An Extreme Makeover from The Inside Out

black t shirt

It seems that everyone is getting a makeover these days – if something can be nipped, tucked, removed, or camouflaged, you don’t have to look far to find someone having it done. On the other hand, there aren’t as many people undergoing extreme makeovers from the inside, which is too bad because this non-surgical, needle-less process provides a great opportunity to improve yourself without weeks of recuperation and sky high medical bills. Not to mention that the results of an internal makeover are much longer-lasting; once you become a strong, confident, giving, and compassionate person on the inside, those traits make you beautiful on the outside.

Here are nine ways to make over your life from the inside out:

1. Brighten your smile by flashing it more often. A smile is not only the best fashion accessory a woman can have, it also helps you connect with family, friends, neighbors, and strangers; that connection is really what life is all about. Try these smile-brightening techniques:

o Spend more time with people who bring you joy. When you are joyful your smile comes from your heart, and there is nothing in the world more attractive.

o Dedicate fifteen minutes today to play, whether with your kids, your companion animals, or your co-workers. Letting your inner 5-year old out for recess may be just what it takes to get you to show your pearly whites again.

o When you feel terrific, notify your face! Don’t keep your good day to yourself – broadcast it one smile at a time.

o When anyone asks you how your day is going, no matter how badly, say “Terrific!” with a huge smile. Studies show that faking a smile can make you feel more like really smiling almost immediately.

2. Get rid of your irritable scowl by basking in contentment. Got frown lines? Instead of running for the Botox, ask yourself why. Is it perhaps from feeling discontented with your life? When things don’t satisfy us, we tend to frown more often. Feeling discontent can also stir up other negative emotions – jealousy, greed, frustration, exhaustion (because we have to work so hard to get the things we think we need to make us feel content), and all of those register on our faces (and not in a good way!)

That world-famous author, Anonymous, has a quote I really like that goes like this, “Measure wealth not by the things you have but by the things you have for which you would not take money.” Being content does not come from having more, but from appreciating what you already have and sharing it with others. To feel more content and loosen up that frown, try these steps:

o Empty out one room in your house entirely. Stand inside for fifteen minutes. It feels big and full of potential, right? Now only put back things that make you content (sorry, that jackalope statue you got at the flea market last year will just have to go!)

o Invite someone whose life you envy to lunch this week. No matter who we are or how much we have, we all seem to want something we don’t have. Those with little money want a lot. Those with a lot want more time for themselves. Those with a lot of time for themselves want something that makes them feel needed and useful. Choose a friend you think has it all and find out what they envy about your life.

o Practice saying “I have enough” over and over. Say it when you’re in the grocery story, tempted by something you don’t really need. Say it when your neighbor gets a new car. Say it when you can’t sleep and you’re up watching infomercials and are tempted to order that machine that cuts hair and doubles as a fishing pole!

3. Give yourself heartlights. Highlighting makes your hair shine. Heartlightening makes your whole life shine. Heartlightening is the act of choosing to be cheerful not because the world is a great place all the time, but because it’s better when you embrace it with a positive spirit. I once heard a story about a man named Jerry who always chose a light approach to his life, even after he’d been shot in a robbery. When the emergency room nurse asked him if there was anything he was allergic to and he replied, “Bullets.”

Many people believe that those who are light-hearted – who laugh quickly, don’t carry grudges, or dwell on disappointment – must have easy lives. Or maybe they just don’t understand how terribly serious the world is. This, of course, isn’t true. Light-hearted people have just learned to seek out the light in everything, from gray days to annoying people. If you need as few more heartlights, try these steps:

o Get rid of one somber item from your wardrobe and replace it with a Hawaiian shirt. It’s really hard to take life seriously when you’re wearing flamingos!

o Change your internal wardrobe too by replacing one negative phrase you often use with another that is more positive. For example, if you often say to yourself, “I’m feeling blue,” replace it with “Whenever I feel blue, I just remember to breathe again!”

o Vow to try to lighten up everyone’s day today. Tell a joke or a funny story about something that happened to you. Make it your goal to leave everyone you talk to giggling. You can even use a feather, but not on strangers!

o Practice “Tootsie Pop Therapy.” Next time your heart feels heavy, pop a Tootsie Pop in your mouth. In the time it takes to get all the way to the chewy center, you will have had plenty of time to think about ways to lighten up (and it keeps your mouth too busy to say something you’ll be sorry for later!)

4. Put a little elasticity in your life. As we get older, we often tend to focus on the lack of elasticity in our skin; our breasts aren’t as perky as they used to be, our arms a little flabbier, our chin a little droopy. We should really pay less attention there and more attention to how quickly we bounce back from adversity and stress. That’s the kind of elasticity that’s really important. After all, when your heart isn’t resilient, you can’t just buy a stronger bra!

You can improve your resilience:

o Help someone undergoing adversity. Don’t just say you’ll be there if they need you, make a list of things you can do and ask them to check off any of them they could use your help with. By helping others through hard times, you will develop skills that will help you bounce back from your own problems.

o Buy a Slinky to keep on your desk as a reminder of how far you can stretch and still return to your original shape. The next time you feel yourself being pulled to your limits, imagine you are that Slinky (only wearing clothes. You are wearing clothes, aren’t you?)

o Write down the biggest personal crisis you have faced in the past year on a sheet of paper. Maybe you had a lump in your breast, were laid off from your job, or lost a loved one. Then make a list of at least five ways you got stronger because of the crisis. Carry the list in your wallet and pull it out whenever you’re faced with lesser challenges. Each time you grow from adversity you add to the resilience with which you will be able to face the next challenge.

