They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but how do we measure true beauty? Outer beauty is often the first thing we notice about a person, mainly because we’re programmed within society to be drawn to things that are aesthetically pleasing. In fact, when asked, ‘who is the most beautiful person in the world?’, most of us would jump to mention someone who is very outwardly attractive, thinking of their aesthetic appearance. We should, however, encourage ourselves to explore a little deeper and question what really makes someone beautiful.
"Beautiful people are not always good, but good people are always beautiful." Ali ibn Abi Talib
What exactly is inner beauty?
Inner beauty is something that can be found inside of a person. It’s discovered in the qualities people love and respect about us, which can’t always be judged in a split second. This is especially the case with inner beauty, which often takes time to be fully seen and appreciated.
Inner beauty reflects how you behave towards others
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou: civil rights activist and poet
Inner beauty is shown in how we treat ourselves and those around us. It goes far beyond our physical appearance. Instead, we can display our inner beauty by demonstrating qualities such as kindness, compassion, love, and honesty. Inner beauty can also be reflected on the outside: those with positive energy will radiate it through their smile, body language, or how they interact with others.
Inner beauty is the work of a lifetime
"Outer beauty is a gift. Inner beauty is an accomplishment." - Randi G. Fine.
Unlike our physical appearance, which is something we have limited control over, our inner beauty can be worked on throughout our lives. Qualities that make us beautiful inside, like our love, compassion, generosity, and wisdom, are all things we constantly have a relationship with and can keep working to improve.
Inner beauty is made to last
Outer beauty turns the head, but inner beauty turns the heart. - Helen J Russell
Although we’re often superficially drawn to outer beauty, inner beauty is a gift that only grows over time. The joy of getting to know a new person lies in learning about who they are and what makes them beautiful on the inside. Once you’ve seen the inner beauty inside someone’s heart, it’s infectious.
Five qualities of inner beauty and how you can display them
There are countless ways in which someone’s inner beauty can be shown, and everyone has their own unique character and ways of demonstrating theirs. Finding your own inner beauty is an essential part of self-discovery and a way to practice kindness and compassion for those around you. Here are five important qualities of inner beauty that you can find within yourself and share with those in your life.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” —Aesop
Kindness is not just about how we treat others but also how we treat ourselves. Our inner monologue can often be very self-critical, making it challenging to frame ourselves in a good light. Practicing self-kindness will not only make you feel happier in yourself but will also allow you to display kindness to others in return.
Next time you criticize yourself, try to notice it. Observing negative patterns in your behavior is the first step to understanding them—once you’ve identified the problem, you can begin to work on approaching things differently. Instead of focusing on ‘I wish I was…’, try noticing something you already have or are doing in your life that you’re grateful for. In time, you’ll appreciate yourself more and default less to critical thoughts.
This will also free up more energy and space for you to show acts of kindness to others. Appreciating the good things in yourself will put you in the right frame of mind to appreciate those same characteristics in others too. Before you know it, the kindness will be radiating from you!
“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively”. - Bob Marley
Having integrity means having strong moral principles; it’s the rules of how you live your life. Moral integrity is considered as doing the right thing when no one is watching, meaning good acts are not performative but come from a genuine desire to be a better person and follow a good moral code. Having integrity makes you a good influence on those around you, as your professional and personal relationships will benefit from your honesty and unwavering values.
If you want to practice integrity in your life, think about what really matters to you. What are your principles, what do you stand for, and what do you truly believe? Would you be willing to challenge someone or stand up and be the voice for someone else if needed? By having total clarity in your own moral code, you’ll be able to ‘practice what you preach’ and live a life that does justice to your values.
Beauty can be easily identified in someone with solid morals, and their influence can inspire and transform the lives of others.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” - Aristotle
Wisdom is almost the total opposite of outer beauty in that it’s not something we’re born with or that’s giftedto us; wisdom is built entirely from living, making mistakes, and using that learning to make good judgments. That’s why being wise is so commonly associated with being old, because surely those who have lived the longest have learned the most.
However, this isn’t necessarily true. A young person can be wise if they observe their situations and are willing to learn and grow from them. Having wisdom doesn’t just make others say, ‘oh, they’re so clever!’; it also allows us to make balanced and informed decisions pretty much every day of our lives. Wisdom empowers us to draw on past experiences and use them positively, setting necessary boundaries and showing self-respect as we move through the world.
Our wisdom is something we can constantly work on, and making mistakes is just an opportunity to learn and grow (sometimes, the best things blossom from something that seemed like a disaster at the time!). Having common sense, insight, and thoughtfulness about how you approach things will demonstrate your wisdom and inner beauty through your actions.
“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends.” —Jane Austen
Loyalty is arguably the most important quality to foster strong relationships in your life, be it with your partner, family, friends, and colleagues. Being loyal and sticking to your commitments shows people that you’re not only reliable but you’re also a secure person in their lives. Loyalty tells people that they are wanted in your life, which is empowering; it will manifest great people into your life who appreciate and return your values.
Self-loyalty, however, is a quality that can get neglected even in people who are wholeheartedly loyal to others. Being dedicated to yourself is an essential step for self-development and unleashing your inner beauty. By listening to and following your innermost needs, emotions and desires, you are being loyal to who you are.
Serving yourself precisely what you need, when you need it, is the ultimate example of self-care. Of course, this must be done with a balance to avoid selfishness, but being loyal and faithful to yourself is a guaranteed way to ensure you are taking care of you.When your needs are well met, you’ll be in a much stronger position to give more to others.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” - Buddha
Love is something we all know and experience. We feel it in different intensities and ways with the people in our lives, but it’s a uniting feeling that everyone can share in one way or another.
But before we start spreading our love, we need to turn back and look introspectively. In order to connect and be open to loving others, we need to learn to love ourselves first. The best first step to finding self-love is focusing entirely on how you see yourself without holding up the social mirror and making comparisons to others. Dive into what makes you unique and appreciate why you find that beautiful.
Remember that your value comes from within, and practicing self-love is all about appreciating the strength of your attributes. Saying positive affirmations about your good qualities—your warmth, kindness, openness, generosity—whatever they may be, will help remind you that you are worthy of love.
Loving yourself is part of embracing your inner beauty, and that love will become contagious. The important people in your life will benefit as you allow yourself to demonstrate this self-love by extending it to others. Love really is all you need!
Inner beauty can be found within us all, and one of the joys of life is discovering the beauty within others and yourself. What inner beauty can you appreciate in your own life and those important to you?