The 5 Most Beautiful Things Project

And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?

And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?

And have you changed your life? ~from The Swan by Mary Oliver

Let’s Make The #5MostBeautifulThings Project Viral! The world needs this! Join us on Twitter by clicking here. @5MBTProject

My partner in crime Jenni Young of made this poster for our project. Click to connect with them.

Become an Active Beauty Seeker.

The other day I wanted to read a poem by Mary Oliver to my yoga class, as I am prone to do being a poetry addict and all, and I couldn’t find it. Wild Geese was the one. One of my favorites. So I said the first line:

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting

and then, much to my delight, I kept going. I knew the whole thing by heart. I guess I knew that I knew it. (Don’t we always know?)

That’s what we do with beautiful things. We tuck them away. We use them when we need them, in our bearlike way. We use them as fuel. We breathe them. We give them away. We remember them as long as we can.

Sometimes we miss them completely.

Words do it for me. They excite me, the way they roll around in my mouth, and the feel of them, the texture both shocking and comforting at the same time like a million smooth marbles. And if they are strung together just right, those little white Christmas lights of words make me close my eyes and wish them never to leave. That they would stay forever there on that tree lighting it up and that the moment would never darken and the tree would never die and I would never let the words escape from the safety of my mouth, whether they were spoken aloud or not.

They would light me from the inside out for the rest of my life.

That’s kind of how it is with certain words for me. Certain turns of phrase, and poems and sentences. They knock me out with weight and I want to keep them as if they belong to me and not to the world.

This is what beauty often does. We want to claim it and make it part of us.

Our lives need beauty. Relenteless, unremitting beauty.

I was driving this morning to a client to teach him yoga and I started to think about the five most beautiful things I saw at that very moment. I am not sure why because I was at a traffic light and it was grey and cold outside. I saw a dirty purple sign for Donuts! and a beautiful blonde teenager with a sign that said: Hungry. Please help.

These things struck me as beatiful right then in that moment. So I kept going, kept looking. What else could I find?

This is the challenge: Every hour stop what you are doing and write down the 5 most beautiful things to you right in that moment. Every hour or as often as you can! You can also post pics in addition to writing them down. Just connect in some way and find the beauty.

I can hear you already: But I am on the freeway. I am at work. There is nothing beuatiful. I am watching tv. I am in a bad mood, I can’t see anything beautiful. I don’t have my glasses on.

It’s there! Look! It’s right there. It’s here. Close your eyes and see it even if it is not right in front of you, even if you have to dig into the well of your imagination which might feel has run dry of beauty a long time ago.

Even then.

Here’s a a line from a poem I wrote called “Speaking In Code” 

Beauty, unremitting like this, so hard to come by-

And yet it is everywhere, this beauty.

You can’t ignore something so beautiful.

Make your list and keep filling it up and when there is no room get a new paper and keep going and going and going. You will amaze yourself. You will find that you are actively looking for beauty wherever you are. No matter what. And what else is the point? What is beauty for if not to lighten us up from the inside out and sometimes, from the outside in?

I asked my tribe on Facebook what the 5 most beautiful things were for them and here are some of their responses:

Kelly Eckert The sound of a robin singing in the rain occasionally punctuated by the sound of the wind in the trees. Breathing deeply. My husband’s typing. My son’s face. My daughter’s smile.

Paul Teodo my dad is retiring today after running hospitals and drug treatment centers for the past 35 years. He worked his ass off to try and make a difference in people’s lives, and provided my brother and I with a lot. Now he is finally taking some time for himself. He is 62 and in great health and spirits. I get to see him tomorrow in Nashville, TN.

Kira J Pullig The ocean. My parents 45 years of marriage. The human spirit’s capacity for healing. Flowers. Silence.

Christina Collazo Cathey The cloudless sky above me, my caffeine buzz, my daughter humming a tune, my creativity surging through my veins (oh wait is that caffeine?), and my heart beating in Love. 🙂

Alli Akard in this very moment… the sound of my kids playing, the smell of my lunch and its taste of pure nourishment, the site of the trees rustling in the breeze and the sunshine on my face. beautifully simple.

M’Le Leach At this moment, my dog who is sleeping next to me, my boyfriend(who I know must be having a rough day), My yoga practice, the love and support I get from my friends and family, and the sun shine that hasn’t been seen in a week. 🙂

Katie Chatzopoulos The smile on my nieces face

The roof over my head

The water in my cup

The clothes on my back

The peace in my heart that the storm is passed

Chrissy Santa Maria My tea cup, all my friends, my family, life, restaurants that deliver.

Daisy Lane 1.) My children eating corn on the cob! 2.) The leaves falling from the trees in my yard. 3.) The jazz music playing from the “Maxie with Moxie” playlist 4.) The Reese’s from the plastic pumpkin candy holder on the counter. 5.) The Boston Center for Adult Education catalogue I’m looking through-so many offerings!

