What is beauty? What is happiness? What is love? Many have different definitions for all three and come to their beliefs through various means.
Some simply use the dictionary. Let us start with that. For the word beauty, I chose the first definition listed:
And for the word happiness, I saw two definitions and choose to post them both:
Others may have been taught by others, such as parents, teachers, or peers what things mean and have adapted to their way of thinking. Others may disregard all teachings and decide for themselves. Today, society seems to have their own interpretations and feed them through various forms of media. But, to be honest, our race has struggled greatly with these since long before t.v., the internet, cell phones, and the like.
I have seen a number of my family members and friends struggle with self-esteem issues a lot over my lifetime and it’s been hard to react properly because I too have struggled with my own. Usually, I have just tried to tell someone who thinks they’re ugly that they’re beautiful or someone who thinks they’re not worth anything just how valuable they are. But, having dealt with this personally, when you truly believe that you’re not good enough, the kind words mean a lot, but they don’t really sink in. Of course there others who will beat themselves down verbally simply to get a reaction out of others, so they can hear how wonderful others think they are. In either case, I have come to find it disheartening and even a bit aggravating when people constantly talk negatively about themselves or worse, others, even celebrities.
Even the most confident person struggles with things we don’t know about, things we don’t understand. Putting anyone down and pointing out their flaws doesn’t make us look better. The memes that say things like, “In a world full of Kardashians, be Princess Diana.” or “If we give you Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, and Lindsay Lohan, will you give us Robin Williams, Janis Joplin, and Frank Sinatra?” bother me. Posts like that show just how ugly this world can be. They may be just meant to make people laugh, but they honestly disturb me. What right to we have to judge others? If our lives were all over the media like theirs, believe me, a lot of us wouldn’t look so great either.
In today’s world, it is hard to fit in, to feel accepted, to feel beautiful, to obtain happiness, and just get by without totally losing our sanity. It would be a lot easier if we treated one another better and ourselves as well. So many labor under the pretenses that to be beautiful, you must look, dress, and be a certain way. To be happy, you must have a significant other, nice home, expensive car, great job/money, and the newest and best of everything. To be loved, we must sacrifice all that we are and be someone we’re not to attract someone and then to keep them. If we fail to be the ideal anything, we’re not worth much, if anything, and we’re destined to be unhappy. And how many lash out at others and put them down when they’re not happy? I think a great deal of people can say they’ve been guilty of it from time to time, even without meaning to.
We don’t have to have the perfect body, be within a certain height or weight range, wear make-up and get plastic surgery, have the greatest smile, most lustrous hair, be toned and perfectly in shape, and have the latest and greatest wardrobe to be beautiful. Many think because they’re not as thin as they were 10 years ago, they’re single and have a bad track record when it comes to dating, they don’t look like so and so, etc that they are not beautiful. Now there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be healthy and in shape. In fact, a lot of us struggle with it and self improvement is something we should all work on. But, some go too far and become obsessed.
I, myself, was once very thin. I weighed 105 at most throughout high school and maybe topped 110 before getting pregnant with my son. After I had him, I was able to get down to 104 without trying. Due to medications throughout the years, I have struggled since I was about 26 with weight. I know how it feels to look in the mirror and be upset because I don’t weigh or look like I used to. When my scale started to reach 130, I was mortified. But, it didn’t stop there. I got up to 170 and decided something needed to be done. So, I got off my medication and made a few changes. I went down to 146 and was starting to feel better. But that was short lived, my new medication and depression sent me back up and I reached 180. I again made changes and with an active job, I got myself down to 135. And at that point, I actually felt good about myself. When I was 104 and first reached 130, I felt huge. But after being 180, I saw 130 differently. Since then, medication once again and not eating the best rose me back up, this time I hit 190. I was able to get down to 180-185, but since then struggled. But, it is more than a vanity thing at this point, I knew I was outright overweight. The doctors told me I was reaching a danger zone with having problems like diabetes. There’s a difference between wanting to get in shape and lose a few pounds and needing to lose weight for the sake of your health. I have beaten myself up a lot though over this. So many have told me I am still beautiful, but it’s not always easy to see that. But, I have come to see that while changes need to be made for my health, that doesn’t mean I am ugly. Being overweight should be addressed and taken care of, but it should never be made fun of and it should never diminish who someone is.
We put too much stock into what we look like, plain and simple. We then beat ourselves up when we don’t match what we think being beautiful is. Sometimes that self doubt stems down from being bullied or made fun of growing up, a mate that put us down, society telling us what we should look like, or suffering from a mental health illness. There are others as well and sometimes it’s more than one thing that factors into how we think and how we see ourselves. It can sometimes be very hard to see the beauty within ourselves. It is something I would urge everyone to try to do though. As I have been told a lot since adulthood, confidence is attractive, so long as it doesn’t become arrogance. Negative thinking turns others away from you and that is something I have learned the hard way. It is hard to overcome it and the truth is, I still struggle with it sometimes. But, I am reminded daily that as a child of God and as the love of my husband’s life that I am beautiful. It’s something I am trying to believe too.
