In previous installments of this series (part 1 and part 2), we covered the physical aspects of me-care, the self-care practices that can enhance our external appearance by improving our internal health and happiness, and vice versa. Here, we’ll go deeper and discuss ways we can boost our sense of personal fulfillment and well-being, and the beauty benefits that can bring.
It’s Okay to Make Yourself a Priority
Many of us find it difficult to give ourselves permission to take full care of ourselves. Both explicitly and implicitly, society teaches us from an early age that others’ needs and wants come first. We grow up believing that we should always say “yes” to others even when it means saying “no” to ourselves. We develop a deep sense of guilt around the opposite: saying “yes” to ourselves and “no” to others. We’re often taught to give even at the detriment of our own self-interest.
It’s time to let go of that guilt and learn to make ourselves a priority.
We develop a deep sense of guilt around saying “yes” to ourselves and “no” to others. It’s time to let go of that guilt and learn to make ourselves a priority.
I often find myself telling younger women that we can’t depend on others to take care of us or to make us happy. Taking control of our own well-being is critical to living our fullest life, and ultimately, it is only when we are able to take care of ourselves, to draw boundaries and put ourselves first, that we can give our best to the people and causes that we care about. A lack of self-care results in exhaustion, irritability, and resentment—not exactly the keys to success at work or in relationships.
So do your best to silence the voice inside that tells you to feel bad about budgeting time or money for the “frivolous” pursuits you may enjoy. Martyrdom is not a recipe for joy. Life is short and uncertain, and we all need more joy.
How Happiness Enhances Beauty
The mind and body are one integrated system. What we feel emotionally is reflected physiologically, in the release or suppression of various hormones with wide-ranging effects on the body. Stress, for example, triggers the release of hormones like cortisol. It’s well-documented that persistently elevated cortisol levels can wreak havoc on health and even contribute to weight gain and obesity.
As I mentioned in the second article in this series, I am not a physician, so we won’t delve deeply into the physiological impacts of our moods on our bodies. For now, it’s enough to be aware that our emotional state does affect our body, which includes our external appearance. If nothing else, consider how a genuinely happy person looks. Happiness conveys an unmistakable glow, a sparkle in the eyes, a warmth to the smile—you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t find those qualities beautiful, regardless of the shape and proportions of the face they inhabit.
Happiness conveys an unmistakable glow, a sparkle in the eyes, a warmth to the smile—you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t find those qualities beautiful.
Happiness also confers more energy and motivation in general. When we’re unhappy, when we feel tired and unappreciated and unfulfilled, it becomes easier and easier to neglect ourselves. What’s the point? we ask ourselves. On the other hand, when we’re happy and excited about our lives, when we feel good about who we are and what we’re doing, it becomes easier and easier to take care of ourselves—to exercise, to eat well, to practice our daily beauty routine.
So how do we find more happiness and personal fulfillment? By exploring what we love and giving ourselves permission to enjoy it.
Finding Yourself Through Your Passions and Hobbies
It’s not uncommon to find ourselves, in adulthood, unsure of what our passions and hobbies even are anymore. The daily grind of work responsibilities, household chores, and family duties can take up so much time and headspace that non-essential interests begin to fall to the wayside, until one day we wake up and are unsure of who we really are under the outer shell of societal obligation.
Seeking more personal fulfillment means finding those interests, dusting them off if they’re old or acquiring them if they’re new. And it doesn’t have to be a major time suck, at least not at first. Nor should it be a major commitment. Telling ourselves we’re going to learn how to play piano or take up embroidery or become rock climbing pros no matter what is a recipe for struggle and disappointment.
As you begin actively considering and searching for your passions, give yourself permission to dabble and to fail. You’re not doing this for anyone but yourself. There is no external pressure, no deadline to meet, no milestones to hit—you’re just making a point of looking for things you enjoy.
The Internet makes exploring your interests and developing new hobbies extraordinarily easy. Instructional videos and blog posts exist for literally every single activity you could possibly imagine, so go wild. Look up how to craft birdhouses out of toothpicks and vegan glue if that sounds interesting to you. And find online communities based around those interests.
Even on Instagram, just typing in a possible hashtag (like #handmadebirdhouse) will most likely surface multiple accounts creating content geared towards people interested in the topic, like you. The more you explore your interests and the communities around them, the more you’ll find what truly fits you.
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Surrounding Yourself with Supportive Allies
A crucial additional benefit to finding your passions is that discovering and developing your interests often leads to an expansion of your social circles as well.
Look. I’m an introvert. As an introvert, I am categorically not telling you that having a rollicking, raucous, nonstop social life is necessary for personal fulfillment and happiness. Not everyone needs nonstop parties and group vacations to the Icelandic glaciers to be happy.
What I am saying is that even for us introverts, it would be extremely rare for a person to thrive in total isolation. The feeling of belonging and the benefits of having a circle of supportive, trusted loved ones can enhance our lives in many ways, from having a sympathetic ear when we need to vent all the way to having tangible help when we run into difficulties in life. Even better when those trusted loved ones share some of our interests and passions—there are few things more fun than totally geeking out about our pet topics with like-minded friends!
As you consciously develop your social circle and support system, don’t forget to honor your own personal needs and boundaries as well. If you need space, a good friend will respect your request for it. Make new friends as much as you like, but start off on the right foot by being mindful of your boundaries so that the relationship remains beneficial rather than a burden.
How Does This Connect Back to Beauty?
Finding your passions, exploring them in a supportive community, and surrounding yourself with people who contribute a net positive impact to your life all add up to one crucial benefit: an increase in your sense of self-worth and your self-esteem. Self-esteem is, in my opinion, the best protection against questionable beauty choices.
I answer a lot of follower questions on my Instagram, many of them revolving around how to fix damage that people have accidentally caused to their faces. What I’ve learned in these conversations, as well as from personal experience, is that low self-esteem causes many a bad beauty decision. Leaving a peel on for too long, resulting in over-exfoliation or chemical burns. Adding too many products to one’s skin care routine at once in a desperate bid to solve a relatively minor skin problem, resulting in a much more major breakout or allergic reaction. Over-plucking eyebrows into unflattering shapes (I’m very guilty of this and still suffering the consequences).
When we feel good about our lives and ourselves, we’re less likely to fall prey to many of the beauty marketing tactics that rely on exploiting our insecurities. When we feel good about our lives and ourselves, we’re more likely to accept what we have and seek out ways to enhance it, rather than looking for ways to erase or change what we are. Increased confidence is beautiful in itself and results in more beauty overall, no matter what age or color or shape or size we are. And that is how finding personal fulfillment and happiness enhances our beauty.
In the end, me-care boils down to one simple principle: honoring ourselves. Honoring our needs and our passions, placing ourselves at the top of our own priority list. Classical artists made beauty out of martyrdom, but we live in a different time. Love yourself, be true to yourself, and take good care of yourself. That’s how you’ll achieve your maximum beauty.