Michelle Mendoza My autistic daughter making direct and penetrating eye contact with me and signing “I love you”. That’s pretty much 1-5 for me! 🙂

Liz Vartanian 5 most beautiful things RIGHT NOW: 1) my sweet 3 week old breastfeeding, 2) homemade vanilla extract & jam, 3) down-dogging dogs, 4) the beauty mid-80’s day out, and 5) the moment of meditation when all is quiet for two minutes in the house 🙂 <3 xo

Respect the Rays 1- how quiet it is in my house right now…i can hear my breath. 2- my 3 children 3- hearing the word BENIGN 4-seeing an upside down rainbow and capturing it on “film” 5- my gratitude i feel about getting to go to yoga today.

Rachel Pastiloff 1. My kids, 2. my new favorite book ‘life is a verb by Patti Digh, 3. The amazing colors of the fall trees in my backyard in Georgia, 4. The amazing clouds in the sky before a storm(the really big fluffy ones), 5. My fathers headstone (I know that seems strange but it is the most beautiful thing in the world to me)

Anna Sidoti  just five? I could’ve found 500!!

Beautiful photo of my friend Yulady Saluti by my dear soul brother Robert Sturman. “”Hello cancer, thanks for the scars, now it’s my turn and as you can see I am a cancer warrior.” — Yulady Saluti (32 year old yoga teacher and mother of 6). Click photo to connect to Robert’s page filled with beauty!
My friend Dani Orner who is also my partner in a film we are making about body image. Beauty!!!
There is something about an old typewriter that takes my breath away.
Ronan! One of my best friend’s Emily Rapp’s son who is dying of Tay Sachs Disease. Click link to order her book “The Still Point of the Turning World.” relases March 2013 Penguin Press.
This sky. This is why I am going to Bali. I am chasing the beauty!~

What if we walked around looking for beauty instead of looking for things to be stressed about or offended by? What if we became beauty hunters? What if we told more beautiful stories? What if it was all we saw, even in the dirt? What if we trained our eyes and our hearts to tune into that which makes us cock our head to one side and close our eyes gently in an effort to memorize what we were looking at. What if it is all we got?

What if all we have is our 5 beautiful things?

I have heard my teacher Wayne Dyer tell this story so many times but it always makes me perk up out of my seat and listen as if my life depended on it. (Maybe it does?)

Wayne Dyer used the example of the Holocaust Survivor Victor Frankl who was able to mentally survive living in a concentration camp by finding beauty in a fish head floating in his soup. In a fish head, guys. You read that? A fish head!!

Share below what your 5 most beautiful things are right now and please share this post. Let’s make it viral. What’s your fish head?

Tweet me #5mostbeautifulthings by clicking here @jenpastiloff


  • Reply Tammy Collard November 3, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Watching my son flourish, my father turn 84, a rescue dog trust me, me smile again and the sun shining on me.

  • Reply Carina November 3, 2012 at 10:38 am

    The five most beautiful things in front of me right now is: an old cabin, a buddha in my window, a peach-coloured bowl, a white clothing and a big old lamp. I didn´t wont to whrite my doughter because she is not a thing…And the most beautiful thing is not in front of me…it is inside me-my spirit. Love to you!

  • Reply barbarapotter November 5, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    The sun this morning on the back porch with a beautiful breeze, the book I love reading while out there, my husband feeling better and my beautiful grandchildren.

  • Reply Shelley November 5, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    My dog asleep in my lap, my husband nailing boards on our renovation, our action plan for financial freedom, monument paint all over my hands, my trusty old couch where we rest, share, cuddle and dream .

  • Reply Charlene November 5, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    1. Catching up with a friend on the phone and still laughing an hour later about our conversation. 2. Checking in my babies rooms and seeing their precious faces sound asleep, wondering what they are dreaming of. 3. The bubble bath that I am about to soak myself in. 4. My family’s strength and unity. 5. The love and peace in my heart as I write this.

  • Reply Alice Hinman November 5, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    fresh paint, a raging fire in my woodstove, three good dogs, help from a friend, potential.

