There’s no doubt that we value physical beauty, a fact that is borne out by a total of $62.46 billion in revenue reported last year by the cosmetic industry, up from $40.42 billion in 2002. That’s a lot of effort (and hard-earned money) to make us more beautiful on the outside, but what about the notion of inner beauty? It’s sometimes described as a glow that emanates from someone making them beautiful in a way that is more meaningful than the “skin deep” version of beauty we might find on the cover of a fashion magazine. It also is defined as beauty of the spirit. We all may not have been blessed with perfectly chiseled features, flawless skin and the proportions of a super model, but we all have the capacity to refine elements of our lives that affect how we feel and are perceived on a deeper level. Following are just a few of the things we can do to cultivate the beauty that is within us.
How many times have we heard our moms remind us that doing good has its rewards and doing bad has its consequences? It turns out that she knew what she was talking about. If we want to bring out our inner beauty, there are some behaviors we need to avoid. One of these is gossiping. It’s a habit that is easy to fall into. Whether it’s around the water cooler at work, over a cup of coffee with friends, or on social media, dwelling on rumors and innuendo about others may be a way to feel as though we are on the inside of a group or clique, but putting others down actually does more damage to how we are perceived. When we take the high road and don’t give in to the temptation to dish the dirt, it might be surprising to see how others will see us in a more favorable light.
The present moment is all we really have and it’s within our power to make it the best moment we can. That’s not to say that our past is not an important part of who we are, or that we shouldn’t plan for the future, but obsessing about what came before or what will happen in days to come, can mean that we miss out on the blessings that are right in front of us today. Living in the moment also means that we are fully engaged with those around us and that we are giving them the time and attention they deserve, especially our children. The more we live for the present day, the better we will be at assessing our priorities and taking time for what is really important.
Our spirituality is as personal and unique as our DNA. We all have different ways of worshipping, praying or getting in touch with our higher power. What is most important is that we make time every day to retreat to that place where we can reflect, communicate, listen, and experience the power of our spiritual side and connect with something greater than ourselves. The peace that comes from putting away the cares of the day and shutting out the din of the world to hear the “still small voice within us,” is a peace that we will carry back with us into the rest of day.
Humor, when it isn’t mean or sarcastic, is a lifeline that can pull us out of the most challenging of situations when we let it do it’s magic. Humor eases tension, clears the air and can make friends of strangers. It can even reduce the risk of a heart attack by as much as 40 percent, help the body better process blood sugar and in short can help us live a longer life. When we smile or laugh, we look and feel younger and it’s infectious. We can do ourselves and others a big favor today by simply finding humor in everyday moments.
Nobody has to tell a child to play. It comes naturally – the need to have fun, to explore and to kick up our heels and let go. As adults if we aren’t careful we can get so overwhelmed with our grown up responsibilities that we forget how important it is to make time for fun. Having fun is the human way to let off steam. Without it, those pressures continue to build and can immerge in some serious, sometimes even life-threatening ways if we fail to acknowledge them. It’s time to call on our inner child. He or she is in there somewhere just waiting to come out and encourage us take time to let loose a little – take a merry-go-round ride, visit a water park, fly a kite, go barefoot in the cool grass, play hooky for an afternoon and have a picnic. The fun we have can have a lasting effect on our mood, the sparkle in our eyes and the smile on our faces.
To feel positive about our lives and to exude a positive image we need to surround ourselves with people and influences that are good for us. When we are around a critical, negative person for a while we too can begin to think and react negatively. To feel beautiful inside and out means exposing ourselves to as much positive energy as possible. We can start by avoiding negative conversations, negative people and negative situations; and may require rethinking how we spend our time on social media and in the consumption of news. Too much time focusing on the chaos around the world can bring that chaos to our own doorsteps. When we start to feel overwhelmed by every crisis of the day or scandal of the week, it’s time to unplug and take a walk through the park, breathe the fresh air, smell the flowers and listen to the birds. All we get from worry are worry lines and crows feet.
Ever heard of the “helper’s high.” That’s a way of describing the way one feels when doing something that helps others. Speak to a hardcore volunteer and they can attest to the benefits of giving, not just from the perspective of the benefactor but also for the giver. Helping others takes our minds off our own problems and helps us recognize the positive impact we can have on the lives of others. It doesn’t matter how we give, it only matters that we do it freely without thought of anything we might get in return. It’s been said that one side effect of the helper’s high can be seen on the helper’s face long after the time spent volunteering is over and it looks an awful lot like inner beauty.