Category Archives: Journaling

So you didn’t win the lottery…Here’s the good news

This time last week lottery pandemonium was taking hold of us. As the pot was now estimated to be at it’s largest ever, most people jumped at the chance to play their luck. It was on the news, radio and on the tip of everyone’s tongue. We all knew the odds but somebody had to win.

The excited energy was in the air and we all were breathing it in. The best part for me wasn’t the chance at an extremely large amount of money or the fact that somebody (or several somebodies) life would change. The best part was the dreaming.

The hope of millions of dollars gave everyone the ability to dream without restrictions. As my husband said “You are just limited to anything you’ve ever wanted.” Peop
le all around took this opportunity to dream, and dream big.Conversations about quitting jobs, giving money to family, buying a dream home and helping the community was everywhere you looked.   Faces light up at the glimmer of hope when they opened their mind to this opportunity.

It was beautiful to share in this mass dreaming. The there was a light, hopeful energy and it was intoxicating. Then Thursday morning the majority went back to their daily lives with a sting of disappointment.

dream big

While most of us (myself included) didn’t get any money, we did gain something even more valuable. We gained a clear understanding of what we truly want. Without any restrictions, we explored how our lives would be different. We know where we truly want to spend our time, our energy and our attention.

Just because this didn’t happen overnight, it doesn’t mean it can never happen. We can choose to look at the world with an unrestricted, hopeful perspective; keeping each and every lottery dream alive. It may start smaller but you can still work towards these dreams and feel the same satisfaction.

For example, if you wanted to help your family you can start with giving your sister gas money instead of the car you dreamt of. If you wanted to quit your job so you have more time with your family, make a point to be completely present when you are with them or give them just 5 more minutes a day. It may sound silly to start so small, but momentum will build.

So I challenge you to not let this opportunity pass. Write them down, keep them in your thoughts and let your dreams come to you however they can.

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That horrible “S” word…

It is a word so horrible that I don’t even like thinking about it. My breathing becomes harder, my chest starts to get red and I get knots in my stomach. I know I am not alone, as it is one of the more painful feelings we can experience; yet one many of us live with daily. That’s right, I am talking about shame. Shame is such a powerful thing as it can cause many different emotions such as guilt, anger, sadness and so on.   It is a feeling that can be so terrible that many of us make choices daily to try to avoid this experience.   There are few feelings that have the power to direct our lives such as shame can.

The actual definition of shame per the Merriam-Webster dictionary is a feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness that you have because you know you have done something wrong.   The fascinating part of this definition is that it explains how this feeling is completely based on what you “know” you have done wrong. Considering we live in a very complex society and most choices in our lives don’t have a clear right and wrong, this definition tells me that shame is actually nothing more than a feeling based on our personal perception. Our perception of what is right and wrong can come from many different places including our families, experiences, society, religion, etc. Since it is built with so many different pieces, everyone has a different understanding of “wrong”. For example, while many of us can agree that killing another person is wrong, we have very different perceptions in the world on if killing an animal is wrong. It gets even greyer when we look at societies “acceptable” social standards since every one of us were raised to have a different understanding of how you “should” behave around others. Yet, we allow the fear of this single feeling to rule many of the choices in our lives.

Since there are so many different opinions of what is wrong, it is no wonder that shame can take over our lives, especially if we are taking into account what others “must be thinking”. Looking back through my life I can pinpoint hundreds of decisions I made trying to do what I thought I “should” do based on what I believed others were thinking. Many of these choices caused me to delay living my passion or being true to myself; all because I was afraid others would think it was “wrong” and my old friend shame would come out to play. In actuality, most of the choices we make don’t cause nearly the impact to others as they do to ourselves, yet we make others opinions of what is right and wrong rule. When we feel we have taken the wrong step or others judge us, then shame will begin to swim in our veins causing us to hide from our truth and listen to others. This can show up differently in each person’s life, spanning from decisions such as our career choice to how we interact in public settings. If we don’t learn to identify and get out of this cycle, then shame is allowed to run wild, threatening to choose any opinion of “wrong” it can find at that moment.

