Is happiness a state of mind?

You know, one of these days I’m actually going to finish a post when I mean to. Recently I’ve got into the habit of starting posts and not finishing them… I’m not sure why, there’s nothing particularly wrong with them. I just don’t feel like posting them and they get put aside.

I started doing it again with this post; I started writing it on Boxing Day and only got back to it today. I needed a couple of days to clear my mind anyway, so it wasn’t a bad thing… it’s just annoying and feels too much like writer’s block to me. I have enough of that in my life already, thanks.

Anyway, I’ve found myself thinking about happiness a lot lately. What started it was when I had dinner with my parents on Christmas day. A funny thing happened. It was just the three of us as we’re never that fussed about having a big Christmas. A couple of hours before we were going to eat, my mother decided to use the good china and we spent about ten minutes trying to find the good glasses to go with them. I think they must have vanished into the Twilight Zone because we couldn’t find them, so we settled for some champagne glasses instead.

I don’t drink much, so it was just ginger ale and it probably would have been easier to have drunk it out of the bottle. But it seemed like a nice idea, so I went along with it. My mistake. I’m halfway through the meal – a nice salad; we can’t imagine a roast on a hot day – and start to take a sip. Except I can’t. The glass won’t go past my nose.

I’ve never thought of myself as having a particularly large nose, but I must have as I just couldn’t get the glass past it. Maybe my nose was broken when that sandbag hit me ten years ago; maybe I’ve been telling too many lies like Pinocchio. Either way, it wasn’t working and tipping my head back didn’t help. I had a decision to make; either admit defeat (ha!) and get a different glass, or work out some other way.

So very slowly I started to slide down in my chair. I was able to angle the glass more and eventually the drink started to tip out. Of course by this time my parents were in absolute hysterics and I’m busy studying them, trying to work out which was to blame for my humongous nose. Strangely they’re both quite normal. I guess the gene must have skipped a generation. πŸ˜•

Later on I thought about it and I realised that, in a strange way, it was a nice experience. I mean, yes, I was being stubborn, but I didn’t feel embarrassed or stupid; I was with family and it’s been a while since we’d laughed like that. Even now when I think about it, it still gives me a happy feeling and that’s something I’ll remember for a long time.

Happiness is a strange thing, isn’t it? It’s something that can feel so different; contentment and peace can give us one kind of happiness, intense joy another. The way we each experience happiness is different, as is what makes us happy. Something I find funny – a show like Seinfeld or Friends – might be annoying to someone else; likewise some of us might go through our lives without showing much emotion, but might still feel peaceful and content. Happiness is so hard to define, but plays such an important part in our lives.

What I’ve been wondering recently is, do I feel happy in my life? Am I a happy person? If I’m being honest then I’d have to say I’m not sure. Most of the time I’m probably not; I like to laugh (and make people laugh) and try not to take things too seriously, but I consider things carefully and that’s my natural response. At the same time I’m not unhappy or sad either. I actually think I’m at peace most of the time. Happiness or sadness is an emotional response for me; I’m neither all the time, I’m just going about my day.

I think a lot of people confuse being “positive” with being “happy”. Being positive is a way of looking at life; being happy is an emotional response which comes from your mindset. You can choose to be positive, but usually something happens that makes you happy. I’ve heard people say they’re positive and so they’re happy, but I’m not so sure. For a lot of people having a positive mindset is a great thing; it lets you look to the future and it’s helped sportspeople and people in everyday life. But I’ve met several people who I’ve thought are so positive that they’re miserable. They work so hard at creating their outlook that they bring everyone down, including themselves; their relations with their families and friends are strained and though they’re positive, they never seem particularly happy… they always want more.

I think having a positive outlook in life is more likely to make us happy, but doesn’t mean we will be happy. And I suppose that’s why I’ve been thinking about this. I’ve been reading some articles recently that indicate if you’re happier, you’ll be healthier too. One study found that “happy” subjects were one-third less likely to develop a cold, while another found that people who thought in happier and more positive ways were more likely to increase their longevity by an average of 10 years.

If that’s right then there’s a definite reason to want to be happier. And so maybe I should make more of an effort to be happier and not let things bother me… although again I don’t feel like I’m unhappy or particularly negative. I’m content with who I am and think I’m a fairly realistic person. Plus isn’t the whole idea of what makes us happy all relative? I’m writing a new poem at the moment and like a lot of my poetry, it’s quite melancholic… some people might find it depressing but even though it’s sad, it makes me happy because it’s something I want to write. I think the key to happiness is respecting yourself, and in that way I’m at peace.

