You’ve taken quite the journey with us. You’ve learned about the hardware (Part 1 and Part 2) and software (Part 3) of beauty and sexuality. The time has come to talk about how you can create real beauty.
How to Trigger Innate Beauty Sensors
Any discussion of triggering beauty sensors must begin with skin.
Skin reveals our hormonal state and level of sexual excitement. After all, blushing is a clear sign of sexual excitement. On the flip side, pregnant women’s darker and more flushed skin acts like a stop sign for men. (So is the big waist, which may explain why being slim is part of the hardwired beauty archetype!) Skin is the largest organ and, unlike our primate relatives, our most visible organ. And ever notice that touch feels better without hair?
Most enhancements are focused on improving the quality of skin. Why? Because it is the most powerful indicator of health and aging. It reveals health issues, such as liver disease, anemia, and poor immune function, all of which may decrease fertility and certainly could limit lifespan. It shows the wear and tear of day-to-day existence. Skin shows wrinkling due to loss of collagen–a direct result of declines in estrogen. So once again, we see a powerful and direct link between decreased fertility and decreased attractiveness.
Yes, since our skin has the power to make us look very beautiful…or the reverse, billions of dollars are spent annually in the U.S. The totals are staggering. The US spends more money per year (more than $40 billion) on beauty products than any other nation.
Another surefire way to trigger innate beauty sensors is with the waistline. You probably didn’t need me to tell you that, but at least I can explain why. When young girls experience hormonal changes, they lose their straight-line figures and transform into a classic hourglass shape. Waist to hip to ratio below .8 has twice as great a chance of becoming pregnant as those above .8. Guess there is some truth in advertising (Marilyn Monroe and Elle McPherson are both .7).
So again, the men who noticed these characteristics had better reproductive success, so we can’t help but take notice now. Exaggerated feminine characteristics are attractive. It’s like taking a sign and making it neon. The ultra-feminine Barbie doll has a ratio of .54. Never mind that she would have no room for her colon or other vital organs, she looks hot!
Over one billion Barbies have been sold since 1959, when she first hit the scene! Women, what’s the first thing to go when we are pregnant or hit menopause? Yep, our waistline. Once again, sending a signal but not necessarily the one we want to send to all those who view us. Ladies, we better get to Pilates or yoga class!
Beauty matters. So forgive yourself the next time you turn your neck to check out a young woman passing by. Yes, both men and women do it. After all, fertility is a competitive business. If you are the only woman left on the planet, you will look incredibly beautiful. Until then, it’s natural to want to look around. Acknowledging our innate beauty receptors helps liberate us from their ancient hold and empowers us to direct our behaviors in ways that seem more fitting.
Creating Meaningful Beauty
Now that we have a scientific understanding of beauty, we can look at the health variables that lead to beauty. Being physically beautiful is simply the outward display of health. As we grow older, we must add to the superficial means of enhancing beauty (tactics such as applying make-up, changing hairstyle, and wearing the right shoe) and look more at the strategies, lifestyle, and mindset that meaningful beauty demands. Think of tactics as Spanx and strategies as Pilates. One imitates, the other creates.
This list shouldn’t surprise you now that you know what physical beauty is about.
- First, there’s sleep. A proper night’s sleep is a key anti-aging ingredient, and we already know that youth equals beauty. Without good sleep, everything suffers. As we age, our ability to sleep well may diminish; fortunately, there are many effective ways to improve sleep. To get your optimal amount of sleep (7-8 hours for most men, 8-9 hours for most women), you need to practice good sleep hygiene. That means picking a consistent time to go to bed and wake up every day.
If you sleep in on the weekends to catch up, you are actually sabotaging your sleep during the week! Also, avoid all devices (smartphone, laptop, tablet, TV) for at least one hour before bedtime. Their bright lights will confuse your brain, sending signals that it’s time to get going, not fall asleep.
Make sure you sleep in a comfortable, dark room and use the bed only for the three S’s: sleeping, sex, and sickness. Keep caffeine to a minimum and stop all caffeine by 2-4 pm. Avoid all liquids after dinner. This advice may sound simple, but very few people actually follow these steps. If you do, you are sure to be looking and feeling better in the morning.
