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A recent study revealed that women today are less happy than women of the same ages 25 years ago. Why do you think that is so? One of my clients told me that while we’re aware of all the possibilities waiting for us, we’re also aware of everything lacking in our lives. Another suggested that the stress we face in trying to get it all and balance it all has been magnified by a terrible economy. So while the stresses are piling on and the economy is straining our wallets, the pressure is also getting more intense for us to maintain an artificial standard of beauty. It’s as if women are being squeezed out of the lives we fought so hard to win the right to have.

For many, the first sign that we’re losing that battle for our best life is a nagging dissatisfaction with our appearance. We know there is a standard, and we fear we can’t meet it. This fear often comes to a crisis point when we approach our 40s.

When a woman is in her 20s and 30s, she’s in her “getting years.” She’s focused on getting a job, a husband, a house, and children. Those goals take all of her mind, soul, and body to achieve. For many of us, after all these years of intense goal-oriented living, we wake up one morning and realize there’s nothing left on our “to get” list. We’re married (or we’ve been married), we have children and a comfortable home, and we’re established in our career. Suddenly we realize, with a sense of nagging dread, that although we may want everything we have, we don’t have everything we want! We achieved many of the goals we set in our 20s, but now we suspect our list wasn’t bold enough. It’s time to rediscover who we are and who we could be.

Our beauty shines when we allow ourselves to revel in our inner qualities and share them with the world. It’s in these moments that we are all beautiful. When we share from our hearts and help someone else learn from our experiences, or ask for support for ourselves, we cultivate our true beauty. It’s when we aren’t afraid to ask for the support we need, and when we open our hearts to each other, that true transformation occurs. That is when we open ourselves to what the pursuit of true beauty can help us achieve.

Excerpt: The Beauty Blueprint by Michelle Phillips

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