Weekly Slides

Week 27 - Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence

By Jeff Bryan

There will be no edges, but curves.
Clean lines pointing only forward.

History, with its hard spine & dog-eared
Corners, will be replaced with nuance,

Just like the dinosaurs gave way
To mounds and mounds of ice.

-Tracy K. Smith

For an overview of each weekly slide presentation, please skip below to your specific grade level.
  • To see the 1-page Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence Character Card and share it with your students’ families, click here.
  • For the P2 Reflection Journals, used by all elementary students at the end of the week, click here.

Photo Credit: Shawn Miller, Library of Congress

Appreciating beauty and excellence means that you notice and value the world’s beauty and people’s skills. This is the ability to identify and enjoy that which is admirable in the world. There are three types of goodness in which positive psychology focuses: physical beauty (e.g. a sunset, song, or building); an exceptional skill or talent; and moral goodness (e.g. a character strength). Appreciation of beauty can generate awe; appreciation of a skill can generate admiration; and appreciation of moral goodness can generate moral elevation. All of these feelings (awe, admiration, and moral elevation) help us forget ourselves and find increased joy and meaning in the world.

This week’s examples is Tracy K. Smith. She is the current poet laureate of the United States. She sees this role “as an invitation to celebrate poetry and its uses in our day-to-day lives” and is working to help Americans understand that poetry is “a way of talking about our lives, and it’s a way of listening to other people—listening to a voice together and going somewhere as a result of that process.”

Smith’s Life on Mars won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In this poetry collection, she brings language to her feelings and memories. As Smith explains, “The last section of the poem is directly about my father. It begins when my father worked on the Hubble space telescope. And it really was my attempt — or the opportunity that I took to go backwards and think about that moment in our family, when my father was still this all-powerful figure who would live forever and the questions that were being asked, not only by the scientists and engineers, but also the children…So much of my poetry begins with something that I can describe in visual terms, so thinking about distance, thinking about how life begins and what might be watching us.”

So, why does appreciation of beauty and excellence matter?

Appreciating excellence and beauty helps an individual experience positive emotions and connect to the world
around him/her. It’s an outward facing strength, meaning the individual is focused on the world outside his/her head. And, not only is the individual outwardly focused, but often deeply absorbed in a sense of awe or admiration, freeing him/her to forget anxieties and troubles. And it is associated with other strengths, such as gratitude, curiosity, love of learning, and connection/purpose.

On a group level, those who appreciate excellence and beauty make our lives more enjoyable. First, it means that they’re not looking to criticize the world or its people, but instead take pleasure from their excellence. Second, it is the writers, painters, musicians, and filmmakers who help us better appreciate the world around us. It’s due to their admiration for the way the sun hits off a wave or the quiet perseverance of a cross-country runner, that we are able to see the world with fresh eyes.


And, as a reminder, you can find all of our weekly slide presentations on our website’s Resources page here. This page is the place that we recommend you go to access all of the resources — not via Google Drive folders.

To find your grade level’s presentation, you can simply type the word “appreciation” into the Resource Title search bar or sort by Character Strength and select Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence. Each of those options will provide you with 10 slide presentations and one 1-page character card. For a simple overview of the Resources page, with pictures and videos, click here.

Jeff Bryan
CEO and Co-Founder of The Positivity Project

Jeff Bryan is the CEO and Co-Founder of The Positivity Project. In this role, he leads the organization to support educators to empower their students to build positive relationships and become their best selves.