Selife

I am a believer in “selfies”, I’ve talked about this before. Selfies, of course, being self-portraits, usually taken with one’s smartphone or webcam, or a camera with a timer. Selfies can be taken alone, or with others to add some variety and fun. How does taking pictures of ourselves help us realize our potential and approach fulfillment and true happiness? Self-confidence is the largest contributor to our success, our happiness, our fulfillment, our ability to evolve into the person we hope to be, the person we choose to be, the person we deserve to be. If we don’t believe in ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to? By taking pictures of ourselves, selfies, we become more comfortable with who we are, what we look like, we learn to enhance our smile, our look, the angle that the camera favors most. Basically, we learn to find a way to like the way we look, which makes us feel more confident about our appearance, we feel better about ourselves, and this, in turn, being the truth in beauty and handsomeness, just makes us look even better. It’s self-perpetuating.

I am often with people who resist having their picture taken, they don’t like the way they look. In other words, they are walking around the planet, on a daily basis, going out into public, working, shopping, visiting, unhappy with their appearance. Ashamed for one reason or another. Can you imagine how this must drain one’s self-confidence? How can we be confident if we are ashamed of our appearance, or simply unsure or uncertain of our beauty? True, none of us are truly immune. Many very beautiful people underestimate their looks. The truth of the matter is that beauty truly does come from within. Beauty is a beacon of confidence. Can you think of a star, a model, or some personality that is deemed beautiful in spite of the fact, when really looked at, feature by feature, are somewhat less than classic beauty? There are surely as many less than beautiful beautiful people as there are truly beautiful beautiful people. Start really looking at what Hollywood, the fashion world and the media consider beautiful. So much of what we consider beauty, on the exterior, is make up, airbrushing, artificial enhancements, professional photography and superior lighting. And we all use these images as a measure for our own appearance, and, if we fall a degree short, we become ashamed of our appearance and our confidence suffers.

Building self-confidence and developing a strong sense of self, a strong self-image is one of the first and most important steps on the path to fulfillment and happiness. A strong self-image and the resulting self-confidence is what we will rely on in our effort to evolve. Whether today is the first day of your journey to a happier and more fulfilled version of you, or if you’ve been on the path to ever increasing happiness, success and enlightenment for years, our self-confidence is always a work in progress. We don’t just achieve self-confidence and we’re done, like nourishing our bodies with regular meals, our self-confidence requires regular care and nourishment. If we simply stop eating we waste away and become malnourished, hungry, and eventually starve. If we eat poorly, our bodies and our overall health suffer. Our self-confidence is no different. We will need to feed it and we will need to nourish it with high quality ingredients to keep it from starving, to keep it healthy and vibrant.

We must make a daily practice of thinking and behaving in ways that bolster, rather than undermine, our self-confidence. This can begin with the practice of meditation, affirmations, expressing gratitude, eating clean, vigorous exercise, healthy relationships and friendships, reading nourishing books, blogs and articles, acquiring a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity, healthy self-speak, and, yes, even a daily selfie.

We love to see progress and by keeping an album, either in print or digitally, of our selfies, we can see the self-confidence illuminate, by degree, day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year. The more comfortable we become with our image, the comfortable we become with ourselves and the more confidence we gain.

To demonstrate the power of self-confidence, try this little social experiment; dress in your homeliest clothes, don’t do your hair, your makeup, or anything. Now go somewhere very public like a shopping center, a mall, or a tourist attraction. Walk around and think to yourself, over and over, as you walk, “I look terrible. I look awful. I feel ugly.” And I’ll bet you do. You are probably somewhat slouched in posture, you are looking down or away from people. There is nothing about you that says “confident”. I’ll bet people pass by you without really looking at you, you blend in and your negative self-speak makes you somewhat invisible. Now go home, take a nice shower, have a nourishing meal, say your affirmations, get dressed up, do your hair and makeup, if applicable, and go back to the same spot. This time, think very positive, uplifting thoughts about yourself, “I look great, I am beautiful/handsome, I like the way I look, I feel awesome, I’m amazing.” My guess is, you are looking up, looking at the faces of those you pass, making eye contact, smiling, and getting smiles in return. You are a beacon of confidence and you get noticed, favorably, as a result. And, getting noticed favorably further boosts your confidence. Several years ago, I had my Girl Scouts perform a similar experiment at a local festival to demonstrate PMA, positive mental attitude. They had fun with the experiment and learned the power that lies within to change, not only how you feel about yourself, but also, how others perceive you. It’s pretty powerful. All we need to do now is adopt the second experiment as our daily modus operandi.