I wonder what you think? Does being happy make us healthy? Is happiness a state of mind? I’d be interested to find out, and I wish you all peace and happiness in the new year. πŸ™‚

Are you a child of the 80s?

Are You a Child of the 80s?

I had a post planned for today but I haven’t been able to finish it yet, so I thought I’d post a quick quiz instead. This one caught my eye. I’m definitely a child of the 80s; I love the cheesy movies and the bad fashion, U2, INXS and the power ballads, and I’m just old enough to remember Full House when it started (unfortunately).

My result surprised me a bit, though; I knew I’d do well but I know more about the 80s than I actually remember. But I’ve got pictures of my mother with shoulder pads, watching Top Gun always makes me want to be a fighter pilot, I loved ET, we had one of the early VCRs in Aus, and Thriller was cool! Not to mention I know all the words to Sweet Child O’Mine, and there’s a little film called The Empire Strikes Back I like. πŸ˜‰

I think I’m out of my time. I’m trying to bring the mullet back, but it’s not working… what about you? Are you an 80s tragic or was your experience totally bogus? πŸ™‚

2000 Miles

Do you have a favourite seasonal song? If I had a favourite one it would be The Pretenders’ 2000 Miles; it’s such a beautiful, sad song… whenever I hear it it takes me somewhere far away. 2000 Miles and Joni Mitchell’s River are two songs I can listen to at any time of the year and still get shivers.

I found this video on YouTube and it’s a wonderful live performance… Chrissie Hynde has never sounded better. I could listen to her voice for hours.

I still can’t believe it’s almost Christmas. The years just go by more quickly. I don’t think I’ve felt the spirit as much this year, though. Maybe I’ve just been too busy, and I still haven’t finished all my shopping yet! But listening to a song like this brings it all back.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone, and my best wishes for a peaceful New Year.

Forever Young

I came across this photo on Stock.Xchang earlier and fell in love with it. I love how the tree spreads to fill the image and is framed against the ocean’s glare, how the ocean blends into the sky. The empty bench seems almost sad as well, like there’s no one there to appreciate the beauty… I’m a bit of an amateur photographer and it makes me feel jealous!

What it reminds me of more than anything is summer. It just feels bright and summery. I like the summer months. Well, I don’t enjoy the heat; sometimes it tops 40Β° C in Sydney and not many people enjoy that. But I like the feeling that comes with summer, the extra light and warmth wiping away the last cobwebs of winter. I love the fresh smell in the air; the lazy days running into one another; sitting under a tree, watching the people go by.

Whenever I think of summer it brings back my adolescence. Some of my fondest memories come from the summer months, on days just like the one in the photo. Playing cricket with my father in the school nets; watching the tennis on TV and playing on the weekends under the hot sun. Listening to Rob Thomas’s and Santana’s Smooth. Drinking a half-melted Calippo, biting into a juicy peach… walks along the beach, the sun gleaming off the ocean.

I cherish those memories but thinking about them also makes me feel sad in a way. I’m at the age where I’m accepting more responsibility and control in my life, but the trade-off is that those days are behind me. I’m happy with who I am but sometimes I miss that feeling. Not wanting to see the world through younger eyes, but to be more carefree and not let things get to me so much. In some ways I wish I could stay forever young.

I love Alphaville’s Forever Young. It was released the year I was born and it’s such a haunting song. There are a couple of lines I’ve always related to.

Some are like water, some are like the heat
Some are a melody and some are the beat
Sooner or later they all will be gone
Why don’t they stay young?

I’ve always thought the lyrics aren’t just about staying young and growing older but also about beauty…. I’ve noticed recently that I don’t look at the world in the same way as I did before. That’s not necessarily bad, but what I used to stop and notice around me now I don’t notice as often. My life has more priorities; I have less time to sit and watch the world go by. I find that sad… if I can’t find time to appreciate beauty, what’s the point of all the rest?

People say that you’re only as old as you feel inside and I know what they mean… I think for as long as I live my heart will remember how I felt during those golden summers and I’ll never lose it. But there is a danger in that as well. It’s simple to value the past so much that we become lost in it; that we’d want to spend more time with our memories and watching old TV series than experiencing the present. That’s something I never want to do; I value life and my journey too much for that. What I think staying forever young really means is holding onto the joys of our life as we move forward; if we can do that, then we are never old. And if our memory lives on, we never die.

