“If I could just change this one thing, I would be so much happier.”
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard this (and, heck, thought this). And, yet, research shows that changing one physical thing about ourselves doesn’t actually equal happiness. While cosmetic surgery patients might be happier with an individual body part post-surgery, that satisfaction doesn’t always translate to a better body image or a happier life. The reality is that happiness is an inside job. Changing your body won’t bring your more smiles and laughter. Changing your mind will. While there are many mindset strategies I like to teach to help people embrace self-acceptance, this little starter kit can help you improve your relationship with yourself.
REALIZE THERE IS NO PERFECT AND NO PERFECT EITHER. Eighty percent of women feel worse about themselves after looking at beauty ads. Yet more than 20 billion dollars is spent a year on beauty ads. Those beauty ads often have a formula: select a model that less than 5% of the world resembles, shot the model with the best make-up, hair, and lighting possible, then alter that photo with editing software to create a literally unreal image to project to women so they feel inadequate and buy the product being sold. But we weren’t designed to look alike. We are each meant for uniqueness, and our uniqueness is neither perfect nor imperfect. We are individualized for a reason and embracing that individuality is really what is beautiful.
DEFINE BEAUTY FOR YOURSELF AND THEN APPLY IT TO YOURSELF. When I was interviewing women for Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina, I asked each one if she was beautiful. Very few said yes. Then I asked each woman how she defined beautiful. They often said strong, passionate, and caring. I would then point out how they had embodied those traits during our interview and they would be so surprised. We define beauty very complexly and apply that definition to the people we love. We then use a completely different definition, one that is perpetuated by the media and not even real, to compare to ourselves. Today, define beauty for yourself and see yourself through that definition.
PRACTICE SELF-CARE. One way you can begin to feel more at peace with yourself is by taking better care of yourself. Do one thing every day, no matter how small, to care for yourself. Common self-care prescription items include making time for exercise (anything from walking to yoga), drinking plenty of water, journaling, meditating, stretching, talking to a friend, reading for pleasure, or getting bodywork like a massage, pedicure or facial.
PLUG INTO YOUR PASSION. We are all here on purpose. Each one of us has a unique role we are meant to play in the world, and it likely has nothing to do with the way we look. What gift are you meant to give the world and in what way? It is close to impossible to care about your frizz or wrinkles when you are engaged in something that gives you meaning. Find what you love and make sure that it is a regular part of your life.
Want to learn even more about self-acceptance and living on purpose? Join me for Passion. Purpose. Peace in May. The early bird special ends on April 15th.