I first saw these words on Pinterest from a quote by Lupita Nyong'o at the 7th Annual Essence Black Women In Hollywood Event. I will post the YouTube clip below because her words are very powerful and inspiring. In summary, when Lupita was a child, she prayed to God to make her skin lighter in color because she felt inadequate and not beautiful in today's society. After some inspiration from model Alek Wek, she realized beauty is not something you acquire/consume, it is something to be. Compassion is the main element which sustains you and when you show that to yourself and others around you, you are able to validate your external beauty and get to the deeper element of inner beauty. Being a white male, I will be the first to say I will never know what it feels like to be female or black, but I can understand the power of inner beauty through compassion.
It still amazes me the power a simple smile can hold. Next time you are walking down a busy street or crowded hallway, flash a smile at someone who is walking in the opposite direction. I have found the days someone smiles back are often my better days. It's hard to explain, but just a simple act of compassion, such as a smile, can be contagious and completely turn around someone's day or even life. There have been days when a friend has pulled me aside and has confessed they would be dead if it hadn't been for my kindness. It is a sad thought, but some of the happiest people could be contemplating suicide and there is really no way of knowing. By no means am I saying treat everyone like they are about to commit suicide, but keep it in the back of your mind that that is always a possibility.
It is very easy to look at another person and play the comparison game, 'they have nicer eyes', 'I wish I was that athletic', 'they seem to have it all together' and the truth of the matter is that they may be doing the same exact thing to you! Another quote I really enjoy is from Dr. Seuss, "Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you!" I really think this is one of the biggest pieces that most people forget. You are unique and that is something to celebrate! Even if you look like someone else, the "inner you" is still entirely different. Although it may seem like an odd exercise, talk to the people who you are close to and ask them what they like about you (externally and internally). Their answer may surprise you because it is something you have never heard before, sometimes it needs to be said by someone else (like Opera with Lupita) before you begin to believe it for yourself. Give it a try, flash a smile, show some compassion, or even get a second opinion on what makes you beautiful! Finding that beauty within will only inflame the heart and enchant the soul!