How to Appreciate Inner Beauty

It probably goes without saying that outer beauty and inner beauty go hand in hand. Even those blessed with the all the "right" physical features can be repugnant if they lack the internal depths to support their genetic looks lottery win. While society continues to define beauty in narrow, superficial terms (recall a recent "Maxim" article disparaging the "unsexiest" female celebrities?) as individuals we can choose to celebrate what lies inside as having equal--if not more--importance than what lies outside. Read on for inspiration on fine-tuning your appreciation of inner beauty.

Define it. While physical beauty is often defined by characteristics such as symmetrical features, smooth complexion and correct body proportions, inner beauty is harder to pinpoint. What is inner beauty to you? Is it the ability to listen without interruption, a willingness to jump to action when help is needed, a desire to relate to others without judgment or a knack for evoking laughter at just the right moment?

Groom your own inner beauty. You style your hair, file your nails and exercise your derriere to make yourself more beautiful on the outside. Inner beauty requires similar types of care and cultivation. Vow to groom your spirit daily by exhibiting your compassion, awareness, enthusiasm, optimism, grace, charm, intelligence and creativity. And remember, if you don't honor your own inner beauty, it will be hard for you to honor the inner beauty of those around you.

Recall your grandmother's clichés. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." "Beauty is as beauty does." "Clothes don't make the man." "All that glitters is not gold." "Never judge a book by its cover." There's a reason these adages have been around for eons: They're right on about appearances being misleading and true beauty being about more than looks. Perhaps you can even invent your own inner beauty cliché.

Let the eyes do the talking. You can tell a lot about people by looking in their eyes. Are they sparkling and alive or seedy and vapid?

Feel it out. Inner beauty is less about what you see when you look at a person and more about how you feel when you are around a person. You will feel safe, calm, inspired and connected when in the presence of a beautiful spirit.

Avoid superficial smack talk. Eliminate statements like: "What's wrong with that lady's hair?" and "Look at that horrible outfit!" from your vocabulary. This type of conversation only reinforces shallow appearance obsessions.

When you see it, say it. Don't be shy about complimenting the inner beauty of your friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances and even strangers. Drawing attention to the inner beauty of others will encourage them to cultivate their inner beauty even further.

Surround yourself with people who make appreciating inner beauty a top priority. Attitudes, values and perspectives are just as contagious as the flu, so if you want more inner beauty in your life, you need to spend time with people who share your healthy ideals.