Sunday, July 21, 2013

5 Steps to Inner Beauty

5 Steps to Inner Beauty (My Article from Beleza 11/12)

     Ever since man could put his thoughts down on parchment, papyrus, stone, or animal hide, he has sung the praises of beauty. What was true in ancient times is true today, and the myth of what constitutes true beauty eludes us as much as it did our ancestors. So what is beautiful? What is timeless, and what makes a person unforgettable?
     I am not speaking of physical appearance. Outward beauty is an opinion and not meant to arbitrarily blanket a population of varied cultures, races, and diverse individuals with a generic formula for what is pleasing to the eye. All the designer clothes, enticing perfumes, and makeup are not going to change the way you feel about the face you see in the mirror everyday. Real beauty starts on the inside.
     The essence of inner beauty begins with confidence. What is confidence? Have you ever watched someone walk across a room at a party or business meeting, and your eyes are drawn to them like a hypnotic beam of sunlight undulating on a dark ocean? They move with an uncanny grace and wear a haunting smile. You have just witnessed the effect of confidence. More intoxicating than a shot of tequila and able to take out a Wall Street tycoon with a single wink, confidence is the powerful light that makes beauty blinding.  
     How exactly do you nurture confidence? We all know confidence is not something one is born with, and in our cynical world it is becoming a much more difficult commodity to acquire. But, with a little effort, you can strengthen your confidence. Let’s begin by looking at five steps that can help your true beauty flourish.
     Step one: Explore the inner workings of you. What appeals to you about you? No one has seen the world, experienced life, or lived quite like you. You are unique. Too often we try emulating everyone else, and what we end up becoming is unhappy. Those who have learned to embrace their individuality have cultivated those qualities that make them unique, and as a result, they are the happy ones. Happiness helps to amplify beauty. When we feel good about ourselves, it shows. So grab on to those qualities you love about yourself and rejoice in them.
     What about the qualities you are not so crazy about? You must be willing to accept the whole you, flaws and all. No diamond is without a few imperfections. It is your flaws that make you who you are. Those quirky characteristics that cause you to cringe are parts of your personality, and somewhere in the cosmos you were deemed strong enough to handle those pesky shortcomings. So pat yourself on the back. Your imperfections are a gift because they have made you stronger and better on the inside than you could have ever thought possible. Never waste your time wondering why you have been given such flaws. EVERYONE has them! No one has a perfect life, a perfect body, or a perfect mind. So do not envy what does not exist.
     If there are things about you that you absolutely have to change, then change them. Do, build, educate, or be whatever it is that makes you feel the best about you. Learning to enrich what you are will invariably lead to a better feeling about who you are. Further your education, learn a new skill, accomplish a goal, or conquer a bad habit, overcome any obstacle that is keeping you from feeling the best about who you are. Many times it isn’t the newly acquired degree or skill that empowers us, but the act of overcoming the hurdles in order to attain a long-desired goal that builds confidence.
     Step two: Assess your environment. Being in a situation that takes away from your inner sense of confidence can be just as debilitating as having no confidence at all. Find people who share similar interests. Pursue a job or career in a place that will help bolster you and not tear you down. Build relationships that are positive and uplifting. Learning to avoid situations and people who are detrimental to your inner beauty can be very important. When you find yourself surrounded by individuals who are negative or a work situation or home life that eats away at your steadfast belief in yourself, then walk away. Stress comes from living a life that is incompatible with your inner workings. Stress is bad for your health and painful, so remove from your life those stressors that you can control and you will immediately feel your confidence gaining ground.
     Step three: Learn to be receptive to new experiences. Any and all experiences are great confidence builders. Take friends up on offers to go places you would never have thought of visiting in the past, or accept invitations to see new or unusual surroundings. But you do not have to wait for others to take you to places you have never been. Set out on your own to tackle such exploits. Dine at a restaurant alone or go to a movie by yourself and see how much more confident you feel after such a feat. Sometimes it is the simple act of overcoming a place or situation that we fear that can be the most rewarding. And it makes no difference if the experience is good or bad, they can all help you to grow and build your confidence. Look at every experience as a new adventure and revel in what you learn about yourself along the way. Do not hesitate to accept every chance to expand your horizons. You never know where each opportunity may take you.  
     Step four: Be willing to reinvent yourself. We are dynamic individuals whose bodies and minds change with the passing of time. No one likes change, but you must accept the fact that nothing stays the same. Realize that all you have is this moment, and once it is gone, it can never be recaptured. Know you are not going to be the same person you were in your twenties as you are in your thirties. How you see yourself will vary as you live your life, encounter new experiences, and grow as a person. At this moment you may be a hard-working career girl with no time for a social life. But in ten years you may be a wife and mother, and your inner confidence will change as your definition of who you are changes. Be mindful of those life events and be willing to re-evaluate what makes you confident and beautiful at every stage of your life.
     Step five: Be able to laugh at yourself. Laughter really can heal, and wherever there is laughter, there is optimism. When you stand in front of the mirror getting ready for that next big business meeting, date, or social gathering, look at your reflection and laugh. There is nothing more confident than to be able to laugh at yourself. Individuals who approach life with a tongue-in-cheek attitude will eventually be the ones to whom everyone migrates. So the next time you walk across a crowded room, remember laughing at yourself in the mirror and let that sly smile settle across your lips. You will notice then that people will be looking at you and wondering what makes you so confident. Just keep them guessing and always remember you are alive, you are here, and you are beautiful.



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