  • Reply Lisa Mane November 6, 2012 at 4:59 am

    1. waking up early and feeling rested, 2. yoga, 3. technology that allows us to reach out to each other so easily, 4. music, 5. my crazy-awesome family

  • Reply Liz Tyburczy November 6, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Used find 5 of the most beautiful things right in front of you, in my class last night.
    Every time I think about this I find those beautiful things. Sometimes I find more than
    five sometimes less. As long i can always find 1 that makes my day perfect. I pledge to be an active Beauty Seeker

  • Reply Lisa H. November 6, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Shedding the dread I used to feel upon waking up in the morning to face my old corporate workday and now rising with anticipation of what inspiration the day holds in its hands…the grace of an autumn leaf fluttering, falling, transitioning from branch to ground…the peaceful purity of my daughter’s sleeping face before I wake her…feeling a passionate surge of gratitude…the imagery and wisdom of Mary Oliver’s poetry (“The Journey” speaks loudly to me right now.) This last one I must explain. Just a few weeks ago I happened upon “Swan” and “Red Bird” at our public library, and I was so consumed by the poems within that upon returning those two books, I checked out “Evidence,” “Why I Wake Early” and “New And Selected Poems,” and I’ve been devouring them since! Isn’t it interesting when something presents itself, then keeps popping up? I was reading “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed in the past week, our book club’s pick this month, and an excerpt from Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day” appears on page 235, and now here I am with your post and another reference to Mary Oliver’s poetry!

  • Reply The 5 Most Beautiful Things Project « Positively Positive November 10, 2012 at 3:14 am

    […] is the challenge: Every hour, stop what you are doing and write down the five most beautiful things to you right in that moment. Every hour, or as often as you can! You can also post pictures in […]

  • Reply A November 10, 2012 at 10:43 am

    The sunshine streaming through the window, my herbs and fern growing on the coffee table, my roommates joking around while reading the paper, the possibility of the day/my plans with friends, and the very inviting fall day outside my window.

    I really appreciate how this simple question pulled me out of my computer vision this morning. <3

  • Reply Jennifer_Woods November 10, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Beautiful: the love my friends, family & cat show me; having a cozy apartment; dark roman wine; making xmas gifts; giving.

  • Reply Sharon Cormier November 11, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Bare tree branches against a gray sky; the small finch on one branch; the buds holding space on each branch for spring; the roots holding fast to the earth; my eyes to see the tree.

  • Reply Monday Motivator :: 5 Most Beautiful Things - November 11, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    […] Pastiloff, yoga teacher, poet, and writer of the blog Manifest Station,  has initiated the 5 Most Beautiful Things Challenge. She is asking that you make a list of the 5 most beautiful things in front of you right now and […]

  • Reply beauty hunter November 20, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    my country, my new company registration, my dad’s phone call,

  • Reply FAVOURITE THINGS: Past lives & being present - Kayla Ramsay Kayla Ramsay November 25, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    […] 5 Most Beautiful Things Project is one of the greatest ideas I’ve heard in a while. This challenge encourages you to stop […]

  • Reply itshardtodance November 26, 2012 at 4:37 am

    What a beautiful concept. My 5 this hour would have to be the sunshine, my twirly skirt that I chose to wear today, my beating heart, my anticipation of the day to come, and lovely, warm coffee close by me.

  • Reply On Discovering You Are Still Human. « The Manifest-Station December 9, 2012 at 5:43 pm

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  • Reply Bard Judith January 13, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    My daughter’s cheerful acquiescence to my summons / the green button on my jacket that says, simply ‘ART MATTERS’ / the cat’s lazy complaint as she changes position on her warm perch / Spirit inspiring my next page of journaling / an old, glassless oil lantern hanging over my workspace…

  • Reply Tory Beaulieu January 26, 2013 at 10:31 am

    My children peacefully resting. Heat. Sunshine. Quiet. Black and White photos on my wall of Wild Mustangs out West.

  • Reply Dana S. January 27, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Your writing, my novel ( the one I’m still writing.), my mom, my cozy home, last but not least, my blackberry! 😉

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  • Reply LuLu Rivera March 13, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    A sticky note on my desk from years ago from my daughters, there is nothing more beautiful to me than them

  • Reply Mimi March 19, 2013 at 11:18 am

    1) My God, who loves ME.. unconditionally. 2) my loving husband and beautiful daughters. 3) The roof over my head and having enough to live comfortably 4) my doggies as they sleep beside me. 5) My wonderful parents who did the best they could.

  • Reply Darren Bunton March 25, 2013 at 11:58 am

    My digs…
    a picture of my beautiful children
    a grey sky
    smiling faces
    these posts

    • Reply JenPastiloff March 25, 2013 at 12:01 pm

      thanks Darren! been too long sweetie xx

  • Reply barbarapotter March 25, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    The quiet and peacefulness outside, my indoor kitty sleeping curled up on my bed,
    the sweet outdoor feral kitty that I feed outside and the excitement she shows when she sees me with her pretty green eyes and little cute nose, a formal framed picture of me age 2 on my bedroom wall, the Bronze Star Medal framed on my husband’s dresser from Vietnam, the space where my car no longer stands but I do after being hit last week by another car…thank you & blessed.