5. (De)Lighten your load. Carrying too big a load can make anyone look exhausted and drained. There are many ways to lighten your load, but I believe that aspiring to become more delightful is one of the best. Remember the words to the theme song to the old The Mary Tyler Moore Show? “Who can turn the world on with her smile? Who can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?” That’s a great description of a delightful person – one who realizes that by making the world a better place all around, it becomes better for you as well. (De)lighten your load by trying some of these:

o Give total a total stranger a compliment. I was recently in a restaurant for lunch when a man walked in wearing a beautiful electric blue shirt. Rather than just mention it to my lunch partners, I said as he passed our table, “What a gorgeous shirt, I think it deserves some applause,” and the three women I was with clapped. You could tell from his huge smile and the bow he took that we made his day.

o Always carry hard candy and new york yankees zip up hoodie biscuits in your purse (keep them in separate baggies!) so that children and dogs will always welcome you.

o Don’t be afraid to be though of as the “weird aunt” or the “eccentric friend.” These are the people who truly make life more fun.

6. Shed a few pounds of cynicism and get down to your compassionate self. When you get on the scale in the morning, is the weight of the world sitting on your shoulders? Maybe the only way to reach your ideal internal weight is to get rid of that voice that says “I can’t make a difference” and do something to make the world less heavy. As Mother Theresa once said, “We cannot all do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Even if you can’t take time out from your regular life to serve in the Peace Corps or live the type of life Mother Theresa did, you can take a few simple steps to begin to uncover your compassion.

o Sign up to be an organ donor. Donating your organs when you no longer need them so that others may live is one of the most munificent things you can do in life (and beyond.)

o If you get your hair cut this week and you have a lot of it, donate your shorn tresses to Locks of Love ( This organization makes wigs it provides free to children with cancer.

o Call an animal organization in your community this week (look in your local yellow pages or log onto for a complete list of more than 35,000 organizations) and ask what’s on their wish list. Enlist your friends and neighbors to donate everything on that list. It doesn’t have to cost much; many shelters need old blankets and towels, for example.

o If you enjoy going to garage sales, keep an eye out for warm coats, sweaters and blankets you can buy inexpensively. Collect these and donate them this fall to your local homeless shelter or mission.

7. Make the big reveal of your authentic self. At the end of every makeover show, they reveal the “new person” after the team of doctors, make-up artists, and fashion stylists have done their part in recreating the individual in question. But I always wonder, how long does the makeover last? How long until the now-gorgeous woman lets her hair go back to its natural style, puts on her sweats and tennis shoes, and only exercises on her way to the refrigerator?

The best part about revealing your real self, it that you’re not being remade to fit someone else’s definition of beauty, you’re simply peeling back layers and masks to let the real you shine through. To uncover your authentic self, try one or more of these approaches:

o Identify one person you’re no longer going to try to impress. It’s a lot of work trying to impress everyone all the time. So stop trying to convince your mother-in-law you’re a good cook. Or acting as if you like football just to fit in with the guys (or your mother-in-law).

o Spend one night this week completely alone to reintroduce yourself to yourself. No kids, no spouse, no phone, no TV, no books, no games. Just you and yourself, and a pad of paper and a pen so you can take notes on important things that come up.

o Speak up for yourself. If someone tells a joke that offends you, ask them to stop. If someone hurts your feelings, let them know. We can’t be our authentic selves unless we speak our hearts.

o Start keeping a diary or journal.

8. Help make over someone else’s life. Unlike on talk shows where someone writes in to beg the host to make over their sister or best friend, reaching outside yourself to help someone else realize their life makeover dreams can change both of you forever (and no one has to be embarrassed on national television).

o Help teach a child or an illiterate adult to read. Talk about changing someone’s life. Imagine if you had to struggle through everyday life without being able to read the newspaper, your mail, the labels on packages, etc. A commitment to helping someone become literate is a long-lasting gift not only to that person, but also to his or her family and community.

o Give something you own but don’t really use to someone else who really needs it.

o Learn sign language. Being able to talk to someone with a hearing impairment can open up the world for that person.

o Become a mentor. Helping someone else achieve the dream you’ve found is a great way to redo two lives at the same time.

o If you don’t have school age children at home now, go the play or recital of a friend’s child and clap as if they were your own.

9. Learn to accept your flaws as well as those of others. The same tendency to dwell on our too-curvy hips or too-wide nose is what makes us less tolerant of imperfections in those around us. Learning to accept and even celebrate our differences in life cuts down on stress and conflict (and the frown lines those bring!) Here are a few ways to become a more tolerant person this week:

o Talk to people you don’t usually have conversations with (e.g., the newspaper boy, the school janitor, the woman who lives out of a shopping cart with her two cats.) Getting to know other people as people and not just stereotypes reminds us that we’re all beautiful.

o Ask someone older or younger than you or from a different ethnicity to lunch.

o Pet a pit bull puppy (but ask its people first). Pit bulls are one of the most discriminated against of all creatures because a few bad guardians have turned their animals hostile. This is your chance to reevaluate your opinion of all creatures while getting a little puppy love.

o Get rid of word to word “normal” in your vocabulary. There is no such thing as “normal.” You may tell yourself “Normal people don’t wear their hair in dreadlocks,” or “Normal people don’t take their pet peacock to work in their bicycle basket,” but we all have our own idiosyncrasies that make us “abnormal.” As soon as you stop judging people by what’s normal, you’ll become more open-minded and tolerant of yourself and others.

At some point in your life, you may still want to have a little work done on the outside, but if you’re proud of who you are inside, your real beauty will shine through in everything you do.

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write by Odette