In the movie version of Cinderella, the Prince asks, “Do I love you because you're beautiful, or are you beautiful because I love you?” He continues, “Do I want you because you're wonderful, or are you wonderful because I want you?” Cinderella asked the same of him. Both characters recognized the dimensions of beauty. Aside from what each lover saw when they looked at the other, they saw signs of inner beauty.
Right after the Oscars, beauty is a hot topic, as the stars were on display at their glamorous best with 37 million of us watching the broadcast. The Hollywood brand of glamour has come to help define beauty in our society. Even if you don’t care about movie stars, you may react to how they look. The question is, though, “Is physical beauty enough?”
Without judging anyone who happens to be gorgeous and famous, you may wonder about the truth of the old cliché "beauty is only skin deep.” Do people who are beautiful always exhibit qualities you want to see in your friends or in yourself? Do they live happier lives? Based on the scandals, the divorces, the bad behavior reported in the media, your answer would probably be “no” on both counts.
When we approach the subject of inner beauty, most of us freely admit that externals are not enough. Just because you have a pretty face does not mean you are beautiful on the inside. However, what is internal goes out. A kind person, who is not necessarily beautiful externally, can appear more attractive. An ill-tempered beauty won’t seem kind just because of how she looks!
Fortunately, you don’t have to make a choice between being attractive and being the type of caring, generous, goal directed person you strive to be. Attending to your body and your appearance can actually affect how you feel about yourself. Feeling that you look the best can gives you confidence and self esteem. As you apply the creams and the makeup to enhance your outward appearance, don’t forget to work on your inner qualities.
So, what are the aspects of inner beauty and how do you achieve it?
- First, you need to define the concept. What are the characteristics you want in yourself? You may see your “best you” as non-judgmental, willing to help others, and generous. Or you may value honesty self direction, and enthusiasm. Once you have defined what you value, strive to cultivate those characteristics in yourself so you become more like the person you want to be every day.
- As you are becoming that person, learn to value yourself as someone who is successful. Like yourself. Empower yourself. See your own true beauty. Just like you might look approvingly in the mirror when you know you’re looking good, give yourself permission to acknowledge and embrace your unique beauty.
- As we said before, what’s inside can’t help but come out eventually. Ever try to wear a mask? After a while, your face gets hot and off it comes. It’s hard to project that you are someone you aren’t for very long. While you are working on the good qualities you want to see in yourself, be extra conscious of how you come across to other people. Aim to be a positive force that sees the good in others and acknowledges them, not a naysayer who adds an element of negativity to the room.
- Look for the beauty in others, and whether youthink you see it or not, embrace and promote it. Think back to the Prince and Cinderella. If you believe in the goodness of other people, you can influence them to be better eople. In return, they will seem more beautiful and wonderful.
- As you work on yourself, don’t forget to give back. If you have a spouse and children at home, start the giving there and enjoy it. Reach out and do something for others. Do more than you are paid for at work. Mother Therese may never have won a beauty contest, but she enriched the lives of others.
Developing inner beauty is hard work, but the results are amazing and can enhance external beauty in yourself and in the world around you.