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Nice Attitude:
Show Off Your Inner Beauty and Spread Smiles

It's a secret that the magazines and TV shows don't want you to know, but hey, I'm not bound by the strictures of selling. I'm a lot more interested in seeing women access real beauty, the kind that doesn't wrinkle with age or evaporate in harsh light. Fact is, the most beautiful women in the world are the ones who know the secret and who use it before ever applying moisturizer. Have you ever noticed that, some days it's easy to look beautiful, and other days, with the same clothes, the same makeup, the same face, it's just plain impossible? Do you ever feel like your face changes drastically and mystically, from day to day? Why does beauty abandon us without warning some days and then spring forth others?

The #1 beauty secret....Lasting beauty isn't physical

Real beauty comes from attitude. With the right attitude, beauty is inevitable; without the attitude, all the cosmetics in the world can't create beauty. When we buy cosmetics or clothes, we hope to buy the things that go along with them in the ads: confidence, poise, style. But those things don't actually come in the package: they come from inside.

So what is the secret to achieving real beauty, not the kind that changes day to day, but the kind that stays with you all your life?

I think the secret is simple: make your whole life as good as it can be. Start beautifying your inside and worry about the outside later.

Find Activities that Bring You Joy and Passion

Finding something you love to do is a good start to increasing the moments of joy in your life, and your passion for living. Today's pace of life prevents too many people from finding what they love to do because they feel so tired. But when you give in to the urge to take photographs or make your own clothes or do woodworking, or become a first-class baker, you're giving yourself a gift. It takes energy, but it also creates energy in the passion you find for a new activity. You may or may not be able to change careers, but doing something you love even as a hobby brightens you up. You'll look forward to getting up in the morning, you'll feel more interested and alive, and other people will be drawn to your energy. If schools really wanted to increase the quality of kids' lives, there would be a place in the curriculum for finding things you love to do and working at them, attaining a level of expertise that lets you express your creativity. As adults, we can re-educate ourselves about joy and passion by skipping the night class in business management and studying sculpture instead.

Kindness: Show Others Your Inner Beauty

People remember striking physical beauty, but people appreciate kindness. Stress is one of the killers of kindness: when we feel pressured, we tend to pull away from others in a misguided attempt to save ourselves from more pain. In fact, this protective measure is exactly the opposite of what we need to do to reduce stress. When you reach out to people, it invariably makes you feel good. You don't read much about kindness these days, and it's a real shame, because it's one of the few things that really count.

Kindness can take so many forms, it's hard to know where to start in describing it. Sometimes being kind just means not pressing an advantage when you could. Letting someone in front of you at the supermarket is a small gift: so is taking a minute to talk to someone who's sad. Kindness is more than doing things for other people, though. When you're kind to someone, you are stretching a set of mental or spiritual muscles, growing your own capacity for compassion. It’s a no-lose proposition.

Mental Health is Just as Important as Physical Health

Physical health is often expressed in glowing skin, bright eyes and a toned-up body. Mental health is an important component of physical health, because your mind and your body are inextricably linked. (Western medicine is still grappling with this mystery, but we don't need to.) Your mental health rests on your ability to be happy, on your having harmonious relationships and on your capacity for creative self-expression. There might be a few other things, but I think these are the most important ones.

If you're dealing with anxiety, depression or relationship problems, your quality of life will suffer until something can be done to change what ails you. There are a variety of ways to reduce mental suffering, and I'll name a few, but they all rely on your being willing and able to get help, and to try more than one method if the first one doesn't work. Making a commitment to your own peace of mind is the first step in changing your life for the better.

Some problems really can be alleviated with medications. A few problems can only be addressed with medications, so if you suffer from bipolar disorder, clinical depression, schizophrenia or debilitating anxiety, the chemical solution may be the best first step. If depression or anxiety has an underlying mind-based cause, such as traumatic memory or a recent loss, medication may relieve enough of the highly distressing symptoms to make it easier to get to therapy.

A good therapist can help you work through things that are keeping you stuck, and can be an excellent ally when you have problems with relationships or career issues. Working with a therapist is a good way to check out your beliefs about the world and about people, and to make changes in behavior and thought patterns that may be making you unhappy.

A vital part of mental health, spiritual health is infrequently addressed by doctors and therapists. Ignoring your need for quiet, for peaceful meditation, for pondering life's mysteries depletes your consciousness and impacts your mental health by increasing stress. Whether you believe in a particular religion or not, taking the time to consider and meet your spiritual needs is an important part of keeping your overall health.

Have Courage to Take Charge and Responsibility

Jean-Paul Sartre pointed out that you can't have true freedom without taking responsibility for your actions. In general, the existentialists turned out to be a pretty optimistic bunch, since they primarily opted to live after deciding that life is intrinsically meaningless. Great minds have said that the only thing that makes life meaningful is to live as though you have purpose, and (having a great mind of my own), I'm inclined to agree.

In the same way that it takes courage to keep plugging away at creating a meaningful life despite life's setbacks and intellectual red-herrings, working on your inner beauty takes some nerve. It's more difficult to build character than it is to get glossy hair, and there are no guarantees that building character makes life any easier or more pleasant. Courage (from the French word for "heart") means being willing take important risks. The risk is that inner beauty will, in the end matter more than outer beauty. I think it's a good risk, don’t you?

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