I have seen what constant beating myself up does. At first, people feel bad for you and they try to convince you of your worth. But after awhile, people come to believe you’re never going to change your mind and you’re always going to be hard on yourself. So then, they turn their backs and walk away because they simply can’t handle the pessimism anymore. They feel if you’re determined to see only the worst in yourself, then there’s nothing they can to change your mind and don’t want your negativity to drag them down. And when listening to others now, I can see why others had a hard time dealing with me. No one wants to listen to someone who constantly whines and puts themselves down. Negative thinking is simply not an attractive quality.
Something else I have learned, if you want others to see your beauty and your worth, you need to believe it first and you need to let it shine. That confidence goes a long way. I have seen others that look a lot like those who put themselves down be happy with who they are and because of that, they have the lives they want. They don’t whine and complain about who they are and how unfair life is, these people face adversity head on and go for what they want. I have learned a lot from them. You need to see your worth and then, others will too. It’s not always easy and in fact, sometimes it’s very difficult to get over the negative thoughts. But, I know it can make a huge difference when you begin to see yourself in a better light.
Being happy ties in with all of that. We put too much stock into “having” and often feel that if there’s something we want and don’t have, then we can’t be happy. Having doesn’t only refer to inanimate objects. Some feel that without a romantic relationship, a boat load of friends, or close ties to family, that their lives are missing something. So often we let our relationships define our level of happiness. We need others to like ourselves and we need them to be happy.
Something many used to tell me when I was often single and bitter about it is that I needed to learn to be happy with who I was before I could be happy with anyone else. It sounds so cliche sometimes, but I have come to see that it’s very true. We don’t need to be attached to someone to be happy. It is nice to have people in our lives that care for us, want to spend time with us, and make memories with us. I do feel like a big part of why we’re here is to be with others, give joy and love, and get it in return. But, it doesn’t or at least it shouldn’t define who we are. We need to be our own individuals, alone and even when we’re surrounded by loved ones. Losing ourselves within others so that it becomes hard to tell who we are anymore isn’t a good thing.
And if material possessions and money is what we think will make us happy, we’ll never have enough and we’ll never be happy. Having the latest gadgets, driving an awesome car, living in a very nice house, and the like isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. It’s okay to own things, especially when you’ve worked hard to buy them. Enjoy the things we are given and the things we can buy, just don’t let having things become more important than the people around you. Happiness they say can’t be bought and in many ways, I agree with that. Yeah, we can buy things that make us laugh, make life easier, and enjoy life. But, they’re just things. In the end, I feel that there’s a lot more to life than what we have. Sitting outside and enjoying a sunset, feeling the wind on our skin, listening to a bird sing, watching a baby take their first steps, and other things that you can’t put a price tag on are so important. Happiness is not so hard to obtain when you know where to find it. It is something that starts with us and then works its way outward. Trying to find it in others or in things will only leave us frustrated and feeling unhappy.
Love is a word I feel that can’t be readily defined. I also feel that it’s more than a word. It is a word and it has meaning. But, it is also a feeling and an action. There are many forms of love. Again, so many put so much stock into romantic relationships when talking about the word love. That kind of love is real and it is powerful, definitely not a form to be underrated or dismissed. But, it is not the only form of love out there. We feel love towards our family – children, parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. That form of love is also very real and powerful, but it is not the same as the love we’d feel for our spouse/partner. And even within familial love, those forms are different as well. The love one would feel for their child is not the same as the love they’d feel for say their cousin or sibling. There’s also the love felt between friends as well. Let us not forget the love we feel for ourselves, any God we may follow, pets, and even things like our passions. Each form of love is very real and not to be overlooked.
The feelings it leaves with us is intense and it has the power to change our lives. It has the power to heal and to save. Love is an amazing power that some overlook. It’s not just simply shown by giving things on Valentine’s Day, someone’s birthday, an anniversary, etc. It’s not about gifts, gushy sentiments written in cards, or words we say. Yeah, those things are nice and of course, we can participate in those things. It’s not a bad thing to do, but it’s not necessary. Love is shown by how we treat ourselves and others. It is in the kindness we show, the respect we give, by listening, by willing to put another’s needs ahead of your own at times, and by being willing to also to take care of yourself too. It’s shown in the hugs we give, holding one’s hand, by simply being there during for someone during a rough time, by not talking about them behind their back, and by wanting them to be happy.
Love is a noun and it is a verb. It is not devoid of meaning and when saying it, it shouldn’t be used lightly. Do not tell someone you love them if you don’t, not even if you might and aren’t sure yet. When someone believes you love them and you really don’t, it’s a very hard thing to get over. Love is to be respected, even if you don’t feel the same way. Love is honest and it is kind. Love doesn’t deceive. When we have our hearts broken, it’s not love that has harmed us, it is the absence of it that does. And when we fail to love ourselves, we’re harming ourselves too. It’s weird how complex love seems and yet how simple it can be. When I hug my son or feel my daughter kick within my stomach, love seems incredibly easy. It’s not hard to love, even though sometimes it seems like it is. Loving people who are unkind or sometimes just loving ourselves seems likes an impossible thing to do. But, I find the more natural it is for someone to love, the easier it becomes to just do it. Sometimes learning to let love in is hard, very hard in fact. But, it is not impossible and once it takes hold, it can change your life forever and it gets easier from there.
We strive for beauty – to have it and to see it, for happiness – to obtain it and hold onto it, and for love – to find it, receive it, and never lose it. All three seem daunting, but when in the right frame of mind, all three are easier to achieve than thought possible. We just have to look inside ourselves to find all three and then project them outward.