A first step in the process of breaking this cycle is to start trusting yourself more than others. Begin to believe and have
faith that what your heart and gut is telling you is the right thing, even if others opinions would classify it as wrong. To do this, you must forgive yourself for any past actions that bring up that shame. Take some time to think through these decisions and situations. Allow yourself to be understanding of the circumstances and acknowledge that you were truly doing the best you could at that moment. Fostering this kind of self-compassion and forgiving your past mistakes will allow a stronger feeling of empowerment that will allow your voice to be heard. Ultimately, there is no need to be “right” for everyone, just for yourself. Trusting yourself, forgiving yourself and loving yourself will take away the power that shame has.   Begin practicing this and you will feel true freedom, the freedom to live who you truly are.

Decisions

Accepting Change

Most of us realize that change is a natural part of life, and an inevitable one at that.  ChangeEven with that knowledge, sometimes it is hard to accept changes that are “happening to us”.  Whether good or bad, changes that feel to be outside of our control can be unnerving and give us stress or anxiety.  Regardless of big or small, we all have various levels of tolerance for change in our lives and can become frustrated by it.  While this initial reaction and be typical, how we manage through this change can make a huge impact on our health and happiness.

To work through change that we are struggling with, we must first emotionally detach from what we think is good or bad.  Often the changes in our lives that we think are “bad” propel us into a direction that will ultimately bring incredible happiness.  In fact, if you look back into your life, most changes that seemed bad at the time often brought greater gifts than we could imagine. Sometimes we lose a job and feel devastated but are then inspired to chase our dreams.  A relationship may have ended sooner than we were ready for it to, but then we find our true love shortly after.  We may have had an injury that caused great pain only to lead us down a path of understanding our bodies and taking better care of ourselves.  Regardless of how bad these things may feel in the moment, looking for the gift within them allows the change to feel much more manageable and makes us much more resilient.

In addition to not judging the changes that are coming with a label, it is also helpful to really look at what we have done to cause the change.  Even when things feel outside of our control, they often are a result of choices we have made up until that point or they are leading us towards something that we truly desire.  The key here is to not blame ourselves but see how we can learn from this experience.  The lessons that we learn from changes are always at the exact right time for our spiritual growth and we often have caused them without even realizing it.  Even the small changes in life can have a ripple effect that we don’t anticipate.  Taking time to reflect on this, even while we are in the midst of the change, will help in making it feel less frustrating.

Creating a new level of flexibility in your life to accept small changes can also be helpful in managing through the larger changes in life.  This can be done by changing your daily routines or entering into situations that may be uncomfortable for you.  Try a new food, travel to somewhere you have never been or give a new hobby a chance.  We truly grow through uncomfortable situations so creating that opportunity in your life can be greatly helpful in preparing for times with the uncomfortable comes to us.  While these things are small, they make us more comfortable with the uncomfortable, this will help us adapt to the larger changes in life.

Taking time to reflect and process the change past our initial emotional reaction is critical.  Next time there is a change coming into your life ask yourself these questions to help navigate your way to a happy acceptance:

  • What gifts will come from this change in my life?
  • What am I learning about myself through this change?
  • What choices did I make that may have lead to this change?
  • How is this change bringing me closer to what I really want?

What’s Influencing You?

All of us would love to think that we fully control our thoughts and emotions.  The idea that we are always in control of our emotional responses is a powerful stance we sometimes cling to.  This, however, is not true.  While we may be able to control our actions, we cannot always control our thoughts.  Although we can train ourselves to be aware and conscious of our thoughts and emotions, we will have things floating into our heads that aren’t necessarily contributing to our overall peaceful and happy existence.  That is called being human. Not accepting this fact can cause us to also ignore how the things we are exposed to (hear, see, etc.) can and will have an impact on our thoughts and emotions.  We may not want to believe it, but the things and people we choose to allow into our lives will contribute to some of our underlying, subconscious thoughts.  This can impact our moods and overall happiness if we aren’t careful.

