“You are beautiful no matter what they say. Words can’t bring you down, no, no. Cause you are beautiful in every single way. Yes words can’t bring you down.” ~lyrics from ‘Beautiful’ by Christina Aguilera
(Note: Men, please share this with the women in your life.)
It’s hard to be beautiful — and even harder to feel beautiful.
The current media ideal for womenís overall appearance is achievable by less than 2% of the female population. But we are bombarded with this unrealistic ideal.
Young women today see more images of exceptionally beautiful women in one day than our mothers saw throughout their entire teenage years. It’s no wonder that 8 out of 10 women are dissatisfied with their appearance.
The standards of female beauty have become progressively more unrealistic and unattainable. We need full-time hairdressers, make-up artists, physical trainers, and dietitians just to attempt to keep up.
The truth is that most of us aren’t “beautiful” by the current media standards of beauty. And even models and actresses are outed as less than perfect when they are caught in their natural state by lurking tabloid photographers. Maintaining that standard of perfection must be exhausting and humiliating.
Even though we know this standard of beauty is unrealistic and unattainable, most of us spend far to much time, emotional energy, and money attempting to keep up. It doesn’t matter whether you are young with enviable skin and a tight butt or beginning to see gray hairs and wrinkles, you probably focus far more on your perceived flaws than you do on any aspect of your true beauty.
Although physical attractiveness can help you get a foot in the door, it has very little to do with sustaining relationships and even less with developing real self-confidence. We’ve all seen beautiful people who open their mouths and become instantly less attractive, or unattractive people who become more and more appealing because they exude something special.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to wave a magic wand and eliminate all of the insecurities and self-loathing that is wrapped up in the struggle for beauty? What if you could just walk away from it all and just live your life focused on what makes you joyful and confident?
With practice, this can be done! For those of us in the 99% who will never make it on the pages of a magazine, we can feel absolutely beautiful by shifting our actions and attitude.
Here are 36 ways to start feeling absolutely beautiful right now:
1. Smile. It lights up your face. It triggers happiness in your brain. It makes others feel happy.
2. Remember your posture. Stand up straight. Hold your head high. Throw those shoulders back. You look confident, energetic, amazing!
3. Focus on the best not the worst. Stop staring at the wrinkle or the bulge. Quit comparing yourself to Patty Perfect. Let your “worst” features recede and focus on your best instead. You have far more beautiful features than you see!
4. Be amazed at the wonder of your body. No matter your size, shape, or age, your body is a miraculous temple. Observe how wondrously it operates to house the beautiful person you are.
5. Appreciate your flaws. You are part of the Great Community of Flawed Persons. Welcome to the club. So embrace your flaws as a reminder of your connection to humanity. Flawed is the new perfect.
6. Be expressive. When you are animated and expressive, the fullness of your personality shines through. What could be more beautiful?
7. Get excited. Allow yourself to be enthusiastic and excited about life. Don’t let your concerns about appearance hold you back from embracing the beauty of living. It will reflect back on you!
8. Break a sweat. Get some exercise. Put on that lovely spandex and move your beautiful body. Get an endorphin high. Let your hair get sweaty and greasy. Through the sweat you are shining like star!
9. Practice beautiful movement. Try ballet, tai chi, yoga or some other movement that is fluid and allows your body to respond in beautiful new ways.
10. Acknowledge your inner beauty. Get pen and paper and write down all of the beauty that you do, that you give, that you create, and that you are. You are a powerhouse of beauty.
11. Show kindness. A kind person is exquisite in their beauty. It shines from them like a beacon of hope and peace.
12. Don’t try too hard. Don’t overdo it with make-up or clothes. Don’t spend thousands getting surgery. Don’t exercise yourself to death. When you try too hard, you look desperate. It’s hard to feel beautiful when you feel desperate.
13. Don’t act your age. Your age doesn’t define you or your capacity for beauty. In fact, age ripens you and provides a lushness to your bad, beautiful self! Live the age you feel.