The photo reminded me of that, the empty bench looking out at the ocean… and it reminded me again that I need to take more time to look at the world around me, its beauty. As a writer I’ve been looking at the world in terms of people, but that’s only a small part of life.

Strange how something as simple as a photo could touch me so much. But then beauty comes in all forms; it’s our job to recognise it. And I was lucky enough to this time.

Courage and courtesy

I’ve had a couple of strange experiences this week. Nothing that would make you wonder if it’s a full moon or something, but strange enough that they’ve stood out. They’re actually related and that’s part of what I find strange.

The first thing happened when I was finishing the last of my Christmas shopping a couple of days ago. I decided I’d get the bus back as it was late and I had a few things to carry. It was fairly busy and a mother and her baby sat in front of me. The baby seemed fascinated by my appearance. Maybe it’s the beard or maybe he thought I was particularly ugly but he just stared at me the whole time. Have you ever had a kid just stare at you? It’s freaky. I didn’t know where to look, so I looked out the window and every now and then glanced back. He didn’t move. I swear this kid could break someone in GuantΓ‘namo.

Anyway, after about ten minutes they started to get off, her balancing several bags and the kid in one arm and trying to pick up the stroller with her other hand. I got up and offered to carry the stroller down for her; she looked stunned that I’d offer. So I carried it down and she thanked me, but still seemed surprised that I’d want to help. I didn’t say anything but as I returned to my seat, I couldn’t help but wonder why she thought it strange that I’d help. Was it something about me that made her think I wasn’t the kind of person who’d notice she needed help? Or was she just surprised that anyone would help? I suppose I’ll never know, but no one else moved, not even the driver… I found that very strange. There were at least thirty other people on the bus and twenty near where she was sitting. Are we really so involved in our own worlds that we wouldn’t think to help a mother who obviously needed it? Or did they all think that someone else would do it? I don’t know which is worse.

The second thing happened a day later. I was out again and on my way to browse in a couple of bookshops to kill some time. A woman and I both reached the escalator at the same time; I had a little more room and probably could have gone first, but I stepped back and let her go. She looked at me with that same look on her face: half-bewilderment, half-smile, like I’d just done something very unexpected. Maybe I had but it’s actually something I do a lot, for men and women. It’s partly because I try to be polite but also because I don’t like getting bumped on the escalators; I’ve lost my balance several times when somebody’s brushed past me, so I find it easier just to let them go first.

It was only a small thing, but again it struck me as strange. Is it really so unusual that someone would do that? Are we so used to forming long queues and yelling at each other on the roads that when someone gives way, it feels unexpected?

Truthfully I wouldn’t have thought much of it, except that two similar things had happened in as many days and now it’s got inside my head. I don’t believe in coincidences and it’s made me wonder if courtesy is slowly dying. Well, not wonder; I know it is. There’s no doubt that people aren’t as polite to each other and when they are, it often feels fake. No doubt that people speak to each other more harshly and are always in a hurry; no doubt that we spend a lot of our time listening to music inside our heads, unaware of what’s going on around us… I just hadn’t realised that it had come so far as to seem strange when someone actually did a kind act. Shouldn’t it be the other way round?

What it’s made me think about as well is courage. I’ve said before that I think it’s much harder to do the right thing, to make a right decision, than it is to do the wrong thing or make a wrong decision. There are many different ways of approaching something; there might be many favourable outcomes, but I would say there are many more unfavourable ones because there are so many obstacles that can get in our way. Sometimes you need to back yourself and go ahead no matter what people say, or do something you know is right when everyone disagrees.

I’m not going to say that anything I did was courageous, but I think you need a bit of courage to perform a kind act. You need not to be afraid that you’ll make a fool out of yourself (always possible) and to believe that you can help. Sometimes you need to swallow your pride and do what has to be done. And sometimes you need to stand up for what you believe in even when it might seem better to stay quiet. How many disadvantaged people have been helped because someone took the time to listen? How many small acts of kindness have changed lives because someone had the courage to say “I want to help”? More than we’ll ever know.