Most of us can recall a moment where we feel flooded with anger or sadness without really being able to pinpoint what triggered it.  We may be able to remember a really bad day we had that seemed to spiral after we heard about something depressing that we couldn’t just shake off.  This happens because our brains magnificent and complex.  Quickly absorbing all the data points it can bring in, our minds only consciously register a small portion leaving the rest to get put away into a vault for a moment when we have open space for it to leak out.  It may be while we are awake and often they pop up in our dreams.  Anybody that has ever had a nightmare after watching a scary movie can attest to the fact that we don’t just let go of what we see or hear immediately after.

This awareness is important so that we can begin taking steps to expose ourselves to things that will bring more joy and happiness into our lives whenever possible.  Many people feel a sense of relief when they stop watching the news or get rid of cable to minimize the commercials they experience.  Some can experience a shift in their whole day by reading an inspirational article or quote in the morning.  The good can stick with us as easily as the bad so taking a look at what you are bringing into your life is a great step in creating a happier state of mind.  It is also important to realize that we are all unique and what is bad for one may not be for another.  One person could get depressed by reading something tragic while another could get motivated to make a change in the world.

Finding what is influencing you in a negative way is simple but will take some trial and error.  Take these simple steps to decide how to start bringing in the right influences and shutting out the wrong ones.

  1. Look at what e-mails you get, what TV shows you watch or what you read on a daily basis.  Does it make you happy or sad?  Motivated or frustrated?  Notice these feelings and pay attention to what may be influencing you to experience feelings you don’t need.
  2. Try for a week to eliminate the things that leave you feeling anger, sadness or frustration.  If you feel angry after reading the newspaper for example, take it out or read different sections for a week and see if that helps your overall happiness.
  3. Add in or replace with the positive.  Find new ways to bring in things that make you happier.  There are a lot of websites that report only the good news or specialize in publishing motivational articles that you can read in place of traditional news (If you would like recommendations just let me know J).   Find a book or phone app that is full of energizing, motivational quotes and start your day reading one. Watch an uplifting documentary instead of a drama filled movie.  There are many ways to add in more positivity so get creative, have fun with it and try different things until you see what works for you.
  4. Journal how you are feeling while you go through the testing process.  A simple notation of your happiness level and help you see if you are removing things that are not contributing to your overall happiness.
  5. Most importantly, have fun with exploring and experimenting!

Who Are You?

I want to know who you are.  I don’t want your name or any particular labels that have been given to you (unless they resonate), but what your soul would say if it were asked.

Why?  I want to know simply because I want you to know those things about yourself. 546699_488339164510904_704481975_n If you don’t take time to think about it and if no one ever asks, you may never truly find those answers.

We often hide parts of who we are.  We grow up putting on label after label so we can describe ourselves in a way others understand.  As we go through this process, we often start eliminating those that don’t seem appealing or acceptable to others.  For example, we may hear a child say “I am beautiful” but it is far less common to hear an adult say it.  This is something many take out as they begin to judge themselves or are judged by others.  It all starts when we are really young and before we know it, we forget what some of these things are.

We begin to define ourselves by what we do or who we are in relation to others.  Very few people start a conversation with a complete stranger with anything other than what we have chosen as circumstances in our lives such as a job, our marital status and if we have kids.  A few other “likes” or “dislikes” may come up but that is as deep as it often gets.  Sometimes we make lifelong friends with people who know everything about what has happened to us or things we have done, but we never disclose who we are.  It just never comes up.

The reason this is a challenge is it is impossible to honor, respect and love yourself if you have no idea who that is.  How can you pursue things that serve you, serve your soul and your ultimate happiness if you don’t know what they are?  One reason that people sometimes struggle to find happiness is they are living a life that doesn’t serve their happiness.  Getting perspective is sometimes all we need to know what changes to make and get closer to happiness, even if it as simple as starting a new hobby.  Going through the motions of life you may never take the time to ask yourself so I am doing it for you.

