What’s Your Most Attractive Quality? It’s Deeper Than You Think

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Given the nature of my posts, I absorb myself in reading and writing about beauty.  While I’ve presented many theories on what makes something or someone beautiful, I don’t often share what I consider beautiful or what attracts me to someone or something.  I guess I feel you really can’t pin the answer down to one thing.

But just the other day I heard a definition of beauty that I never had before.  And I found it to be the best one yet.  What’s even better is I heard it in the most unlikely of places: during a manager training course!

Allow me to explain.  As my colleagues and I were getting valuable coaching tips, the trainer explained that we can better coach our teams if we let them come to their solutions on their own.  To do this, we need to guide our conversations using open questions, like “how do you imagine doing XYZ “or “what possibilities come to mind?”  By being curious we not only let them know we care about them, but we allow them to be creative and find a solution.  As the trainer summed it up: “Curiosity is our species’s most attractive trait.”

Bam! It hit me like a ton of bricks.

Sure we are visual creatures and we are attracted to the obvious signs of health (e.g., physical symmetry) and reproductive capabilities (e.g., large breasts).  But the invisible trait that draws us like a magnet, holds our attention and then captures our heart isn’t our pheromones, but our curiosity in others.

Our curiosity lets others know we are interested them and more importantly that we are concerned with them.  It gives them a sense of safety and security.  Who wouldn’t be attracted to that?!

According to a BBC Story, Why Are We So Curious?curiosity is one of the few childlike traits that we have held on to as a species.  While other species grow out of their childhood traits, e.g. lack of body hair, we actually retain some of ours.  In addition to being far less hairy than other species, we still hold on to our capacity to be curious.  Evolution made us the ultimate learning machines.   Our curiosity gives us the capacity to learn and progress, but ALSO attach to one another.

What’s even better about curiosity? It inevitably makes us happier people.  As a blog I happened upon, Experiencelife.com, states:

“In his book Stumbling on Happiness (Knopf, 2006), Harvard University psychology professor Daniel Gilbert, PhD, shows that, while we think we know what will make us happy in the future, we are actually less likely to find joy as a result of a planned pursuit than by simply stumbling upon it.  It follows that by cultivating curiosity and remaining open to new experiences, we increase our likelihood of encountering those surprising and satisfying activities.”  And in the end, happy people inevitably attract us more, right?

While I’m all for looking our best, don’t forget what will make us the most beautiful: our sense of curiosity.  And for all of you celebrating Valentine’s Day, remember be curious in your loved one. 🙂

Beautiful Protests: Don’t Dismiss Beauty Queens. The Chinese Govt is Downright Scared of Them & for Very Good Reason!

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There’s a lot of different ways to protest.  Unfortunately, we’ve seen some of the worst of them over the past few weeks.  But, for the most part, challenging the status quo, the social wrongs we see, or just plain ol’ anachronistic thinking is an incredibly valuable and innate human behavior.  And, tonight being the first night of Hannukah — a commemoration of the Maccabees’s protest against the repressive Greek regime of their day — it’s only fitting to celebrate it!

The more tyrannical or oppressive the object of our protest, the more crafty, clever and creative we must be in our rebellious acts.  We can’t always march in the street or publish our thinking.  We need to use what we have at our disposal.  And that is exactly what a few feisty beauty queens did as they protested against the Chinese government.  Over the course of the last few days, I saw news story after new story highlighting not just one, but two, beauty pageants that have enraged the Chinese government.

At the Miss Earth beauty pageant, the contestant from Taiwan, Ting Wen-yin, refused to change her sash from “Miss Taiwan ROC” to “Miss Chinese Taipei.”  Her explanation: “I was born in Taiwan, my sash now says Taiwan, I represent Taiwan, and I’m going to use the name of Taiwan in appearing at this pageant.”  She also shared in social media the horrible treatment that all the contestants were subjected to like not being served some meals and forced to attend night clubs to flirt with men.  The result? She was reprimanded, banned from certain activities, and not allowed to be in pictures.  Eventually she was kicked out all together. (For more of the story, read here)

Around the same time, another story hit the news stream about Anastasia Lin, a Chinese-born woman who was crowned Miss Canada.  She has been using the pageant’s platform and the subsequent press coverage to speak against the Chinese government.  She has also created films and written essays to share the corruption and repressive acts of her former government.  And the Chinese leadership was pissed.  Majorly.  They tried to ban her from the Miss Universe pageant.  This, of course, backfired creating an even bigger uproar and heightening her efforts that much more.

Needless to say, the Chinese government is super skittish now when it comes to beauty pageants.

What these stories show us is that the “popular” cultural activities, like beauty pageants (and the people who participate in them) which we may snicker at, can play a powerful role in society.  While I have a hard time endorsing the parading of women around in bathing suits, I also have the seen the power of these “institutions.”  Since the beginning of time and into today, pageants have served as spaces where women could achieve something — whether a way out of poverty or a podium to protest.    I applaud Lin and Wen-yin who not only risked their success to tell their stories, but who realized how to best use the gifts they had and the circumstances they found themselves in, i.e., beauty contests, to do it.  Would they have been listened to if they didn’t use this platform?  Maybe…but, then again, maybe not.

It’s easy for us to look down at people who want to show off and get rewarded for their physical beauty.  But many of us aren’t in the same social, economic and political situations as these people.  Moreover, when beauty contestants use their beauty, and the pageants that showcase their beauty, in ways that most of us wouldn’t have the guts to, how can we NOT admire them?

Lesson here? First, let’s never ever assume that beauty queens are dumb.  Second, we shouldn’t assume that the popular, seemingly frivolous events, like beauty contests, don’t have a potential role for social betterment.  Finally, let’s appreciate the fact that we live in a society where we CAN protest a multitude of ways without fear of reprisal.