Inner Beauty is the collection of emotional, intellectual and spiritual qualities that radiate from within a woman who loves who she is and her place in the world.
Self-esteem, gratitude, confidence, wit, passion, caring, intelligence, the ability to perceive beauty in others—these are all vital components of a strong inner beauty.
All true beauty begins here; if you doubt this, think of women you have known who were physically attractive but repelled others with negative thinking, thoughtless actions or a victim mentality. We are creatures of the mind as well as the body, and beauty starts with the mind.
So if your goal is to be as beautiful as you can possibly be (and why would you desire anything less?), your first step, before you head to the gym or to your stylist’s chair, should be to examine the state of your inner beauty and take healthy, positive steps to enhance it. Here are some wonderful ideas for becoming more radiant from the inside out:
• Deliberately express more positive ideas. In an interview in The Sun, psychologist Barbara Fredrickson said that her extensive research into positive emotions shows that consciously expressing an increased ratio of positive to negative emotions—which might mean letting a child’s impulses wind toward their conclusion rather than always saying “No”—actually helps people function better, have healthier relationships and be more satisfied with their lives.
• Get into nature. Research has shown that people who exercise in natural settings as opposed to health clubs get better results and enjoy their workouts more. Why? We’re part of nature; it speaks to something ineffable and essential in us. Spend time walking in woods, gathering driftwood at the beach or watching a sunset. You’ll find your blood pressure dropping and your outlook improving.
• Be mindful. Mindfulness means pulling your mind out of the 24/7 stream of what you have to do next and being in the present moment. We tend to exist in anticipation of future events but when we do, we miss the wonder of what’s happening now: a child’s voice, a crisp apple, a moment that has never come before and will never return. Mindfulness breeds gratitude, one of the most beautiful states of mind you can cultivate.
• Practice seeing beauty around you. You can find beauty everywhere: in the faces of the elderly, the patterns in a spider web or the poetry in a friend’s voice mail message. Teach yourself to find beauty wherever you look.
Developing your Inner Beauty takes as much commitment as developing your muscles, but it’s even more rewarding.
Eva Ritvo, MD, is Associate Professor and Vice Chairman at the Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Mount Sinai Medical Center. She is co-author of The Beauty Prescription (Contemporary,