Sit alone, with no one providing their input and opinion and write on the top of the paper Who am I?  Start the next line with I am… and list out everything that comes to mind.  Don’t judge what you write or feel guilty about those that you leave off that “should” be on it.  You may find things start to list out that are things you always wanted to do but hid from out of fear or judgment.  You are already all those things; you just haven’t lived the experience yet, accept them as truth.

If you find harmful or hurtful words come up then you can uncover areas that need your compassion and love.  These are beliefs you have that can be holding you back from your dreams.  Working through them so they are no longer on this list is critical in moving forward and uncovering self-love.

Allow the words to just come to you and don’t force them, you may be amazed at what you learn about yourself.  Below are pieces of my list, my husbands and other people I know who have done this exercise.

I am a writer.  I am a healer.  I am divine light.  I am a friend.  I am a musician.  I am full of energy.  I am peaceful.  I am joy.  I am a spiritual guide.  I am awesome.  I am a mother.  I am a husband.  I am an animal lover.  I am a student of life.  I am a teacher.  I am an artist.  I am crafty.  I am love.  I am a leader.  I am a speaker.  I am blessed.  I am living gratitude.  I am a dancer.  I am a dreamer.  I am a gypsy.  I am beautiful.  

Who are you? I would love if anyone wants to share some of theirs here; I promise you will be met with only unconditional love and support.  If not here, than share with someone you are close to.  The more you vocalize these, the more they become part of your daily life and you will be astonished on how amazing that can be.

Be Independent.

Judgment is detrimental in progressing towards our goals.  Whether it is our own self-judgment or judgment from others, we can get stuck in our lives if we let it control us.  It keeps us from having the courage to create the life we want in many ways.  When considering how many people are looking to live a fulfilling and happy life, finding a way to release ourselves from judgment seems to be more critical than ever.  Understanding it is necessary is one thing, finding a way to do it is another.  To take that first step, consider this quote:

“What other people think of me is none of my business. One of the highest places you can get to is being independent of the good opinions of other people.”

– Dr. Wayne Dyer

This concept is incredibly empowering.  Most of us, at some point in our lives, have either heard or said, “Who cares what other people think?”  Generally, this applies to us going forward and doing something that we are fearful others will judge or condemn.  Taking on this perspective gives us courage to be ourselves and take some risks.  It is one small step in releasing the fear our ego sometimes uses to hold us back from doing things that will bring us great joy and happiness.

This quote, however, brings a new light to this concept.  Takes it one step further and challenges us to think about how good opinions from others is just as necessary to disregard as the bad ones.  It is also quite a bit harder.  When people recognize you and appreciate what you are doing, it feels great.  It also feeds our ego.  This can lead to a more dangerous cycle than not doing things because others will disapprove.  We may start doing things simply to get others approval.

In this situation, we waste valuable time and energy doing things that don’t feed our soul.  This is a cycle of never being able to say no and feeling disappointed when others don’t like what you do as much as you wanted them to.  We tend to start searching for others approval and it can stretch so far as to what careers we choose, who we marry, how we live every day of our lives.  It is a painful way to live.  Becoming independent of the good opinions of others frees you from an addictive cycle of searching for approval and allows you to honor who you really are.

To start doing this, think about everything you put your time and energy into.

  • Are there things you are doing simply because others will approve of you?
  • Are there things you aren’t doing because you are afraid of what others will think?
  • When was the last time you wanted to say “no” to someone but didn’t because they would judge you or think you weren’t a caring person?
  • Are you free to make choices without fear of what others may think of you?

Once you identify where you have been caught in the approval trap, use the phrase “What other people think of me is none of my business” as your motto to work through these situations.  It may take some time as well as having very honest conversations with those in your life about what changes you need to make but it will be worth it.  Being independent of what others think and honoring your true self will give you a significantly happier life.

Creating Peace

Every year on September 21st the world takes a moment to celebrate International Day of Peace.  In honor of this great day, it is the perfect time to evaluate how to bring more peace into your personal life.

