We’ve been sold a sham idea of what’s attractive. As a woman, I’ve been led to believe that being attractive means having my hair done and face on. For men, it’s chiseled muscles and a full head of hair.
We’re supposed to be mysterious and alluring. Stand-offish enough for people to want more but not closed off. I’m not a fan. I’m not buying into it anymore and you shouldn’t either.
There’s a better way to be attractive. The best part is that it doesn’t have a damn thing to do with symmetry, weight, height, or what kind of car you drive.
It’s being joyful. I don’t mean simply being a happy person. Happy is hard for some people. Depression is a real damn thing and it’s excruciating. It doesn’t mean that people who suffer from depression are condemned to a life of unattractiveness.
Joyful is different. It’s fun. It’s frivolous. It’s a game-changer. And by joyful, I mean unapologetically finding joy wherever you can. Go deep.
When my boyfriend and I started dating. I told him how I was laying by the pool reading when I saw a baby ladybug. I wanted to get a closer look so I tried to scoop it up with my book page. At that moment I became a great foreboding giant and I ended up killing it. I was devastated and felt like a monster. I mean, who kills a baby ladybug?
A few days later, we were helping his friend move. Chris saw a ladybug land on a piece of furniture. “Hey! Look! Maybe you can redeem yourself and move this little guy over to a bush!” He was laughing and smiling at me.
I basically jumped for joy and ran over to the ladybug, gently trying to coerce it into my hand. I giggled the same time, talking to the ladybug as I gently placed it in a nearby bush. I was rewarded with more laughing and smiling from my boyfriend.
Chris has a huge laugh and an even bigger smile when he does it. It’s a loud laugh. The kind where you grab your stomach and throw your head back. His eyes get small and his nose wrinkles. He is never more attractive to me than when he’s laughing. He’s beautiful when he’s laughing.
It brings me joy to see him like that. Something amazing happens when two people feel joy. It’s an unmistakable connection. Being joyful is someone else's presence endears you to them.
I’m convinced that smiling is just as contagious as yawning. You see someone do it and you do it too. It’s almost involuntary. Smiling makes us feels good. Basic deductive reasoning holds that people who make us smile, make us feel good. This makes us want to be around them more.
Being joyful is being free. It’s letting down your guard long enough to be authentically in the moment. It’s finding a childlike wonder in the world and drinking it in. It’s living completely. There is more beauty there than any makeup or workout could create.
Think about how we react to seeing kids enjoying life on a level we forgot even existed. I remember when my daughter was about eight, we were in Omaha. She was excited about anything that was new to her. That summer, it was bugs. Apparently, bugs are a big deal to us.
She was fascinated with all the bugs she had never seen before because we didn’t have them in Arizona. I can’t even tell you how many times we stopped as we wandered around town because Caroline saw a bug.
It was inconvenient. It screwed up our time table here and there. But, there was no way I could be upset about it. It’s because she was so joyful about it.
That joy took me over. It was magnetic. It created a gorgeous emotional attraction. I didn’t want it to end.
Every time I heard her exclaim, “Wow! Look at THIS one!” I would rush over to her with my phone, ready to document it. I was just as excited as she was because getting to be in the space with that joyful of a soul was delightful. I started searching for bugs myself. I couldn’t help it.
Today, my friend Whitney sent me a picture of her living room. It was covered in sheets, draped everywhere. Apparently, she wanted a blanket fort and asked her boyfriend to build her one.
“This is how much Brandon loves me,” the text that followed the picture read.
Of course he loves her that much! How could he not? Blanket forts are silly and certainly not something most 30-somethings ask of their significant others. But doing something like crawling inside a self-made furniture cave is joyful. It costs nothing. It burdens no one. It's authentic. As her friend, I love her even more for doing it. And I love him for making it for her.
Joyful breeds patience. It’s hard to be upset with joyful people. It’s disarming. It creates kindness.
A few weeks ago, Chris came over to hang some lights in my bathroom. I hadn’t seen him all week. I may or may not (I did) follow him into the bathroom yammering on about a whole bunch of nonsense while he worked.
Later that afternoon, about two beers later in “courage time”, he told me it took longer than he planned to hang the lights because I kept talking while he was trying to do math in his head. Looking back, I missed the cue when he asked if there was anything I needed to go do. Whoops.
I asked him why he didn’t just say something and tell me to zip it.
“Well, you were just having so much fun, I didn’t want to stop you.”
This is the attractiveness of joy. I was just so damn joyful getting to be with him. It was simple joy but so very present. He knew it. When we see other people’s joy, we want to increase it, not decrease it.
What kept him from being (more) annoyed with me was the joy I felt. If I had been complaining about work while he was trying to figure out where to hang the lights, he probably would have asked me to leave. I know he would have asked me to leave.
Joyfulness is a gift. We give it to ourselves. We spread it to others. We feel it deeply. We need to let ourselves be liberated by it. It doesn’t just make us attractive to others, but it makes us attractive to more joy. Who doesn’t want that?