Maybe I’m making a big deal out of two small experiences, but I find it very sad to think that common courtesy is becoming a thing of the past. This isn’t me lamenting the death of society or how inconsiderate people my age are; if anything I think the opposite. I just think that the way we deal with each other says so much for who we are, for who I am as a person. I can go round listening to my iPod quite comfortably and not notice anything outside of it; I bristle when someone says something harsh to me like anyone else, and I can just as easily say something harsh back. Sometimes that’s entirely appropriate. But the way I behave affects other people too; carrying a stroller or letting someone go first is such a small thing, but can make such a difference. Both those women were surprised but pleased; my doing one nice thing for them gave them a good feeling. It would have been easy for me to do neither, and it wouldn’t necessarily have been wrong, but I think the world would be a much colder and sadder place to live in without those small acts of kindness. So I help where I can.

With Christmas so near it’s simple to get caught up in the frenzy and forget about the impact we can have on other people, so I think it’s important that we make the effort to be polite and helpful if we can. It’s not easy with all the noise and music and people, but a kind word or gesture can make all the difference in someone’s day. So my resolution from now until Christmas (and beyond!) is to try and do something nice for someone each day. A stranger, a friend, whoever, I want to show that courtesy isn’t completely dead. Anyone want to join me? πŸ˜‰

Friendship

When do you think it’s too late to send someone a birthday card? Is there some unspoken rule that it’s okay to be a few days late, but longer and you’re in hot water? I ask because usually I’m quite good with birthdays but I’ve forgotten a couple this year… one I remembered but got the dates mixed up, so ended up missing it by a few days. And this week I realised I’d left another birthday too late – I need to send it overseas and it’s going to be at least a week late.

I’ve been feeling guilty, mainly because now I’m not sure whether to send a card or not. On the one hand, at least I remembered; on the other, it could feel like an afterthought. Personally I’m happy as long as someone remembers; I don’t mind if it’s a bit late, but a lot of people get angry and would rather you didn’t bother at all if you’ve forgotten… isn’t that a bit extreme? It’s not like you’ve forgotten their wake and so they decide to haunt you from beyond the grave.

I think I’ll probably send it; it’s to an old friend, and I can save on postage if I send a Christmas card too. I know, I’m cheap. πŸ˜‰ I’m just annoyed at myself because I don’t normally forget this kind of thing. Friendship is important to me. I’ve never been someone who’s had a lot of friends; I’m comfortable being by myself and I don’t need to be around people to define who I am. I have acquaintances and contacts, but my true friends I’ve known for a long time; we have the kind of relationship where we might not hear from each other for weeks or months but when we do we just pick up where we left off. I value that greatly.

What I’ve found interesting over the last 10 years or so is seeing how the way we think about friendship has evolved, particularly because of the ‘net. People my age are in an interesting position in that we’re the last generation to have grown up in a time without the Internet; I’m 23 but it wasn’t until I was just about to start high school that the ‘net became standard in schools here. Already it’s changed so much in 10 years; kids are growing up with the ‘net now, it’s a part of their lives in a way that it wasn’t for me until much later.

Part of the change online is because of MSN and social networks, how they’ve changed our lives. ICQ and MSN and Skype allow us to talk to people whenever we like for free, speak to people around the world; the ways we communicate and stay in touch have changed, and even the language we use has changed because of MSN. Likewise with networks like Facebook and MySpace allowing people to follow each other, the barrier between our online and real lives has become much smaller.

What we’re really talking about are acquaintances, though, not friends. But the difference between the two online seems to be narrowing and I’m not sure I like it. I’m a fan of Facebook but I hate these endless friends lists. I’ve seen people with over 2000 friends on their profile. That just seems crazy! I don’t use Facebook that way; I can understand several dozen friends, maybe 200 if you’re including your ex-classmates, but does anyone but Paris Hilton actually know that many people? People who do that seem to be using Facebook because it’s trendy rather than as a networking tool.

The same goes for MSN and Skype; I often hear from new people who I’ll chat with for a few weeks, and then we drift apart. I rarely expect it to become an online friendship; it’s just a way of meeting new people. But some people take it too seriously, and the opposite as well; it’s like any relationship, you need to be honest about what you’re expecting to get out of it or someone might get hurt. Often we seem to think that because the technology is so convenient and we can chat whenever we like, that our relationships online are disposable; they’re not “real”, so it doesn’t matter.