There is a common misconception that living a peaceful life means creating a life completely absent of anger, drama or fear.  An image of a calm, uneventful and slow-paced life comes to mind.  Some people may crave this sort of life, while others want to avoid it because they love the energy that comes from a more fast-paced life.  This image, however, is somewhat impossible unless you live a life in complete seclusion with zero human interaction.  Human relationships are messy and human beings are full of messy emotions.  Living a peaceful life is about how you manage interactions with others and how you balance your life.  Being a calm and content person regardless of the situations you are in is what creates lasting peace in your personal life.  In order to do this, we need to find ways to balance our lives and our emotions so we are able to enjoy and learn from everything life brings, not just the good stuff.

As with all things, finding your way to a peaceful life is also a very personal journey.  Some of us need to work more internally and some need to work on how we interact with others.  If you are looking for ways to bring more peace into your life, here are a few suggestions on areas that may help you.

  • Relax – I am often astonished at the number of people that don’t know how to relax.  It isn’t a personal flaw, but more a symptom of society that labels any moment of “unproductive” time as a waste or being lazy.  We go, go, go until we are exhausted and then we search for an effortless activity, such as watching TV, for relief.  For some this is genuine relaxation, but for others it is the only thing they have energy left to do.  To feel more peace in every area of your life, your body and mind need downtime that works for you.  It may be playing music, reading, taking a bath, socializing or taking a walk.  Whatever may speak to you, integrating a routine of relaxation into your life is key to balancing your energy and emotions.
  • Process your emotions – We tend to numb our emotions.  Some of them are bitter, painful and unpleasant.  Some, on the other hand, are beautiful and wonderful.  All of them are necessary.  Numbing one means numbing them all.  Trying to cut out anger, frustration and fear to simply glide through life would also mean cutting out all the wonderful emotions of love, joy and excitement.  All emotions need to be embraced and explored in order to experience the type of inner peace that brings a blissful life.  Holding emotions back or avoiding situations that may bring these emotions causes inner chaos that blocks inner peace from entering your life.  When you are in a situation that causes some of the “negative” emotions, take a moment to acknowledge them instead of avoiding them.  Then take steps to work through them in a constructive manner.  This may mean journaling, addressing another person in the situation or taking some minutes in silence to understand what is triggering the feeling.  Every person will handle this differently but a key to peace is facing the emotions directly.
  • Be yourself – One of the most stressful things we can do to ourselves is trying to live up to who we are supposed to be instead of being who we truly are.  If you are not living your truth, you will never feel completely at peace.  Accepting who you are, loving who you are, and living who you are is critical in feeling constant peace.  It is not always easy to be true to who you are, but the work is worth it.  Spend time alone, learning who you are, what you want and what you like.  Make a commitment every day to honor that and remove the things that do not.  You are beautiful and perfect the way you are.  The more you live that way, the more peace you will feel.
  • Practice forgiveness – We all know that conflict is the opposite to peace, but many do not understand how holding grudges or anger towards others can be a key blocker in feeling inner peace.  Forgiving others and yourself is the single most empowering act you can take.  This is appropriate in all situations, even if it is not someone who has harmed you personally.  This can be someone who you disagree with, such as a politician or a manager in the company you work.  This may be someone who has harmed a friend.  It may also be someone from many years ago that you have almost forgotten about.  Holding anger towards any of these people, regardless of how small or how distant they are is going to keep that conflict in your life.  Make a list of anyone who you haven’t forgiven yet.  You may be surprised of the names that come up once you get started.  Work through the list, one by one, and forgive them so you can be at peace.

Creating peace in your own life is the first step in creating a peaceful and loving world.  I wish everyone a wonderful International Peace Day and hope you can create permanent peace in your own lives.

