In this consumerist culture that we inhabit, looking good is mostly about working on our external selves – contouring our faces and other body parts using cosmetics or surgery or even turning to botox in some cases. While there is nothing wrong with that as such, looking good is about feeling good more than anything else and feeling good is mostly an internal phenomenon. If we feel good from the inside, if we’re happy and confident on the inside, it will reflect on our faces, our bodies, our moods.
However, feeling good from the inside can require a lot of self-work and our constant evolution is the most important task that we undertake. It requires courage, it requires commitment and it requires a lot of self-love. It requires us to build the muscle to be present to our thoughts, feelings and emotions at any given point, without judgment, and with kindness. And then, to address those emotions instead of suppressing them or denying them. When we become aware of our trigger points and our behavioral responses to them, we develop self-awareness. Self-awareness can be our biggest self-defense tool, even helping us use our emotions to our advantage.
How then, do we begin to embark on this journey of being more present in our lives and aligned with our most authentic selves? It starts with a ‘self-care’ mindset and I would like to emphasize here that self-care is not selfish. At all. In fact, it is the kindest gesture we could ever show to ourselves. For starters, engaging in and making time for some activity that we truly enjoy is a good beginning. It could be anything – playing football, dancing, baking, rock climbing, composing music, learning to play an instrument – just about anything that makes us come alive. When we’re able to make the time for what brings us joy, we make ourselves and our happiness a priority.
You see, others treat us the way they see us treating ourselves. When we prioritize our happiness, we send across the message to those around us that we value and care for ourselves. Besides, we begin to radiate that positivity to others around us who might get inspired to choose the same for themselves.
Developing a habit of acknowledging all our efforts and accomplishments, even the seemingly smallest ones is another great way forward towards feeling joyful and fulfilled. It may so happen that our efforts in a particular endeavor do not manifest into an expected accomplishment. However, acknowledging that we did make that effort, without being hard on ourselves about unfavorable results, gets us out of the mode of self-judgment and not feeling ‘good enough’ to a mode of self-appreciation. If we allow ourselves not to be vested in the outcome and instead just focus on giving our best, not only are we able to enjoy the process more, but also experience an unparalleled state of ‘peace of mind.’
Keep a journal where at the end of each day, you make a list of your ‘activities’ from the day, no matter how seemingly insignificant, as a way to acknowledge all that you’re creating in your life. That meeting you attended, the new project you bagged, that date you initiated and followed through, the physical workout you engaged in, the stimulating conversation you had, that live music night you attended – these are all ‘accomplishments,’ even though they may not appear to be so. These choices are shaping you into the person you’re becoming and the more you choose things in alignment with who you are, the more joy you receive from them.
As we continue to choose for ourselves, we experience greater levels of happiness. We have exuberant smiles, glowing skin, love-filled hearts, playful aura – we feel beautiful from within. When we feel beautiful from within, the cosmetics we use on the outside are but add-ons and we do not have to rely on them to feel more confident and attractive. We’re filled with love for ourselves and are able to radiate it out to everyone around us. Looking good, then, is more of an inside-out job than an outside-in job.
Shaira Chaudhry is a wellness facilitator. An alumnus of Soka University of America with a degree in Social and Behavioural Sciences, her training and education in behavioural psychology and further studies of the healing/consciousness modalities such as Reiki, Access Consciousness, Neuro Linguistic Programming and Louise Hay’s ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ work make workshops on mental and emotional well being, her forte.