3 Ways Focusing on Inner Beauty is Healthy For Your Heart

by: Zera McMahon

After battling with an eating disorder for several years I’ve learned how giving more attention to one’s own inner beauty is healthy for the human heart in several ways. Here are three main ways you’ll benefit from giving more attention to your inner beauty instead of focusing on the way you look.

1) Inner beauty is not only nurturing for your own heart, but for the hearts of others as well.

I have always felt that the two {inner beauty & the heart} are largely connected; perhaps a direct reflection of the other. One of the greatest ways to delight an empty heart or soul is with acts of gentleness
and love. Help yourself by helping other people, and be instantly rewarded with an immense sense of gratification and love. Your inner beauty will flourish with selfless acts of kindness, as this is one of the best ways to pass the love around and welcome it back with an open heart.

Within the last year, Iʼve made it a habit of reaching out to complete strangers by involving them in conversation. For example…a couple of weeks ago I was in HomeDepot trying to get a swatch of paint matched for our living room. It was late in the evening, and the lady who was helping me behind the counter was exhausted and just being a total grouch. As much as I wanted to walk away from her negative attitude, Idecided to talk to her anyway and ignore the menacing glances she was giving me. So, I set a mental challenge for myself and made it my goal to lighten her mood. I began asking her questions pertaining to work and showed compassion for all of the un-paid overtime she was putting in. Before I knew it, we were sharing stories about our families, the holiday season, and even exchanging tips on our favorite nail polishes, etc.

My plan had worked! Just from acknowledging this individual whom I had never met before and by striking up a conversation, I was able to help give her laughter and enjoyment, and improve her overall state of mind.

Not only did this lady walk away with a smile on her face, but so did I. Lets face it, the last thing I wanted to be doing at 10pm was hanging out in Home Depotʼs paint department. This challenge I set for myself gave me almost instant happiness and fulfillment. It feels incredible to have such a positive impact on another individual!

Too often we obsess about our own physical beauty, and critically measure our “beauty”against other women. The mainstream media is constantly trying to sell us illusions of the “perfect body” and lifestyle that we can achieve only if purchasing their products.

They really think we can be fooled, but I know that as women we are stronger and capable of more. We donʼt need to strive for a perfect body or prettier face. When we do this, we are not truly in touch with our inner beauty. What we genuinely need is each other. Coming together peacefully with open hearts, appreciating others (and ourselves) for more than physical appearances; that is when we create and promote inner beauty that is infectious.

The media is failing to communicate the importance of nourishing the authentic self. Instead of measuring our self worth on physical traits, genuine self worth is measured from the inside out. When you cherish and manifest your inner beauty, your physical appearance is sure to be positively influenced when your heart radiates from within.

2) You’ll discover your inspiration & creativity…

When we realize and cherish our inner beauty, we are consciously granting ourselves the permission to be open and accepting to the beauty and talents around us.

Speaking from experience, I understand that the search for that “magical something” to ignite our inspiration is not always so simple. When I find myself in a mental slump, it can be really tough to pull myself out of it. One thing I have learned though, is that the inspiration I crave will always emerge when I least expect it. This sometimes take days to happen, but when it does I am shaken out of my slump and my spirit is instantly lifted and renewed with a sense of hope.

Sometimes, deviating from my typical routine can help ʻcureʼ me of the blues. Itʼs so easy to get ourselves caught in routine, stuck in the same motions day after day. I have to almost force myself out of it at times. What I like to do when this happens is to go somewhere ʻspur-of-the-momentʼ; somewhere I donʼt typically make the time to visit. I like to call these, ʻmini adventure daysʼ. This can be anything from checking out a museum downtown, taking a walk around a nature preserve to feed the ducks, treating myself to a movie (by myself), or indulging in an Oreo blizzard from Dairy Queen. These things may seem a little ridiculous, but itʼs what helps me to get outside of myself and the destructive thinking patterns.

Inspiration stimulates our heart and soul. It can be that mini miracle we need to get us back on track to creating opportunities and realizing our dreams.

3) It builds a beautiful and healthy life…

Its been said that positive attracts positive, and negative attracts negative. The same goes for people holding onto positive and negative thoughts. I am a total believer in this theory, and I have applied it as a general rule to my life, involving the people I surround myself with.

Have you ever felt completely empowered and delighted by something, only to then have that excitement be ripped away from you by someone with a negative mindset? I have definitely experienced this, and at times would find myself powerless and unable to shed myself of those negative feelings.

This is not only counteractive to strengthen your confidence and inner beauty ʻpowerhouseʼ, but is also very toxicant. After feeling depleted time and again from seeking outside approval, I decided that this
was not how I wanted to live my life and I was done with it.

This realization became my fundamental building blocks for a powerful inner beauty. Through this change in my thought process, I was able to create a mental barrier against negative energies that had previously blocked my inspiration and happiness. I made the conscious decision to choose my happiness and health, and to live my life through an authentic, and beautiful inner soul.

I donʼt believe we were intended to live our lives carelessly at the expense of others. Rather, I believe we have been gifted a heart and soul to nurture and love so that we can fulfill a truly gratifying existence.

Tip to block out the negative vibes:

Creating a mental bubble around myself is the easiest way for me to create an impervious blockade against negative vibes that are bound and determined to lower my positive energy. By establishing this kind of forcefield, you are preparing yourself to confront negativity without allowing your inner peace to be sacrificed in the process.