When I was younger, I loved to take pictures, and more, I loved to be in pictures. If there was a camera around, I was likely close by, hoping to be included in the photo. With friends, I was usually the one, and still am, that insisted a group photo be taken. I usually had a camera handy, with a timer, and would facilitate such a photo. There was also a phase in my life where my self-confidence and self-image were poor. And in that period of time there are very few pictures of me. The pictures I saw of myself, I loathed. I took many pictures of my kids, their friends, family, sights and scenery, but I rarely allowed the camera to be turned towards me. When I undertook the project of empowering myself with self-confidence once again, after reading books and listening to audiobooks, I learned of many ways to bolster and rebuild the confidence that once carried me happily through life. One book I read suggested the “selfie”. I practiced this, taking dozens of pictures to keep the one I could almost stand to look at. With daily practice and diligence, I amassed a collection of “selfies” I was happy with, that I actually quite enjoyed looking at. And with each click of the shutter, each photo added to my album, my confidence grew and my happiness, fulfillment and success grew in response.

Though a small part of regaining self-confidence through a healthier self-image is just a small piece of the puzzle, it is demonstrative of how the whole puzzle goes together. We may take dozens of pictures to find one we’re satisfied with, at first, as we become more and more comfortable with ourselves. In our journey, we may try many, many, many different ways to make strides in regaining our self-confidence, some we will be pleased with, others we will likely discard. Like getting the perfect shot, the perfect selfie, finding the perfect steps, practices or means to rebuilding our self-image and our self-confidence, we may make many, many, many attempts before we are satisfied, before we find something that works. We simply need to stick with it, we simply need to continue to make the effort. Life itself becomes a selfie, the picture you make it.

As an avid hiker, I am rather notorious for always wanting to see what’s around the next bend on the trail. This is true, as well, in driving through new cities, or walking through an urban center I’ve not visited before. I am curious and have an insatiable appetite for wanting to see just a bit more. This is how our journey towards happiness, fulfillment and reward should be. We should always be striving to see what lies ahead, what’s around the next bend in the trail, the next intersection in the road, the next block in the city. Never be satisfied, there is always more, there is always room to evolve further. Self-confidence, like exploring a trail through the woods, is never truly complete, there is always more to explore, another adjoining path, a trail up the hill to the left, down into the valley on the right. Never stop.

We, alone, have the power to become exactly the person we desire to be. We, alone, have the power to evolve into a happy, successful, enlightened and fulfilled person. But, we, alone, must decide to do so, we must take the initiative, make the commitment and fuel the evolution. Getting comfortable with who we are, inside and out, is going to be one of the keys to unlocking our potential. Silly though it may sound, and silly it may seem, especially as you begin the practice, a daily selfie is going to assist you in your effort. I swear it. So, get that camera, practice your most winning smile and shine on! You beacon of confidence!

 

 

How to Have a Hot Body! Mirrors and Pictures and Porn! Oh My!

You hear a lot these days about having a “healthy body image”. I need clarification. Does that mean we should be healthy about our body image as is, or should we have an image of ourselves healthy? Having struggled with this in the past a bit myself, I really think the latter should be the goal. I think it is important to love your body enough to want to make it healthy. I think in making an effort to evolve into more healthy ways, for the sake of our bodies, it is important to nurture and care for, appreciate and savor, in every positive nuance, every positive change.

