August 20, 2013

5 Ingredients of Inner Beauty

Happy Tuesday! I stayed up the other night with some of my friends to watch the meteor shower last week. Did any of you make wishes on some "shooting stars"? Let me know in the comments!

I've been thinking about inner beauty quite a lot ever since I read Bailey's comment in a previous post. The manner in which she phrased it was so encouraging and it got me all excited about writing this post, but then I had to stop myself. Because, well, what in the world is inner beauty? It seems like beauty (inner or outer) is something that we can recognize but cannot ever fully define properly.

I believe that inner beauty is essentially the health of your soul. And like physical health, there are many variables which affect the health of your spirit. Having a positive attitude despite adversity is a discipline. Putting others before yourself takes exercise. And training yourself to be confident (note: confidence and arrogance are different) is a draining process because you need to find what you are confident about. Then there are all of the factors that you are putting inside yourself, your diet. How do the books you read or the movies you watch impact your perspective on life? Do your friends and family give you unconditional love and support? Do you go to church?

There are so many components to inner beauty, and they are intertwined and complex--you don't even have total control over some of them!--so for today I decided to talk about a couple that really stand out to me. Many of the other "ingredients" will probably surface later on in future posts, so five of them is sufficient for now. This post will be guided by two quote-pictures (does anyone have a better name for these?) that I found on Facebook a while ago and have been saving for a while.

So with all of that said, let's get started!

#1: Love
There are many types of love. Someone could probably start a whole new blog discussing even just a couple forms of love. (I mean, I suppose there are already thousands of blogs out there about romantic love, so I wasn't even exaggerating on that statement.) I'm going to try to keep it as brief as I can on this point since there are four other ingredients to discuss, but the most beautiful people I know have a lot of love in their hearts. Love for what they do, love for the people around them, love for themselves, love for God. Mother Teresa's famous quotation is "Do small things with great love." And guys, when you have love in your heart, everything in this world become so much more powerful, so much more meaningful.

Genuine, raw love is the greatest blessing that mankind has. It seems rare because it is so easy to complicate. What inspired me to start fostering love in my heart is Mother Teresa's quotation above. To do this, I started developing genuine interest for other people. When I meet someone new, one of the first questions I ask is: "What is your passion?" And swiftly following up: "Why do you do it?"

Developing love also involves tearing down walls and misconceptions. Before, it was difficult for me to feel attached to other people because I'd been betrayed by those who I'd cared about. Walls were naturally built, as a way to protect the heart. And the tragedy is that although these walls screen out pain, they also screen out love. Each person may have their own reason to have built a defense mechanism, but don't let the pain caused by a few lead you to neglect the thousands of people whom you have the opportunity to help during your lifetime. And if you are dealing with pain or when you deal with pain in the future, it is crucial to remember that it is ultimately your own choice to let it crush you or fight it--ultimately becoming a more mature, able person in the end. 
"The heart is a muscle. When it is broken, it grows back stronger." (Unknown) 

Society also plays a role in our struggle to love. Society teaches the concept of a social ladder: one that successful people are to climb. There is this hierarchy, where those on top generally look down on those at the bottom. Talented people are applauded, while those with modest or "average" abilities receive no recognition. But instead of considering those around you in a vertical manner, it is better instead to think of all people--big or small, black or white, religious or not, male or female, rich or poor--on a horizontal spectrum. While it may be natural to compare this trait with that one,  it is very easy to start "stacking" traits up. So upon meeting another person, it has helped me a lot to recognize the fact that s/he has his/her own story, strengths, weaknesses, and tribulations. Each person does--even you. And I am trying think more to myself, "What can I do to make their day better?" and "What can I learn from their story?"

This sort of mindset is one to take on for a loving spirit.

#2: Honesty
To me, it seems that usually people preach about being honest when it comes to matters dealing with "white lies." Lying vs. telling the truth is definitely a topic of deep philosophical meaning, so that will have to be reserved for a future post.

Anyway, today for this ingredient, I wanted to focus it more on the terms of self-reflection. Some unhappy people I know are dishonest with themselves on opposite extremes. Do you know anybody who tends to put him or herself down? It's an unrealistic way to look at oneself detrimentally because each person has both positive and negative qualities. Confidence is an important feature of inner beauty, so it is important to recognize your good traits, the ones that make you unique and fun to be around. Maybe you're a good listener, or are always there to lend a hand, or have a nice smile.

There is a fine line between confidence, or arrogance, though. So while being aware of the positive qualities is essential, it is also crucial to maintain a sense of humility--arrogance is a negative trait.

#3: Truth
Here is a value that is distinct from honesty. Honesty is mostly about being frank with yourself and others--asking questions like "Did I mess up?" "What did I do well today?" and "What can I do better tomorrow?"

Truth is slightly different because it's less reflective and more active. Truth is something we seek. It's obtainable by filling up your mind, by drinking in knowledge and wisdom. Read books, question others' opinions, learn from what others have learned. Find truth.

#4: Respect
Does it seem to anyone like our generation is losing respect as a whole? We don't seem to respect our parents in the same way they respected theirs; gossip destroys friendships; a sense of unsettling pessimism seems to drive the conscience of many. Drug abuse is a form of disrespect to our own bodies, and it's becoming a major problem.

Respect yourself, respect others, and respect the environment.

Treat others as you would have them treat you. So give them the benefit of the doubt, share with them, help them if they seem to be going through a rough time--even if you don't think they deserve it--because who knows? Maybe you'll be the person in need of some care and respect in the future.

#5: God
Having a relationship with God is the most important ingredient of inner beauty because it ultimately embodies all of the other ingredients. Praying to him gives you a sense of peace because you know he'll take care of your problems. He has set a pure example for loving those around us and instills a spirit of sincere compassion. Find him, and you will find truth, unconditional love, self-sacrifice, and a fulfilling lifestyle.
And there are five ingredients of inner beauty. I hope you have a wonderful week and I will blog again soon!
I moved here to college safely, and I just wanted to thank all of my friends and family of supporting me through this process, especially my parents. I am also so happy that you also had a chance to read a little bit about my experiences through the series Get Ready For College With Me. Please subscribe and leave many comments--I love hearing from you guys and am willing to discuss just about anything!
Take care,
-Riley XO

1 comment:

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