view....in all it's colorful glory.  And when you do, tell me if you regret the time you took to do so.   I'm pretty confident you'll be glad you did.  And in case you need a little convincing......here's some encouragement.






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7 Comments »

7 Responses to “Why Do We Love Sunsets And Why They are Good for You”

  1. So very pretty! During the school year we leave the house at 6:45 in the morning. And even though I hate the rush to get out of the house and hate how long we have to spend in the car each day, I've always loved the fact that it allows us to see the sunrise. It's like the booby prize, but a really good one! :-)

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    1. As a retired person...6:45 is sounding pretty dang early! LOL. Good for you to have found something that makes that chore worthwhile and a sunrise is certainly a great prize! I'm sure it is also teaching your kids to notice and appreciate them too! Thanks for the comment!

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  2. Just absolutely beautiful Gail. Thank you for sharing these lovely photos. Some just took my breath away.

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    1. Thank you Debra! Grateful to be able to share them!

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  3. What beautiful photos! I loved learning about the way they help our well-being, too!

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  4. I used to live where the sun set over the Sierra Nevada Mountains every day. It was one of the greatest pleasures of my life to watch it every night. We would go outside and watch it dip below the mountains in awe of how amazing it was. I love sunsets, and I love hearing how good they ar for me! Thanks for a great post!

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