We were all given a body to carry us through our lives. I, personally, choose to do everything in my power to make it and keep it has healthy as possible. That I think healthy bodies are more attractive is my opinion. That someone else prefers a more voluptuous physique is their opinion. To me, it does not come down to just shape or size, it comes down to health. It is absolutely and irrefutably proven that excess body weight, or voluptuousness, if you prefer, is less healthy and is linked to an increased risk of long-term health conditions, disease and even early mortality. Like my car, I do all the suggested maintenance so that it will last me as long as possible. And not cost me a ton of money to fix. Or suffer an early, untimely demise. But that is my opinion, again. Your opinion matters as much and may differ from mine. Ultimately, the point I want to impress upon you is that one of the biggest factors in self-confidence, a healthy self-esteem, happiness and fulfillment is going to be a healthy body image.

Stick thin, muscular or voluptuous aside, whatever you are, whatever you prefer for yourself, be proud of it and be proud of where you’re at in the process of becoming healthier, if that is your goal. Revel in the glory that is you and your journey if you choose to embark on one. If you are making an effort to evolve, no doubt, whether visible or not, your body is better today than it was yesterday. If you are happy with where you’re at, then rejoice and celebrate. The important thing is to love your body for what it is and what it does. If it looks like you want it to, fantastic. If it doesn’t, and you have realistic goals for how you want it to look, then worship your body by committing to those goals. In other words, no matter what your body looks like right now, love it. It is your home, a house for your soul. The one you get. The only one you get. And, like a house, if you don’t like the one you have, the best you can do is move. If you don’t like the body you see right now, then move. Get it?

What matters most, is that you are happy, comfortable, healthy and confident in the body you have. And if you aren’t, you need to find a way to get there.

I have a friend, I’ve known her for over twenty years, which is about how old she was when we first met. She has the healthiest body image of anyone I have ever met. She is absolutely confident and happy with every, single part of her body. She dresses to accentuate the good and to reveal the best. That she dresses flamboyantly may be an understatement, but she illuminates every room she walks into with her confidence first, and the vibrant hue of her attire second. I have never seen her tug uncomfortably at any article of clothing to hide or camouflage any part of her figure, though it is good, great even, it is certainly not perfect. I have never seen her strike a strategic posture to mask something about her figure she was uncomfortable with. In the twenty some years I’ve know her, she has matured from barely past teenage to a woman, a mother and now a forty-something. And through that all, yes, there have been some additional pounds here and there, but still, she is fit, she is healthy, she is very physically active and, most important, she is as confident with her body image as ever. We should all want to be like that!

Really, we should, and I do. It is something I am making an effort to evolve towards, a healthier body image. I’m doing pretty well. At the very least, I have a clean and healthy lifestyle, with the possible exception of punishing my body with a little more wine than I should, here and there. With a great deal of commitment, and effort, I have a lifestyle that allows me to enjoy wearing the same size jeans I did in high school. This has not always been the case, I sort of lost my healthy body and healthy body image there for a decade. A decade and a half, if we’re being totally accurate. But, overall, I am pleased. I do my best to focus on the positive I see in myself; the way my jeans fit, my waistline, the tone in my arms and the shapeliness of my calves. I try not to focus on the things I can’t change or that will take longer to change; a scar, a stretch mark or two, the lack of tone in certain stubborn areas. I am, we are all, a work in progress, and just like any work of art, from the first brush stroke, from the first pinch of the clay, the first twist of wire, the first form of the glass, it is absolute beauty and only bound to improve with more work. Remember that.

Strategies for improving your body image:

Find a dream body double, someone, a celebrity or an athlete, whose body you admire, whose general physique is similar to your own. I admire Jennifer Aniston, Sophia Vergara, Eva Mendez, Jillian Michaels and Cameron Diaz. I know I will never have a body like Sophia Vergara. Never. I’d like a body like Jennifer, Eva, Jillian or Cameron, and while I may never achieve exactly that, it is not a totally unreasonable goal for me. Once you’ve selected some dream body doubles of your own, and, yes, I will share mine, if you like, go to Google Images and look at pictures of your body double, consider that your dream body image “goal”, if not your actual body composition goal. Notice how confident they look, so comfortable with who they are and how they look. Practice that. Learn to become so comfortable with who you are, in your body, that you can confidently look into the mirror, the camera, or just walk down the street, as you. So, when I look in the mirror, when I get dressed in the morning and undressed at night, I look in the mirror and see me, as Eva Mendez. Splendid!