Peace Bell at UN Headquarters in NYC

Being Content

We all know that feeling.  It is the feeling of creeping frustration.  Slowly over time our dreams become so strong it is almost unbearable to live another day without reaching them.  We are taken over by the empty dissatisfaction that emerges when we think about everything we want to change.  We feel suffocated by the circumstance that are keeping us from doing what we truly desire.  We then ponder about how others peoples lives seem so much better than our own.  We convince ourselves we will be happy once we get “there”.  Before we know it, we wake up angry and not looking forward to the day.  Our energy, focus and smile begin to dwindle away.

This is a painful cycle that many live in for weeks, months and even years.  Sometimes it takes a big event or someone being so fed up that they can’t take it any more to really change it.  The solution to this is very simple- be content.  Now, this may sound contrary to other posts about not settling, taking risks, and being uncomfortable; but it is not.  Those things are all so important.  Having dreams and goals to work towards is a large piece of living fulfillment.  The idea of being content isn’t about not wanting to work towards things.  Being content is about taking the perspective that until you get there, everything now is just as it should be.  Things are perfect in this moment and you can be happy, right now, while working towards those things.  Finding a way to focus on your dreams while loving your current life is a fine balance, but one that brings great rewards.

When we get a good vision of our dreams, it comes with a sense of urgency to get there immediately.  The reason is your perception of your current life.  Your tomorrows will always look better than your today if you are focused on what you want to “fix”.  Envisioning a life that you want to create is incredibly important, but can be detrimental if it takes away from your happiness today.  Why can’t you have both?  Dream of a tomorrow that will be all you want while enjoying a today that brings real happiness.  You will never get to your tomorrow if you don’t live the present moment, so you might as well enjoy it.

Here are some tips to start living contentment:

  • Take your time, slow down, and enjoy all the beauty in your life.  Picture yourself 10 years from now looking back.  What will you miss about your current life?  Are you enjoying those things now?
  • Integrate a gratitude practice and don’t focus on the things you don’t like.  Eventually, the journey to achieve your dreams will be significantly more enjoyable.
  • Don’t view your life once you achieve your dreams as “better” than your current life.  Remind yourself that they are both wonderful, just different.

Finding Balance

We are busy people.  Regardless of who I speak to, very few people don’t respond to “How are things?” with the some form of the answer “Good but busy”.  It almost seems as if there is a competition out there to see who can get the busiest.  The winner will win a slew of stress related health problems and regrets of not spending enough time on the important things in life.  It’s not a great prize and we don’t really want it, yet we all continue to compete.  Regardless of the stress or the amount of time it will take that we don’t have, we keep piling on things until one day, we completely break.  Why do we do this?  For each person it is a little different but the range of reasons can include the inability to say no, feeling obligated to do more, not feeling as if we are as important as the things we have to do, etc.   It is a vicious and dangerous cycle that we thrive on until we are exhausted and burnt out.

The solution is fairly simple but hard to enforce.  We need to put ourselves first and demand that we remain balanced in our lives.  We need to start running our calendars rather than have them run us.  When we are out of balance and spending too much time in areas that don’t serve us, we are not the best us.  We cannot give 100% to anything we are doing if 100% of us isn’t available.

Not providing time to relax, center and focus is a common spiral that can be broken if we are aware of it.  Once you become aware and implement strategies to keep it under control, the rewards are worth far more than the difficulty it might cause. Living a balanced life we have the energy to spend on our passions, our families, and our purpose.  We have a sense of calm and peacefulness.  Every moment is enjoyable and effortless instead of stressful and hard.

Here are some steps you can take to integrate more balance in your life:

  • Learn to say no – You don’t have to do everything for everyone.  It is a hard lesson to learn, but if you aren’t realistic with your time then you are unable to give the proper attention to the things you want to commit to.
  • Ask for help – It is a hard thing for many, but asking for help is critical.  Your friends and family want to see you happy and helping can also give them a sense of joy.
  • Build in relaxation time – You have to have time that is dedicated to you.  Something to look forward to and that helps your soul feel nurtured.  It isn’t about the amount of time; it is more about the effectiveness of it.  List out things that you wish you had time for and would relax you.  Pick from them, rotate through them or do all of them.  Whatever works, just make sure there is a routine in place to give you frequent YOU time.
  • List it out – List out everything that you are spending your time on.  Narrow down the list to the things that aren’t critical or making you happy.  Of those items, what can you remove?  What can you let go of?
  • Practice – It is important to build a practice of balancing our minds and energy.  It can be a meditation routine, long baths, or simply taking deep breaths with our eyes closed throughout the day.  Find what speaks to you and makes you feel calm and relaxed.  Make sure to make it something you can integrate easily into your daily life. This will help reinforce the changes you are making and keep you balanced in stressful situations.

