Many find that improving their appearance boosts their mood. If negative feelings return there may be more to them than how good you look. Research has identified contributing factors and treatments that can really help.
Larry Rondeau, Managing Editor, was mentored by renowned social psychologist, researcher and author Dr. Robert Cialdini. He has spent 30 years studying psychology and its application to feelings, relationships and communication. Peter Pociluyko, Lecturer at SUNY Empire State College wrote, “Mr. Rondeau demonstrated deep understanding and comprehension of the concepts of social psychology.”
Many people say that looking older sometimes makes them feel down, even depressed. Joanne,* a patient of Bellevue, Washington facial plastic surgeon Dr. David Santos said, “I kept looking at myself in the mirror and I looked horrible.” Joanne had a facelift and dermabrasion and now says, “I feel awesome.”
Many report that medical treatment to rejuvenate their face and neck increased their happiness and confidence. But not everyone feels that way. Some find that while others tell them they look great, they don’t really feel any different. They’re still down, even depressed. The cause may that have little to do with their appearance.
A major cause of negative feelings
Years of research into depression has uncovered a crucial fact: How we feel is often caused, not by external factors, but by how we think. Negative thoughts bring about negative feelings. Thus, a person whose facelift has really improved their neck and jawline may start to think, “Now my wrinkled eyelids really stand out. I still look like an old hag.”
It’s easy to see why such thoughts would cause a person to feel down even when they should feel elated. Cognitive Behavior Therapy seeks to identify and correct self-defeating behavior and thinking patterns. Could changing the way you think really lead to fewer negative feelings and greater happiness? Consider what the National Institute of Mental Health says about Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT):
Many studies have shown that CBT is a particularly effective treatment for depression, especially minor or moderate depression. Some people with depression may be successfully treated with CBT only…CBT helps people with depression restructure negative thought patterns. Doing so helps people interpret their environment and interactions with others in a positive and realistic way.
Learning a healthy habit
Our thinking habits often reveal themselves in how we interpret things. Someone might react to their facelift or neck lift, not by rejoicing over the improvements, but by fretting over their remaining flaws. They may be engaging in what psychologists call “All or Nothing Thinking.” The basic idea is that unless they’re totally beautiful, they’re ugly.
But is that really true? Supermodel and “Brazilian beauty” Gisele Bundchen’s nose, for instance, is longer than many consider optimal. She takes that facial flaw in stride:
I love that feeling of, you know, we are women, we are so different, our imperfections are what make us unique and beautiful.
Bundchen here displays a healthy thinking habit: Finding the positive side of a negative situation. It can be empowering to look at a problem and ask yourself, “What’s great about this?” It may surprise you to learn that unfavorable situations have their advantages. As Dale Carnegie once put it,
Two men looked out from prison bars; One saw the mud, the other saw stars.
Mud and stars were both in the scene. One could choose to look at either. But opting to look at the positive side makes a big difference in how you feel.
Thus, rather than brooding about her long nose, Gisele Bundchen interprets her imperfections as a feature of her unique beauty. Choosing to concentrate on how much surgery has improved your face and neck can be much more empowering than focusing on areas that still need improvement. There may be steps you can take to enhance them in the future.
Even with a perfectly beautiful appearance, improving thinking habits and learning to interpret situations constructively can have a substantial and lasting impact on happiness. Research has uncovered effective tools to improve thinking patterns and increase our enjoyment of life. Future articles will discuss these in more detail.
*Not her real name
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