By Sarah saige laughlin

It’s easy to confuse beauty for happiness. What do we say when something is particularly awe-inspiring, or meaningful? We say it’s beautiful. We don’t say something that’s academically challenging or politically astute is beautiful. We only use that word when there’s something astounding in front of us.

It’s easy to begin to believe that to look beautiful is to feel beauty. We exist with an image of ourselves in our minds. How that image interacts with the world dictates our perception of it. It’s why we do things like style our hair or get tattoos or wear a certain style of clothing.

Who we think we are determines how we behave, which determines who we become. It all begins with our perception, though. 

Self-image is kind of like anything else that goes on in our minds: it either works for us or against us. The problem is that we begin to define that image by how it appears, and not what it does.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the better you look, the better your life will feel. We all grow up seeing the popular kids effortlessly moving through life. We see their beautiful exteriors and think they must feel as good on the inside. Of course, we are very wrong about this, and if we don’t realize that the feeling of beauty doesn’t mean happiness, we spend our lives attributing our lack of happiness to not “looking” the right way.

It is not the way we look that’s wrong, it’s the way we see our lives, and ourselves.

Do you know what’s even more amazing than finding your soul mate because you’re beautiful? Finding love even when you think you’re not. Being loved in your ugly, scarred, average body. Do you know what’s even more amazing than achieving your ideal body? Making the body you have the one you want. Do you know what’s better than hiding yourself under clothes, or cropped photos, or anything else that covers you up? Being proud of who you are and how you look.

Do you know what’s even more amazing than spending your life trying to look beautiful? Realizing that through your body, you can feel and experience true beauty – and a whole lot of other things – and not one of them depends on how you appear.

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