14. Create something. Creativity is the handmaiden of beauty. Creativity is beauty expressing itself through you. Paint, write, garden, scult, cook, sew, decorate — be creative and you will feel beauty spilling out of every pore.
15. Inspire others. As the poet Rumi writes, “Let the beauty we love be what we do.” Do beautiful things. Live beauty. Be beauty. You will inspire others through your beauty.
16. Stop your thoughts. It’s hard to feel beautiful when your brain is whirring away like a ticker tape with negative thoughts about your appearance or age. When you are trapped in those thoughts, stop yourself and redirect your thinking.
17. See yourself through the eyes of a loved one. View yourself the way those dearest to you see you. Offer yourself the love they offer you. Feel the beauty they feel around you.
18. Connect with the beauty of nature. You are part of the natural world in all of its infinite glory and seasonal changes. As you experience nature, become aware of your connection to the beauty around you.
19. Listen to beautiful music. Certain music speaks to your soul. It touches and enlivens the most spiritual and beautiful parts of ourselves. Listen to Brandenburg Concertos #5 by Bach to feel your beauty come alive.
20. Make love. No explanation needed.
21. Wear clothes well. If you aren’t a natural at dressing to suit your body type, age, and coloring, find someone to help you find clothing highlight the beauty inside of you.
22. Hug often. Share loving physical touch with friends and family. It’s a beautiful thing!
23. Get enough sleep. You know what lack of sleep does to your appearance, not to mention your mental health. A good night’s sleep is a mini facelift!
24. Dance. Dance alone. Dance with a partner. Dance like no one is watching. Dancing makes you feel like a beautiful child, carefree and happy.
25. Update your make-up. Make sure your make-up doesn’t look dated, too heavy, or just wrong. Sometimes we get stuck in make-up ruts. An new look can highlight your most beautiful features.
26. Have a beautiful mind. Don’t corrupt your mind with ugly thoughts about yourself or others. Don’t dwell on unpleasant things. Don’t watch violence or negative programs or movies. Fill your thoughts with loveliness.
27. Stop smoking. It ages your skin, it smells bad, it’s bad for you, and it doesn’t reflect self-love. Dropping this bad habit will instantly make you feel more beautiful.
28. Be outgoing, even if it’s hard. Initiate conversations. Show interest in people. Make introductions. Smile. Bridging the gap between stranger and friend feels beautiful.
29. Do physical work. If you have a desk job, sometimes you miss the beauty of a task completed with the physical evidence of your accomplishment. Do something physical like washing the car, raking leaves, gardening, etc. to see the fruits of your labor. Moving, working, accomplishing — that feels beautiful!
30. Take care of your teeth. Since you are now smiling often, you want your teeth to look their pearly best. White, clean teeth make you look ten years younger. Plus, it’s hard to smile if you are embarrassed about your teeth.
31. Create beauty around you. Let your surroundings reflect the beauty inside of you. Remove clutter. Clean windows. Add flowers. Let your home be filled with your beauty.
32. Cook a beautiful meal. Well-prepared, healthy, and delicious food prepared by loving hands is beauty for the mouth and the soul.
33. Reduce stress. Anxiety, a furrowed brow, a tense frown, hunched shoulders are all the physical manifestations of stress. Find the cause of your stress and do something to relieve it. Shine the light of your beauty on the situation. It might dissolve.
34. Exude self-confidence. Show the world that you know you are beautiful where it counts. Your self-confidence rises in direct proportion to your self-acceptance. Love the unique and beautiful person you are and share that with the world.
35. Dress up. Life has gotten increasingly casual. Dress up on occasion. In fact, be the best dressed person in the room. Wear red! Turn a few heads.
36. Express gratitude. Be grateful for everything you are and everything you have. The handful of complaints you have about your appearance is nothing compared to the cornucopia of blessings that surround you. Bathe in the beauty of your blessings, and it will transform you from the inside out.
Barrie Davenport is a personal and career coach and the founder of Live Bold and Bloom, a blog about fearless personal growth. She is the author of the free guide 7 Key Ingredients to a Meaningful Life.
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Photo credit: Carol Richardson Marty