Experts say an inner glow that makes you feel great – and warms the people around you – can be cultivated. Here are seven traits that belong in the mix. Practice these, and shine with beauty in all the right ways, both to yourself and others.
1. Stand tall
What gives tiny ballerinas, mild-mannered yoga teachers, and female generals their commanding presence? We’re betting on posture. We don’t mean ramrod straight. We mean the flexible, relaxed kind that keeps your spine healthy, and keeps you feeling and looking long and lean. It’s healthier for your back (and more fun) to be a blade of tall grass swaying in the breeze than a fence post stuck in the ground. Feel it, by standing with both feet planted on the floor and your knees bent ever so slightly. Firm your tummy muscles, relax your shoulders, and draw yourself up by keeping your head and neck in line with your shoulders. Allow your spine to be naturally and gracefully curvy. Now, you’re instantly taller, slimmer, and more confident.
2. Laugh often
A willingness to celebrate the truly comic in us and in everyday events, without sarcasm or meanness, gives life a fine and fizzy tingle. Humor eases tension, makes both the profound and pathetic palatable, and connects us. In addition, laughter can reduce your risk for a heart attack by a whopping 40 percent, and help your body process blood sugar better. Appreciate the lighter side and you’ll live a longer life, researchers report. You don’t have to be the last comic standing to spread this fabulous fun. Your sense of humor is as unique as your fingerprints and flaunting yours enriches the world. Consider humor a muscle that could use a workout once in a while.
3. Connect with bliss
Maybe you’ve felt it during a late-afternoon walk on the beach, while holding a child, in the middle of a marathon, or while working at some aspect of your job that you absolutely love. Time stops. The rest of the world fades away. You’re fully present, fully involved, fully alive. This is bliss—the feeling of pure being that creates deep satisfaction. It changes us for the better. You can’t define or measure it, but you certainly know when you have it, and amazingly, without you saying a word, others know it too. The good news is, we can all get there. Start by noticing what gives you real satisfaction.
4. Say “thanks”
Once upon a time, gratitude was saddled with a reputation for being lame – something wimpy that Mom made you do. But researchers and real people are beginning to understand why feeling truly thankful expands your own sense of well-being and sends ripples into the world. Feeling thankful increases feelings of optimism, reduces pain and fatigue, and boosts performance at school and at work. Also, alertness, enthusiasm, determination, and attentiveness soar. As a result, gratitude can be a booster shot for your marriage, let you feel more connected to others, and inspire you to help a friend, co-worker, neighbor or family member with a personal problem. It also involves the willingness to acknowledge the good that the people around you do with kind words. Not only does this type of gratitude lift your soul, but it lifts others as well.
5. Have (more) fun
Splash down a creek in your water shoes. Spend the afternoon at an amusement park. Go out dancing. Call up your three best friends, and go listen to your favorite upbeat music. Your mission is to make child-like fun your #1 priority regularly, because sometimes, the best expression of inner beauty is a wild, uncontrolled grin. We know. Life becomes serious business as the responsibilities of adulthood multiply. But sometimes the best antidote can’t be found in a glass of wine, a bubble bath or a good book. Consult your inner child – the energetic and enthusiastic 12-year-old living inside us all – for alternative suggestions. It’ll put a glint in your eyes, a spring in your step – and give you a reputation for knowing how to have a really good time.
Plus: How to Live Better
6. Be generous
Volunteer to tutor a child. Donate to a worthy cause. Lend a hand, and you get a portfolio of big paybacks. The first one you’ll notice is a “helper’s high” – a surge of feel-good brain chemicals released when you call the tow truck for a family stranded on the freeway or volunteer to put up sheetrock in a Habitat for Humanity house. Helping out also activates areas of the brain crucial for planning and organizing daily life. You’ll even extend your life: In one study, volunteers saw a 60 percent decline in mortality! It doesn’t matter if it’s a one-day volunteer event with friends or helping out the needs in your own neighborhood. What counts is recognizing the gifts in your own life that you can share with others. Now that’s true beauty.
7. Practice authenticity
This sterling quality of authenticity is all about balance: You can act on what’s important to you, honor others, and meet them as equals. This means knowing and respecting yourself enough to make choices that reflect your deepest-held priorities and finding ways – kindly, gently – to tell the truth. This, of course, is a process you can fill a lifetime with, not a one-day self-improvement project. Start by looking at areas of your life that line up with your values, and places that don’t. The things that save this trait from becoming a “but enough about you, let’s talk about me” ego-fest are a group of brilliant brain cells called mirror neurons. They’re the reason why you yawn when your partner yawns or why you feel cold when your kid goes outside in the winter with only a sweatshirt on. The great thing about mirror neurons is that they practically ensure human connection by creating empathy. Noticing and acting on these shared feelings is a blueprint for friendship and community. It is authenticity in action. And by extension, the truest form of beauty there is.
Sources: Best You