Beauty and Happiness

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself “-Thich Nhat Hanh

I saw this phrase the other day and it really struck a chord in me about my happiness project. One of my basic things to remember during January and February is to “Be Authentic”. The problem with that, being authentic for me isn’t knowing who I am. Many people struggle with their personal definition, goals, passions etc. That is something I have securely in my brain; my issue is execution. I spend so much of my life trying to do for others, which is a huge part of who I truly am, but often it’s seeking acceptance or worse yet, approval.
As children, we are all afflicted with the need and desire to please and be accepted by our parents. We want them to be proud of us, to appreciate us. and give us praise. Because I spend so much time, energy, and often money doing everything I can and then some for others, I seek that approval from more or less, everyone.
How does this relate to beauty, you ask? Well, it relates in that approval and acceptance are relevant to every part of ourselves. If someone tells you over and over again that you’re an amazing athlete, you often FEEL like an amazing athlete. If you hear that you’re beautiful constantly, even if you don’t see yourself as beautiful, you nevertheless carry yourself with more confidence. But at the same time, seeking praise from outside sources makes you feel good only temporarily. And if you’re in a profession that relies on the praise of others or on physical beauty, you’re often more stressed out, overly concerned with vanity and generally exude the feelings of unrest, strife and unhappiness.

Unhappiness is like a perfume, the more you feel it, the more others can “smell” it on you. You may be cool, calm, and collected…. but you reek of misery. That’s where this quote comes in: You have to be accepting of yourself, without the acceptance of others. That is true, inner beauty.  Look at Mother Theresa. Outwardly, she wasn’t the most physically beautiful person on the planet, however, she had the most beautiful heart. So much so that she’s now a Saint. She gave everything to saving others, and to me, that’s amazingly beautiful. I’d also venture to say that she didn’t do it for outside praise, but because she had an internal driving force compelling her. I’m sure she’d have said it was god, and that’s because of her faith, but spirituality aside, it was an internal compelling force that propelled her to help others until the last moments of her life.

It occurred to me also the other day that people who seek outside validation and acceptance are often very poor role models for young people. The catalyst to this idea happened at a basketball game. I was commenting that the “cheerleader” women should find other jobs and those types of jobs, where women are bumping and grinding as entertainment during sporting events, should be eliminated. As a savvy observer and media consumer, I find it offensive that these archaic symbols of “entertainment” are still commonplace in so many subtle areas, as in all professional sports. Men like to say that they don’t even notice them or care that they’re there, but I know that’s not always true. However, these women are examples of the unattainable “ideal” of what women should look like, move like, dress like and work like… yes, they’re dancers and it’s a physically demanding job, they donate loads of their time and energy to causes, charities and the like, but at what cost to future generations? Young girls look up to these women and want to be like them… tall, thin, tan, nipped and tucked, with flowing, Caucasian hair, no physical flaws…. while at the same time, wearing close to underwear and go-go boots or knee high stilettos, rooting for the home team. That seems like a very complex contradiction to me.
It was pointed out to me that many of these cheerleaders have day jobs, like teachers and nurses. This not only confuses me a whole lot, because during the day, these ladies are sophisticated professionals and at night they’re undulating in their skivvies? There’s got to be some sort of disconnect with them.
Which leads me back to my point. “Be Authentic”. Accept yourself in everything you are, in everything you do, unconditionally. Be you. Waver for no one. I’m learning this, slowly but surely. Those that are still standing with you at the end are the ones that accept you for you also.

And that my friends, is happiness and true beauty.


~ by wendemachete on January 28, 2012.

One Response to “Beauty and Happiness”

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