For the ladies; I read a sensational book, and highly recommend it, “Veronica Monet’s Sex Secrets of Escorts: What Men Really Want”. It is a little racy, a little graphic, but, it is also full of fabulous suggestions and solid advice for acquiring a healthier body image, among other things. From looking at yourself in the mirror, to dressing yourself up, to taking pictures of yourself, all of which I have done, and do, and find incredibly empowering and rewarding. Once you get used to it. I have mirrors in every room, more than one. I make sure I can see a reflection of myself in almost every room I enter. It is against all things Feng Shui, but in this case, I will exercise my veto. The mirrors are a way to become more accustomed to you, your expressions, how you look. It is amazing how we are sometimes taken by surprise at our appearance if we aren’t accustomed to really seeing it frequently. Pictures provide a great benefit, as well. I try to take at least on “selfie” a day, either with my phone, my video camera or my computer camera. I have a whole gallery. And in that gallery of self, I can see the progression of self-confidence, the comfort I have gained with the camera and angles and lighting, make up, my hairstyles. I am okay with looking at me. I know this may come across as vanity, but it is really only an exercise in self-confidence. It isn’t vain to be comfortable with how you look, and to be accustomed to how you look in a mirror, on video, or in a picture. I cringe worse when I am around someone who gasps in horror when they see a picture of themselves, “I didn’t know I look like that!” than when I’m around people who are, perhaps, a little over-confident.

Know thyself. Another lesson from Veronica, but works for both genders. Learn about your individual body, its nuances, needs, preferences. Do whatever it takes, if you know what I mean. She recommends, “exploring” yourself, and, even, if you’re comfortable with it, watching some, yes, I’m going to say it, porn. The idea is to become more comfortable with our own sexuality, our sensuality, our power as a “goddess” (or god). Building our sexual confidence enhances our body image much more than we realize. There is a great deal of power, confidence and self-esteem derived from the fact that we are comfortable with ourselves in our sexual experiences. Men and women both prefer sexually confident partners in study after study after study. And knowing what you like, how you work, individually, and how to draw from your own power as “goddess” (or god) will enhance your enjoyment, as well, further inflating your body image. When we are more comfortable with our sexuality, which is something, sadly, that our society almost frowns upon, we become more empowered, more fulfilled, more attractive, have more enjoyable experiences and enhanced relationships by being more sensual, more knowledgeable and more confident.

On a tamer note; dress up, not down. No matter your size, your shape, your weight or your muscle tone, dress it up. Disguising your low self-esteem and poor body image in shapeless clothing only makes you feel worse. Clothing, fashion and all the wonders that go along with it are one of the biggest, simplest boosts to self-esteem we can garner. This is the one “immediate” fix, it may be the first step in the process to becoming the confident, diva, goddess (manly, god) you have locked inside of you. There are so many folks out there who hide behind a wall of fabric, cower in unshapely clothes and only dream of some far off day where they can wear “clothes like that”. Wear the damn clothes! Now! There are very fashionable, attractive clothes in every size and shape, made specifically to enhance and conquer! We’re talking swimsuits, pretty lingerie, jeans, dresses, blouses, shirts, suits, camisoles, whatever. Many fashion magazines have entire sections devoted to fashion for every body type. No one is discriminated against in the world of fashion anymore. Truly. A little wardrobe makeover and I guarantee, your body image will instantly improve enough you’ll want to take the next step.

Whether you are happy with the general shape of things, or if you plan to downsize or remain a plus size, matters not. We are all powerful, diva goddesses (or powerful, manly, deities, guys) and deserve to live a life with a healthy body image. Take some steps, read some books, some fashion magazines, search out other resources for positive advice for improving your body image. It is likely the single most important step in gaining the confidence we need to rule the world and to evolve into the happy, confident, fulfilled person we deserve to be.