Rhett Diessner is Professor of Psychology at Lewis-Clark State College; he has been elected “Outstanding Academic Instructor” by the ASB at LCSC sixteen times in the last 25 years; and was selected “2005 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Idaho Professor of the Year.” He earned his doctorate in human development from Harvard University under Lawrence Kohlberg. His masters in educational psychology, and bachelors in physiological psychology, are from the University of Oregon. His current research interest is engagement with natural, artistic and moral beauty. Rhett is very passionate about the importance of beauty in the good life. Engagement with natural beauty uplifts our spirit, and many studies show that is not only brings us peace, but increases our cognitive abilities — in other words — makes us smarter. When we feel the beauty of nature, we are much less likely to tolerate pollution and damage to our “mother.” Engagement with the beauty of the human made world, ranging from music, to painting, to architecture, is related to being a grateful and loving person. But most important is engagement with moral beauty, or what could be called inner beauty. When we notice the inner beauty of those around us it causes a cascade of changes in our brain, and elicits the prosocial emotion called “elevation.” When we feel elevated we are then more likely to make efforts to become a better person, and as several recently published studies show, we are more likely to serve and help others. In Rhett’s most recently published research paper he and his colleagues demonstrated that “beauty is the object of love,” that is, by being engaged with the inner beauty of others, we are more likely to be benevolent, empathic, caring, and express universal agapic love.
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