Growing up my mother used to say, “Outer beauty is skin deep, have a good belly ache and it’s gone. You don’t care how you look, all you want is to feel better.”
At the time, I did not really pay attention to what my mother was saying or even understood. When you’re young, it’s “here she goes again” but over the years, many of what my mom said comes back to me and I even find myself repeating them. What can I say, “I have turned into my mother.”
But on a more serious note, recently, I was forced to answer the question, “What makes you feel beautiful?” and it got me thinking, what is inner beauty?
In our culture, we are conditioned to focus on outer beauty despite the fact that many of us don’t meet the supermodel beauty standards. We talk about inner beauty a lot but do we really use it as a criterion to define beauty? This is a rhetorical question.
So… what is inner beauty? I did a lot of research and this is what I found:
- Your self-esteem, attitude, sense of purpose, love for others and compassion.(Eva Ritvo, M.D. – Psychology Today)
- Confidence, flexibility, a radiant smile, focusing on what you have, not on what you don’t (Vivian Diller, Ph.D. – Psychology Today)
- Your unique light is your greatest asset and your unique definition. It is what makes you spark and most importantly, it already sits within you. Some cultures refer to it as your ‘hara’ – your center or your spirit. I refer to it as your blueprint; it encompasses your qualities as a “whole” – your personality, your physiology and your presence. Everything about you exists for a reason and together they unite to reflect a clear and intended picture that exists for a specific purpose. (Sarah Whittaker – Self Growth.com)
In my humble opinion, the latter by Sarah Whittaker comes closest to defining inner beauty because it’s all-encompassing. It’s your signature and no two people have the same one. The problem I have with the others is that self-esteem, sense of purpose, radiant smile are not constant. There are days when my confidence is shot, I don’t feel like smiling and I don’t and I question my purpose. Does my inner beauty diminish on those days? What do you think?
I also feel that some of the very things that we don’t like about our self are what make us beautiful. For instance, I disliked that I am an introvert. Honestly, I still struggle with it because sometimes people see it as a sign of weakness. But, I have been working on embracing this part of me. For instance, I have come to realize that being quiet allows me to observe and get a better understanding, which is an asset. People also seem to trust me because they know what they share is not going anywhere. It also makes people curious because they don’t know what I’m thinking.
By the way my fellow introverts, there is an excellent book, Quiet, by Susan Cain on the topic that I strongly recommend.
Well, earlier I mentioned that I had to answer the question – “What makes me feel beautiful?” This is what I wrote:
I feel most beautiful when I am in harmony, that is, have an inner peace. The following are just a few of the things that help me to get into that space (they are not in order of priority). I feel beautiful when:
- I am helping others, especially when I do coaching.
- I figure out another piece of the “Faith Puzzle;” that is, have what Oprah calls her “aha moment” as it relates to figuring me out.
- I see or think about my children – Daniel and Ashley. The greatest gifts I have ever been given.
- I reflect over my life and realize how God has been good to me. This is the greatest love that has been bestowed upon me. He knows it ALL but He still has my back!
- I am writing! Sharing my inner thoughts.
- Driving and listening to a book on CD (especially a James Patterson Alex Cross book).
- Walking along the towpath at Colonial Park on a nice day. Just being among nature.
- Socializing with my family or friends.
Now, it’s your turn!
- How do you define inner beauty?
- What makes you feel beautiful?
- Do you think that inner beauty is really used as an indicator of true beauty?