But is that really true, that a relationship online is less “real” than in our everyday lives? I don’t believe that. I understand why people can feel that way (I agree with some of it), but like anything I think it depends on the strength of the connection. I met two of my closest friends online. We may never meet in real life but that doesn’t change how I feel about them. We have things in common; reading, writing, experiences in life, ambitions. I have more in common with them than I do with most people I’ve met in my everyday life. And it makes sense, if you think about it. To meet people here I have to go to places where we might have similar interests, but online there are a thousand forums and message groups dedicated just to our interests. That we clicked out of all the people there is probably rare, but it doesn’t make that connection any less strong. And to me talking on Skype is no different that speaking on the phone; better as I can’t afford a video phone. πŸ˜‰

I suppose in the end what matters to me most in any relationship is honesty; knowing that somebody is interested in what I have to say and that we share a connection. I’ve found that with blogging too; we share an intellectual connection and I might not visit a blog for a few days (or the last week… I know, sorry, I’ve been busy!) but whenever I stop by, I always find the discussion interesting, the voice familiar… to me that’s as real as anything else.

Anyway, this has just been on my mind lately, first because of the card and also because of Christmas. What I like about Christmas is the atmosphere and spending time with family and friends, but I think a lot of the time we take our friends for granted. We fall into the same patterns and expect our relationships to mean the same thing as we get older, rather than letting them evolve and change; it’s natural that the relationship we shared as children would be different as adults, or when we have children ourselves. Sometimes we can outgrow a relationship and it’s better to let it go than to continue taking it for granted.

That’s what I’m trying not to do, to take my friendships for granted… so I think I’ll go send that card because otherwise that’s what I’m doing. I can’t help but think that a card doesn’t seem like much, though. What do you think, should I send some chocolates or flowers? Or maybe a copy of Poison’s I Won’t Forget You? That’ll work. πŸ˜›

Naughty or nice?

Little Naughty

Were You Naughty or Nice This Year?

As my last post was about getting into the festive spirit, I thought it might be fun to look at a few Christmas quizzes. There are a couple of interesting ones at Blogthings, particularly one on How Much Do You Know About Christmas? I didn’t agree with a couple of answers, though, which is why I didn’t post it (it’s not 9 reindeer, is it? Rudolph doesn’t count).

The one I liked more was this one on if you’ve been naughty or nice. Apparently I’ve been a little naughty this year. Hm, I hadn’t really thought about it, but I guess it’s not far off. I’ve got an image to maintain, you know. πŸ˜‰

I remember I used to make a big deal about it when I was younger. What about you? Did you ever try to bribe Santa? It never worked for me. πŸ™‚

Bah, Humbug!

There’s a certain time when it starts to feel like Christmas for me. Sometimes I can be walking around K-Mart and looking at decorations but it just feels silly; it’s like October and Christmas seems an age away. Plus where would I store them for three months? But around late November I start to get into it more. I can usually tell when; I’ll be out shopping and at some stage the Christmas music starts and I don’t feel like destroying the speakers!

I enjoy the Christmas season but I’m one of those people who gets quite stressed in the lead up. I like getting my shopping done early (1st week of December) but inevitably someone buys something I’ve already bought them, so back it goes. I hate the queues; it’s not the waiting I hate, but the people who don’t wait. They jump the queue like they think they’re better than the rest of us commoners. And back out on the streets, the crush is five people deep and it’s a game of dodgeball just to avoid the elbows and backpacks. Ah, the joys of city life…

What I like about Christmas is more the feeling than the day itself. I wouldn’t say everyone is happy and nice, but there’s definitely a different feeling when you’re out. Houses have their trees up and suncatchers in the windows, the shopping centres have their decorations and lights, children are excited, the music’s playing in the background… it’s just a nice feeling that doesn’t happen any other time of the year.

Recently I’ve had a bit of a think about what Christmas means to me. I’ve outgrown the child’s excitement that comes with the day, and I’m more spiritual than religious. So now it’s more about spending time with my family, and the message that comes with the season; peace, joy, hope, a worthy message no matter what you believe. The problem that often seems to come with it, though, is that it can be an anticlimax. Have you ever seen Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation? That’s one of my favourite holiday movies and I love that everything he tries to do for his family just goes wrong! The tree’s too big, the lighting won’t work, his bonus is cancelled, the tree burns down… it’s not so far off real life. It doesn’t take much for family feuds to resume or a meal to be a disaster and all the fuss just doesn’t seem worth it. What lingers for me is the Bam earthquake on Boxing Day 2003, and the tsunami the following year… when 200,000 people die so suddenly, everything else drops away.

