I was at the dermatologist’s office a few years ago to check out a suspicious spot on my ankle that I thought might be pre-cancerous. On my way out, the doctor handed me a pamphlet for Botox and told me I should have started in my twenties, but not to worry, they were running a discount for first-timers and I could do my forehead and eyes for 50% off. My wrinkles were the last thing on my mind that day, so I left not only feeling like I might have cancer, but at the age of 31, I had suddenly been branded as undeniably old.
I declined my doctor’s generous offer and now at age 34, I continue to collect smile lines rather than trying to erase them. I have dealt with my own insecurities like every other woman and understand what it feels like to not be comfortable in my own skin. But the older I get, the more I embrace the idea that feeling beautiful starts from the inside out.
Here are five ways to radiate beauty from the inside out.
1. Stand like a Superhero
Confidence is your most attractive asset. It doesn’t matter what your shape or size, feeling beautiful is about loving the skin you’re in. Yet even the most confident among us can still have “off” days, so how do we lift ourselves up on days when we’re not feeling our best? Check in with your posture. Are your shoulders slumped? Your chest collapsed and your head hung low? Try standing in superhero stance. Roll your shoulders open, place your hands on your hips and puff your chest out like you are out to conquer the world. It may feel a little goofy at first, but even psychologists agree that standing in “open postures” for as little as two minutes a day can make you feel more confident and powerful.
I’m not talking about forcing a smile when you don’t feel like it. In fact, I hate when people tell me to smile unsolicited. But when a joyful mood strikes, there’s nothing more attractive and uplifting than a genuine smile. It lights you up from the inside out and conveys a feeling of warmth and positivity. Plus, smiling is infectious and it’s always a beautiful thing to brighten someone else’s day.
3. Practice Gratitude
Your thoughts carry energy that can either empower or deplete you. Our brain is literally wired to focus on the negative more than the positive. As psychologist Rick Hanson puts it: “The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones.” Practicing gratitude can help re-wire our brains to focus more on what’s good in our lives, rather than what’s bad. Keep a gratitude journal next to your bed and write down 5 things you are grateful for when you wake up and 5 things you are grateful for before you go to sleep. Starting and ending your day with gratitude can shift your entire perspective and change your lens to see the beauty around you and within you.
Stress ages us. It reads on our faces and registers in our bodies. A consistent meditation practice can increase your brain’s gray matter and help you deal with stress and ease anxiety. Take 20 minutes out of your day and find a comfortable, quiet place to sit in stillness. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Count backwards from 100 on each exhalation. If you lose count, simply start again. Open your eyes to a more relaxed and peaceful state. What could be more beautiful than that?
5. Flip the Script on Anti-Aging
What if we changed the dialogue from “anti-aging” to graceful aging? Aging is a natural process that we all go through. Marketing buzzwords like “anti-aging” imply that getting older is something we should fight off if we want to maintain our attractiveness. Let’s flip the script and rewrite our wrinkles, not as something to be banished, but something to be celebrated. Your smile lines paint a story of a life well lived.
Graceful aging shouldn’t have to include expensive and painful injections. Healthy aging includes eating nourishing foods, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, making exercise a daily priority, and creating a beauty regime with eco-friendly, non-toxic, cruelty-free, products that are not only good for your skin, but good for your conscience and the world around you.