I moved to Southern California from the East Coast a few years ago. One thing I’ve noticed here is that there are so many flowers, and they are so beautiful. I’m not even a person who is “into” flowers, really.

Many times when I am out for a walk, I see a stray flower that completely captures my attention. Like this one. beauty threshold

Flowers like this just appear randomly along a walkway near my house. I don’t even know if it’s meant to be there on purpose. It might be wild.

Every time I see a flower like this, I exclaim to my uninterested husband, “Look at this flower!! It’s so perfect!” and I can’t stop looking at it and commenting on it. I wonder why he doesn’t seem to give even the smallest care about it! It’s so amazing that it’s so perfect!

He’ll be like, “Yup.”

But I think there is something about this perfection in nature that gets to me. It’s like the ultimate beauty, and it seems like it’s by accident. Now, I know nature isn’t “by accident”–that flowers look the way they do to attract pollinating bees and stuff like that–but the way the flowers just grow and reveal their flawless designs is such a wonderful things for us humans, because we get to enjoy it.overwhelm beauty

I asked a scientist friend if she could explain why humans find flowers attractive. She led me to a site that said this: “There is a sense of chaotic order in the way nature works. Everything coexists in nature without the necessity of outside intervention. It is a system that has existed successfully since the beginning of time, which provides a sense of structure, coherence, and reliability… Realizing that human beings are an essential component of this larger structure can supply a sense of purpose and belonging.” source

Hm. That sounds very pleasant.

Then I did a quick search on “why are flowers beautiful?” and a random comment caught my eye. Someone wrote, in response to the aforementioned question:

“Bees and humans both have brains that are based on the same basic building blocks, neurons or nerve cells. These cells are linked together in networks that have predictable behaviors. First and foremost is threshold behavior. Stimuli must overcome a given amount of intensity before evoking a response. Plants have evolved flowers that evoke a response from neural networks.

An interesting behavior in neural networks is their lack of sensitivity to the idea of too much stimulus. You can’t have too much beauty.” source

WHOA. Thanks for the awesome quote, buddy!!!

First of all–disclaimer–I have NO IDEA if this person quoted above knows what they are talking about. It’s just a comment I found on the internet, so there’s no proof about anything. But the fact that they said “You can’t have too much beauty” set off bells in my head.perfection in nature

I wrote a post a while back about being overwhelmed by beauty. It’s about how when I see a beautiful place, like an old cathedral or nice scenery, I feel like I can never appreciate it enough, and I’m bothered by that.

Maybe I’m drawn to symmetrical, beautiful flowers because their intense beauty stimulates a response in my brain. Aren’t our brains drawn to stimulation? (sensation seeking?)

Perhaps that flower is beautiful enough to overcome my stimuli threshold and evoke a response in me…but it’s not enough to evoke it in my husband.

So, I think I’ve found the solution. I have a lower beauty threshold than him, I guess. At least when it comes to flowers.

Listen to the podcast episode about this topic.

This post was originally written in March 2014 and updated March 2016.