There is a beautiful quote by Audrie Hepburn that Iʼd like to share. Itʼs incredibly inspiring and respectful, and I feel that it reflects the pursuit of inner beauty quite perfectly….

‘For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day. People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed. Never throw out anybody. The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows.’ – Audrie Hepburn

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How To Have Happy Holidays When You’re Sad

by: Alicia M. Blanco

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I’ve been receiving several messages lately from people who want to know how I stay so happy during this time of year. It’s supposed to be a season of celebration and joy but in reality, it’s a season of heightened depression for many.

At first I was confused how anyone could RESIST happiness during this time of year because Christmas (and this entire season in general) is when I’m in total bliss. I’m like a big kid; I’ve had my Michael Buble Christmas CD playing in my car since October (I know…), I get giddy when the mall starts to decorate and set up for Santa, and even though I don’t drink coffee, I get excited knowing Starbucks is in the season of their famous red cups and holiday themed drinks. I can go on and on but I think you get it- I am obsessed with this time of year. The only thing I find depressing is that I have to wait a whole year for it again as soon as it’s all over.

But as more and more messages came in asking me for advice on how to “endure” the season, I started to really think about why people might feel so anxious or unhappy when the holidays come around.

First off, the media bombardment of smiling family and friends can be overwhelming and annoying.  I get it! Nonstop commercials on TV are showcasing these perfect happy model looking families and groups of good looking friends going shopping and spending money without a care in the world.

While we all know these are entirely staged productions intended to attract consumer spending, some people may start to compare their lives to the lives of others- even more so on social media. They begin to question the relationships in their lives as well as their financial situation. It’s a huge stressor! They also might reflect on another year coming to an end and think about what they DON’T have.

One individual who wrote me said the reason she struggles with staying happy during the holidays is because she never had a father figure in her life and her mother struggled immensely to afford the basic necessities.  She grew up really resenting the process of exchanging gifts and even associates the holidays with guilt for receiving anything.

Its even been said that suicide rates and mood disorders increase in this season due to triggers of loneliness, financial stress, inadequacy, and lack of belonging.  How can we fix this?

If you’re feeling down about the holidays, here are 8 ways I stay happy through them:

1. DON’T COMPARE: I am as guilty as anybody for comparing what I have to what others have, but the less I do this, the happier I am. Keep in mind what you see on TV is not real and what you see on social media is just the same. I came across a great quote the other day – “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” – Steven Furtick – Super true.

2. I CATER TO THE 5 SENSES- I decorate my home beautifully so what I SEE is visually appealing and stimulating. I eat want I want – it’s not bikini season, it’s cookies and milk season! Treat yourself to eating what you know TASTES amazing. You earned it! Also, my home SMELLS like vanilla cookies, cake and pumpkin spice – anything that’s reverent of the season. Next, I almost always have music on that makes me feel good to HEAR. It doesn’t have to be Christmas music, (mine is) but I’m such a lover of music year-round and even fall asleep to a playlist.

3. BE A KID AGAIN- I embrace an intense sense of childlike wonder and dive into the season as if I were a little girl again. In fact, I need to get myself to Disneyland ASAP. Rafael if you’re reading this, let’s go.

4. I strive to make new MEMORIES – this one would be especially helpful for those of you who associate the season with a bad memory. Clean those up and replace them with new and uplifting ones starting today!

5. BUILD TRADITIONS – make those memories you created truly last by establishing them as rock solid TRADITIONS. This should be something you know you’ll eagerly anticipate year round whether it’s shopping for a Christmas tree with your nephew or decorating the house with your boyfriend with your favorite movie on – set something up in stone as “yours” and “ours.” Ever since I was a little girl, all the women in my family get together a week or so before Christmas and make dozens (and dozens) of tamales. We laugh, cry, joke around with each other, have deep conversations, and have mariachi music playing in the background while we work because that’s what my Nana likes – It’s something we all look forward to every year. It’s messy and hilarious. It’s tradition.

6. I’M AROUND THE ONES I LOVE- you really should do this all year round but during this season it’s all the more imperative. My boyfriend and I will be spending two weeks in Arizona in a couple weeks with my family and I couldn’t be more thrilled about that. Being around the ones I love and who love us means the world to me…

7. On that same note, pay attention to people. FOCUS ON OTHERS more than yourself. By now you know I’m a huge advocate of random acts of kindness in hopes that it will impact someone who might be struggling with depression or just having a bad day – so I really step it up even more during this time of year and in return, I’m happier for it.

I find that the less I focus on myself, like what I have or don’t have, and instead use all of that time and energy for others, the happier I am. I have no time to get sad about my circumstances if I’m more focused on improving the circumstances of others. I’m distracted in the best way possible.  I strive to demolish statistics in depression and suicide by being kinder – especially during this time of year when people might need it the most. Try it!

I encourage you to keep in mind that although the year is coming to an end, it’s your opportunity for a new beginning. If you really struggle to embrace the season, ask yourself why. Recognize the root of any issues you are having with this time of year and completely release it all. Give the negativity zero power.

If all else fails, “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear!” Elf is on TV right now as I’m writing this, so I had to do that. Cheesy me!

And I’m taking my puppy Romeo to go visit Santa at the mall this week too… yes I am.

Happy Holidays!