These are just a few steps to start with, but critical ones.  Start small then build up as you get more comfortable.  You and your happiness is worth every bit of effort it takes to achieve balance in your life.

You are Beautiful

Generally I stay away from the word beautiful.  When I do use it generally it is about the beauty around us or inside of us.  Utilizing it in terms of physical appearance is something I avoid partially because of my own insecurities that get shaken awake and partly because of the emotional tornado that comes with the word.  People instantly cringe inside and their inner critic takes over.  But, it is incredibly valuable to understand why that is and what we can do to undo any of the damage the word may bring.  As with most things in life, facing it is the key to changing it.

The word beautiful is one of those words that every person customizes.  When I say beautiful, what comes to mind?  I bet you it is a different image for every person reading this, even if slightly.  It varies even more when you are talking about beauty with people.  We all vary in what we find attractive in a mate and what we envy in those of the same sex.  It is a word that creates more pain and pleasure than most words in the dictionary.   It is a word that consumes our minds whenever we look in the mirror or are looking at someone else.  It is a word that creates an instant stream of judgment that is heart wrenching to many.

The key here is to remember it is just a word, and a word for a perception at that.  There is no clear definition of beauty, however convinced you are that you won’t fit into that category.   As a society, there are general themes for what we believe is beautiful which is clear and evident in our celebrities.  We even create whole magazines around the topic.  But this society varies from that of other countries and every society varies in what they perceive is beautiful.  Despite the amount of weight someone loses, how much plastic surgery they get, how much muscle they build or how much make-up they wear; it is impossible to fit everyone’s view of beauty.   It will never be done.

With that being said, you should know that you are beautiful.  We are all.  Maybe not in a typical way, maybe not in the way that will make us movie stars and maybe not even in the way we would prefer.  But you are beautiful.  It is a matter of perception, just like any experience in our life.  The way we view beauty in ourselves completely depends on how we look at it.  If we shift our focus from the things we see in ourselves that we think are not beautiful and begin to celebrate the things that we think are beautiful, the level of happiness and acceptance of ourselves will flourish.

How are you beautiful?  If your mind instantly went to “I’m not” then you have some work to do.  Sit down and write out everything that is beautiful about you, inside and out.  Look at your body in a different way then you have.  Don’t focus on what you don’t like, look at what you do.

Here is a list of things that I have found beautiful in every person I have ever met to get you started:

Your eyes – Eyes give away secrets of the soul.  It doesn’t matter what color they are, how long your eyelashes are or if you have wrinkles.  Your eyes are incredibly beautiful and tell a story of your individuality.

Your smile – This is best gift you can give to the world.  Your smile brings an instant moment of peace and joy to every person you show it to.  It doesn’t matter how big your lips are or if your teeth are perfect; your smile conveys the most beautiful part of life – joy.

Your hands – I know many people don’t look at their hands and think about beauty but let me tell you, they are amazingly beautiful.  They allow you to take care of others, create beautiful things in this world, embrace others and demonstrate love.  If you take a moment to look at anyone’s hands and think about what they bring to the world you will see the beauty instantly.

There is your list to start…what else is beautiful about you?  Write it out, tell it to the world and believe it with all your heart.  If you feel extra daring look at yourself in the mirror and say “You are so beautiful” over and over again until you feel the peace and acceptance warm your heart.  If you do nothing else, simply remember that I believe, and will always believe, that you are beautiful.