- Minimize your exposure to toxins. That means sun exposure, chemicals, alcohol, and drugs. This is not a moralist prescription; this is where science has clearly shown the connections between toxins and health, and we’ve identified a lot of toxins. Drugs and/or alcohol at night can dramatically impact sleep. For example, alcohol may make it easier for you to fall asleep but prevent you from cycling into the deeper restorative stages of sleep, leaving you prone to waking during the night and feeling poorly rested the next day.
- Protect your skin. As we said earlier, smooth, clear skin is a key component of innate beauty. Make sure you are protecting yours. Sun damage leads to increased aging as well as a variety of cancers. Women underestimate the power of sunscreen in helping them look beautiful as they age. Use one daily and repeat it when spending time outdoors. The early you incorporate sunscreen into your daily beauty routine, the better.
- Minimizing toxins also means eating right. A diet high in salt, sugars, processed carbs, and sodas do not create beauty; a diet heavy in healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables does. Certain foods are particularly good at making us look beautiful. Those foods are the ones rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. They make our skin look good, hair lustrous, and nails stronger.
Remember the International Mate Selection Study? These are exactly the qualities that make us look beautiful. Omega 3 fatty acids are also brain food, and as previously discussed, a positive mental outlook is very attractive. So grab the salmon, anchovies, walnuts…as often as you can.
Junk food is called junk for a reason, so think about what you are trying to create when you wander around the supermarket. Junk? Or lasting physical beauty? Viewing your choices through this lens will allow you to make very positive choices. It is not about denying yourself anything. It’s about allowing yourself to reach your maximum potential by using every tool available, and every meal is an opportunity to show yourself how committed you are to creating lasting beauty.
- Exercise improves everything. Exercise increases blood flow. Exercise improves gait and posture. Exercise helps you sleep better. It improves your mood, libido, skin tone, and ability to think and learn. Always make time for exercise, even if it’s just 30 minutes a day. Maintaining beauty as we age is a challenge and fighting back at the gym is essential to holding on to all the beautiful qualities you possessed in your youth.
I subscribe to the recommendations by Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge, MD, in Younger Next Year. They suggest an hour a day, two hours on the weekend, and one day off so the body is prepared for various demands.
- Manage stress. Easier said than done, I know. But many of our daily stresses can be managed, and the payoffs are enormous over the long term. Every time you experience stress, your cortisol levels rise, and overproduction of cortisol has been connected to heart or lung diseases and cancer and doesn’t make anybody’s skin look good.
Traditional meditation works for some, mindfulness for others. A daily walk can help manage stress and take care of exercise, all simultaneously. Seek therapy and guidance from friends and professionals. We live in incredibly complicated times, and we are all in need of support in one area or another.
- Train your mind to see beauty in more places. I have a friend who is a fashion photographer, and he’s actually gotten bored of having his innate beauty receptors triggered. He thinks wrinkles are beautiful. They show character and tell you something about how the person has lived. This mindset is available to everyone!
You have to train your mind to see the real elements of beauty, not something dragged into your DNA from more than two million years ago. Your job is not to see beauty then but now. Your hardwired, innate beauty sensors will always fire, but you can develop beauty sensors of your own.
We call these evolving beauty sensors. Everywhere you go, with everyone you see, look for beauty. The more you look at others with your new eyes, the more you will see this beauty in yourself.
Meaningful Beauty = Health
It’s that simple. Meaningful beauty is focused on the strategies that build health, which results in looking and feeling beautiful. Not only should we bring a focus to the foundations of beauty built by health, but we must also appreciate the power of the mind to project beauty.
A fascinating article by Steven Dayan highlighted that one’s perception of beauty was more powerful than any other factor. He said:
For every point on a scale of 1-11 that a female is ranked more beautiful, she makes 50 cents more money, but for every point she ranks herself higher on that same scale she makes 86 cents. … It is those who think they are beautiful that actually gain the most benefits.
Our brains have “mirror neurons” that fire when we watch others engage in activities and express emotions. Hence, emotions are contagious. If you think you are beautiful, others will too. And to further convince them, stand up straight and smile. Go ahead. Try it on yourself. Get your best smile and best posture.
Go to your mirror and tell yourself you are 20 percent more beautiful than you thought last time. Let your new trained eyes that have evolved into seeing more beauty focus on all the positives you see in the mirror. Others can’t help but see you as beautiful unless they are very unevolved, and that’s not your problem!
Science shows that real beauty–meaningful beauty–is within the grasp of everyone, and it is definitely worth grabbing. Your life depends on it.