But at the same time perhaps that makes the message more important. The idea that we can live in peace, that we can celebrate something that brings so many people joy, that family does matter to us, is a wonderful message. Much as I don’t like the shopping and commercialism, I love the joy it brings to children; I love seeing their eyes light up when they see Santa or open a present on Christmas morning, or when the carols are on TV and families sit together and sing along. That’s what I like about the season.

This year I’ve decided I’m going to do things a bit differently. I’m going to cut back on a lot of the things that stress me out and enjoy the festive feeling instead. I’m staying away from the crowds and cutting back on the amount I spend (never a lot anyway) and the food, and I’m going to listen to more of the music. I just bought Sarah McLachlan’s Wintersong and I’m looking forward to rewatching some of The Simpsons Christmas episodes. Something I do each year is to add up the amount I’ve spent and make a similar donation to charity. This year I’m going to do that through Global Giving. It’s a great site and connects users to over 450 independent charity projects around the world; the donations are spread out at a grassroots level, so they can really make a difference to an entire community (orphanages, schools, health programs). I ‘ve written about it before and I think it’s well worth supporting.

Other than that it’s going to be much the same as always. A salad on Christmas day, some time with family and friends, a mince pie here and there… I’m sure there’ll still be some of the stresses I hate so much, but hopefully it’ll be more balanced! What do you think? Do you get carried away or is it all a bit of a “bah, humbug!” moment? I’ve always said Ebenezer was misunderstood! πŸ˜‰

What makes you beautiful?

I hate having my photo taken. I’m one of those people who either comes up well in a photo or very badly; if I have warning then I’m okay, but if you spring it on me I end up looking like Quasimodo. It’s worse at Christmas; there’s always some party to go to or family coming round, and there’s always someone with a camera lurking around waiting to steal my soul.

A lot of people feel like that with photos, but I probably take it a step further… what’s interesting though is that most people seem to come up better when it’s a spontaneous photo than when they’re posed. Catching someone in a moment just makes them seem more natural and it’s closer to the memory we want to keep.

I’ve been printing some photos for a friend over the last few days and the same thing’s true again. There are over 160 photos and most of them have come out well, but the ones which are stunning were all taken when they didn’t know they were being photographed. There was one photo of a couple of my friends that just jumped out at me; it’d be impossible to make them ugly but it seemed to capture the smile in their eyes, and that’s how I’ve always known them. None of the other photos caught that.

You often hear people say that it’s what’s on the inside that makes someone beautiful. It’s said so often that it’s become a clichΓ©, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. When I think of beauty I don’t usually think of someone’s appearance… well, that’s not quite true. My first instinct is to look at that, if they’re presentable, attractive, but I’m more interested in their personality and who they are. I think someone can be very attractive but not beautiful. Someone who is a racist or have repugnant ideas could be the most fair person in the world but would still be undesirable and ugly in a much worse way.

That’s one reason I don’t like it when people say someone is sexy. Certainly someone can be sexy and it can be a compliment, but I’m not a fan of how it’s overused; sexy, sexed up, I find that’s more about lust and desire than anything empowering. Hearing that governments “sexed up” reports just sets my teeth on edge. I guess I’ve always thought of beauty as what we represent as a whole, while someone’s attractiveness (or sexiness) is more related to their appearance.

Those photos seemed to capture that beauty; more than just the appearance, it caught the light in their eyes, a smile, a laugh… it transcended the rest. Unfortunately it doesn’t work for me, but I think those kind of photos definitely seem to cast most people in a good light.

What all this makes me wonder, though, is how do we define beauty today? Has it changed, the definition evolved? I think the way beauty and sexy are used interchangeably now suggests that it has. One example would be Maxim’s recent list of the world’s 5 unsexiest women; Sarah Jessica Parker came first. I still don’t understand that. Maybe Jessica Alba is the current It Girl, but I don’t find SJP unattractive at all. I think there’s something to be said for having a little elegance and class; calling her horse faced is just cruel.

But that’s part of the culture we live in now. Appearances matter more than ever and our definition of beauty is skin deep. As long as we’re presentable and look a certain way, then someone will like us enough that we’ll feel good about ourselves…

I wonder what you think. How do you define beauty and looks? What makes you beautiful? I’d be interested to find out. πŸ˜‰