Excerpt: 'You: Being Beautiful'

The beauty of these three kinds of beauty is that they're all tied together: Looking as good as you like helps you feel good about yourself, which serves as the foundation for developing that sense of authenticity and deeper purpose that so many of us crave as we search for meaning in our lives. Plus, being authentic and happier makes you physically more attractive.

Now, let's get one thing straight so you can relax a bit. You wouldn't be here unless your ancestors were beautiful. You need to accept the fact that we're all beautiful; sexual selection guaranteed it, because your ancestors mated with the most beautiful partners. We all have beautiful elements in us; we're going to talk about ways that we can expose and maximize them.

The beauty industry is one of the biggest money-takers around (it sells us a lot). We have cosmetics companies and cosmetic surgeons. We have super-models with their own magazine covers, commercials, and reality shows. We're obsessed with fashion and our weight. We fret over inopportune pimples in inopportune places. We exercise our bodies, we scrub our faces, we wax off gnarly hair, we buy expensive underwear to push our breasts up and suck our stomachs in. And maybe you're right. We're all emphasizing the wrong things.

Here we argue that beauty is also much more than outer appearances alone. As we'll explore through the middle and the end of the book, beauty is also about how you feel and how you define your life. These three interlocking elements—look, feel, be—work together to form what we believe is the ultimate goal in all of our lives: to feel good about yourself because you have strong self-esteem and a healthy, energetic existence that allows you to appreciate the subtle beauty of day-to-day life, and because you know your purpose in life—and to show off that purpose by helping others do the same.

YOU: Being Beautiful is really about the fact that we're all hardwired with automatic thoughts and perceptions about beauty. That means that many of these ideas have evolved over thousands of years to form a foundation for human behavior, emphasizing that it's especially hard to overcome some of the automatic drives.

To that end, beauty is very serious business—as in survival-of-the-species serious. When we think about survival of the species (living long enough to pass your genes on to the next generation), it's natural to emphasize the survival part of the equation. But when it comes down to a choice between surviving and breeding, breeding often wins. (Think of male grizzlies fighting to the death for a mate.) Considering the stakes, you'd better be sure that the object of your affection (that man with those magnificent abs) is worthy of the effort to attract him. But how can you know for sure? Thankfully, just like the metal detector–toting treasure hunter who leaves luck and serendipity to the amateurs, you come fully equipped with your own professional-grade beauty detectors.

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