“The beauty of the true ideal is its hospitality towards woundedness, weakness, failure and fall-back. Yet so many people are infected with the virus of perfection. They cannot rest; they allow themselves no ease until they come close to the cleansed domain of perfection. This false notion of perfection does damage and puts their lives under great strain. It is a wonderful day in a life when one is finally able to stand before the long, deep mirror of one’s own reflection and view oneself with appreciation, acceptance, and forgiveness. On that day one breaks through the falsity of images and expectations which have blinded one’s spirit. One can only learn to see who one is when one learns to view oneself with the most intimate and forgiving compassion.” – Beauty: The Invisible Embrace by John O’Donohue
Rather than attaching value to physical outer beauty, seek to manifest inner beauty. Physical youth is fleeting. No matter how much marketers attempt to sell their products promising extra time with physical youth, we all attain signs of outer aging. Therefore, avoid attachment to a period that is guaranteed to pass in order to avoid suffering when it is gone. As an individual do not place or hold your personal, financial, professional, social, and mental spheres in the balance of outer physical beauty. Likewise, refrain from associating another individual’s value to their appearance. Avoid the traps of finding pleasure too easily or without much thought. Temporary pleasures are not fulfilling versus enduring and significant pursuits.
Non-physical youth is everlasting; it sustains itself through the spirit. Craft the spirit in beautiful ways that are true to you such as creative expression, geographical exploration (regardless of destination, whether abroad or to a part of town never once visited), lighthearted playfulness, and with other interests that are immune to aging. Build your future based on elements that nothing or anyone can take away from you. In other words, invest your time on items that will endure a lifespan. Rather than finding yourself in an unhappy place in the future, take steps today to ensure you are fulfilled internally at every stage. Acknowledge your own beauty, the beauty in others, and the beauty in your environment.
Make peace with external imperfections; find comfort in knowing we all have imperfections, insecurities, and fears. The point is not to allow them to control us. Embrace your imperfections, since they make you impossible to imitate. There is certain astonishment attached to the thought that no one is capable of imitating you. Hence, duty calls for you to rise above the external and cultivate the internal. Understand there exists all kinds of beauty. An individual may find beauty in hearing a newborn cry for instance. Beauty is found in landscapes and music too. Decide if you will be the eccentric 80 year old painter with a great sense of humor or a 80 year old recalling the past. View the accumulated years as gifts offering wisdom, experience, and joy.
Let us start really seeing the beauty in everyone regardless of numerical age. Our potential as individuals and members of society is not limited to our 20’s. We have far more to offer than our external beauty; we have minds and hearts, which are only strengthened with age. Both are capable of offering lasting joy and fulfillment.