“I’m glad you’re not chunky, Mom,” one of my children whispered to me recently. We were out running errands and her comment caught me off guard. I often wonder how my children process the world. This was a glimpse into how she was perceiving it in that moment: As a child judging others based on their weight.

I’m glad I’m not out of shape, but not for her reasons. My children aren’t embarrassed of me because of my physical appearance but even if they were I would be okay with that. For me, it goes much deeper. I am in great shape not for the sole reason to look good, but because I want to feel good and be healthy. Imagine being in your forties, fifties, sixties and beyond, and being in the best shape of your life–not only physically, but emotionally and psychologically, too. It’s the whole package–not just the outside, but the inside, too. Being in good shape goes much deeper than the skin. Being vibrant and beautiful is an inside job.

I have always told my children that to be truly beautiful, one has to be beautiful on the inside, not just on the outside. You can be the prettiest or handsomest person out there (and really, how long does that last, anyway? And what may be beautiful to one person may not be beautiful to another), but for me you are not beautiful if you are mean or self-centered or depressed or lethargic or cold or not compassionate…you get the picture. You can be a perfect 10 on the outside, but for me, beauty must be present on the inside in order to be considered a beautiful person. Mother Theresa certainly would not be considered pretty, but she was a beautiful person. Her soul embodied beauty, not her physicality; her essence of who she was was stunningly beautiful.

Are you beautiful? We are so caught up in other’s looks, that we often overlook personalities and character, and what people are like on the inside. Looks fade; people’s cores do not. Many people are so caught up in not aging physically that they neglect to take care of their inner health. Psychologically, they cannot accept the aging process and instead cling to the idea of eternal youth. ”Faster, stronger, better” becomes a motto for them as they race against the physical clock, concerned about their outer physical appearance and neglecting their inner psychological and emotional health. Plastic surgery, new clothes, flashy cars, the latest in weight loss diet pills and surgery–looking for the quick fix that never quite fixes the issues at hand. These are band-aid solutions to something that goes much deeper.

Beauty is found by going inward, not by searching outward, outside of ourselves. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve been blessed by good looks, if you are like the Grinch or are self-centered or mean…you’ll never be beautiful. Looks fade; what you are eventually left with is yourself. Do you like yourself? Many people don’t and they run from quick fix to quick fix thinking that if they can only package up the outside, people won’t notice. Trouble is, no matter how hard you try to fix up the outside, eventually life catches up to you.

There’s nothing wrong with being pretty or handsome or being in great shape. What is even better is to work on your psychological and emotional make-up. When you are psychologically healthy, you show the world a vibrancy that no beauty product or surgical procedure could ever produce. This vibrancy translates to happiness as you begin to accept yourself as you are. You begin to like yourself. There is no substitute for inner beauty. No surgery or pill or lotion or exercise can purchase it. We all have that part of us, it just may need to be nurtured instead of neglected; used instead of abused.

Life is too short to neglect our inner beauty. We are all beautiful, it’s just that some people have covered up that part of themselves. There are many who have covered up their cores with layers of hurt and loss. Acknowledge that part of you, then work on letting it go. Let yourself shine so that your inner radiancy becomes a beacon of light in this world we live in. You don’t have to cover this part of yourself any longer. Instead show the world who you are–a vibrant being–a beautiful being.

Author's Bio: 

Nicole Nenninger is a coach and author who helps people to live authentic and fulfilling lives. With a master's degree in psychology and having written two books on divorce, Nicole doesn't just teach or write about what she's learned and experienced herself, she lives it. If you're interested in Nicole's work, you can visit her website at http://nicolenenninger.com or at http://mydailymotivator.com. She and her husband Don share a passion for helping others to create loving, authentic, and conscious relationships not just with others, but more importantly with themselves. Nicole and her new husband live in New York with their 4 children, 2 dogs, and cat. They are also avid runners and on any given weekend can be found competing in local road races. And when they aren't competing, now their children are!