  • Reply 5 Most Beautiful Things | The Approximate Yogi May 31, 2013 at 1:34 am

    […] Her idea is this – “Every hour stop what you are doing and write down the 5 most beautiful things to you right in that moment. Every hour or as often as you can! You can also post pics in addition to writing them down. Just connect in some way and find the beauty.” You can read more about the project here on her blog. […]

  • Reply Richelle May 31, 2013 at 9:23 am

    The breeze that passes through my little casita here in Tulum and tickles the palms in the front yard. The furry footrest under my feet who follows me wherever I go (my crazy puppy bodhi). The boxes and bags stacked around me that bring with them change, new beginings and the excitement of the unknown as we get ready to move… yet again. The zesty tang I get in the back of my throat from the fresh smoothie I’m sipping for breakfast. The sound of our scooter… with my partner and love returning from the new ‘locale’ (storefront) he stepped out of his comfort zone and is now opening.

  • Reply Denise Dare » “The 5 Most Beautiful Things” :: What are You Choosing? May 31, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    […] host of Manifestation Retreats and creator of The 5 Most Beautiful Things Project (check it out here!), Jen Pastiloff, who wisely reminds us […]

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    […] I happened to glance at the question posted by Jennifer Pastiloff on her page, after posting my 5 Most Beautiful Things of the […]

  • Reply angie albert June 21, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    The rain drops falling from the trees on my backyard….

  • Reply J June 25, 2013 at 7:35 am

    Hearing a few minutes ago about my mom’s perfect blood work results a month before her 65th birthday, the sound of my son (over the monitor) turning in his crib, the lovely air-conditioned room I am in that shields me from the humidity outside, the lamp light I am writing by and the feeling of drowsiness before I rest for the night.

  • Reply A Letter of Closure | Confessions of an Imperfect Life July 7, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    […] we wrote our 5 Most Beautiful Things about each other, none of the letters from my friends mentioned weight or pants size. When we were […]

  • Reply catfishmom November 20, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    leaves how they fall differently depending on their shape, orange mushrooms that grow wild in my park, the way my little dog licks my big dogs snout and teeth, a simple shell on the beach, the way my father looks at me

  • Reply Comfortable In My Humanness. | The Manifest-Station December 16, 2013 at 10:42 am

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    […] on beauty and how it contributes to a happy life have been influenced by Jennifer Pastiloff’s 5 Most Beautiful Things Project. You should try […]

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    […] am particularly grateful for discovering Jennifer Pastiloff‘s 5 Most Beautiful Things Project, which allowed me to reconnect with all the little beautiful moments in my life I’d been […]

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  • Reply Jennifer Zito October 21, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    5 most beautiful things in front of me right now ~ seeing the possibilities of this pile of clutter, the warm autumn air, new friends new home , the quiet sound of leaves falling, my boyfriends German Shepard’s head tilt

  • Reply Jen Pastiloff’s London Adventures. – The Manifest-Station December 18, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    […] lecture about my 5 most beautiful things project in all my workshops and retreats, but I’d kind of fallen off the wagon of writing them down […]

  • Reply SArah Cleveland January 26, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Love this!! 1. my rescue dog curled up against my legs 2. my loving, patient fiance nearby 3. warmth 4. music playing and resonating with how I am feeling (makes me feel like ‘someone gets me!’) 5. snow falling outside = snow day tomorrow

  • Reply April Baiella @ Infinite Yoga February 18, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Thank you for this great article! I gave a friend who had pancreatic cancer a gratitude journal. She ended not being able to write much, but after she passed, her ex-husband gave it back to me. I continued on the practice by writing everything I’m grateful for and the more I write, the more I think of. There is so much beauty in the world and the more we look, the more we see.

  • Reply MissyHartin June 22, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    The triune God, who loves us all more than our minds can imagine; the indomitability of the human spirit; delicious books and all the wonderful words in them; hope and faith; my beautiful four daughters, as unique as the four seasons, and as awe-inspiring; and ONE MORE!! Winter

  • Reply Cat March 12, 2016 at 4:50 am

    1) The battered old palm tree that is at the front of my rented city flat, when it’s windy or raining I close my eyes, listen and feel like i’m somewhere tropical! 2) The cup of tea in front of me, and the feeling of having a full belly after making a lovely breakfast. 3) The first sign of spring sunshine through the window. 4) Some books by John O’Donohue which I know i’ll keep forever. 5) the sound of my partner tinkering with his bike, knowing that he is doing something he loves.

  • Reply Dawn Shea May 9, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    My precious pup watching me from her resting place on the sofa, the ever expanding pregnant belly that reminds me the sacred gift of motherhood that I have long desired is here and growing with intensity and lessons each day, a best friend-partner-lover-husband who is every bit of my dream-fulfiller as I imagined in my wildest imagination, a mother and new step dad who had the faith to find the greatest loving companionship of their lives beyond age 50 (it’s never too late!), and the fresh green accompanied by the gift of spring aroma wafting through the windows.

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