02/12/2013 03:08 pm ET Updated Apr 14, 2013

What You Think Is What You Get: Seeing Our True Beauty

Have you ever had a Pilates session, yoga class or nice long walk, and gotten that awesome feeling of accom­plish­ment when you finished? Have you also noticed that, with that feeling of accom­plish­ment, you're more happy with what you see when you look in the mirror?

Lately this has absolutely been the case for me as I've been noticing more and more how my thoughts relate directly to what I see in the mirror.

Today I'm going to share two steps I use every day to keep myself feeling good on the inside, which leads to feeling and looking good on the outside.

Recently I had a day where I went from being unhappy with what I saw in the mirror to loving what I was seeing within hours. Obvi­ously I don't think that my body actually phys­i­cally changed in such a short time frame, but it sure felt like it.

I was having one of those mornings where nothing seems to be going right and I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before. I have a full length mirror in my kitchen and when I'm at the sink I can't help but see myself in the mirror.

I was getting coffee ready, my mind was already running with every­thing that needed to be done that morning. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and imme­di­ately thought to myself, "You are looking seri­ously busted." (This is actually the edited version of my thought.)

As soon as that thought entered my mind, I started feeling worse than ever.

This was pretty early in the morning. I had a full day ahead of me. I knew I had to turn this morning around. I had to get my mind right, or it was going to be one long, not fun day.

Luckily, these two steps came to the rescue almost auto­mat­i­cally since I've been
prac­tic­ing them regu­larly... It's a process that works really well on days like these.

Here are the two steps I took to turn my day around:

Step 1:

I changed what I was thinking.

When I had the thought, "You look seri­ously busted," I imme­di­ately felt worse and disliked what I saw in the mirror.

As I'm sure you've noticed, the voice we hear in our heads isn't always very kind or truthful. When we listen to the negative things that voice has to say, we'll see those thoughts reflected in the mirror. This is called projection.

But here are the really cool, empow­er­ing rules about that voice:

You don't have to listen to it.
You can choose another thought.

As soon as I recog­nized the insult I was giving myself, I acknowl­edged the thought and then imme­di­ately selected another thought. A kind one.

On this partic­u­lar morning, I went with "Hey, I am looking beau­ti­ful for someone who only got four hours of sleep last night."

And imme­di­ately I felt better and when I looked in the mirror I was able to see myself in a much better light. I actually looked better to me than I did a few moments ago.

Every day I hear people say negative things about them­selves. Often it's an off-the-cuff comment, or said in a joking way, like it's no big deal. We say to ourselves consciously that we don't really mean it.

But here's the thing -- when we make a state­ment about ourselves out loud we can pretty much guar­an­tee that the same exact thought, or similar, is running through our minds at a subcon­scious level on an ongoing basis through­out the day.

The average human brain thinks 70,000 thoughts a day. That's a heck of a lot of thoughts. The most frequent ones become like feedback loops. We get so familiar with them we aren't even aware how often they pop up in our minds anymore.

If your brain is running negative feedback loops all day long, imagine how that is going to affect not just how you feel, but what you see when you look at yourself.

On the flip-side, you can also create positive feedback loops once you begin to turn negative thoughts around and select kinder ones. When you do this consis­tently, you're going to feel much better and you're going to be much happier with what you see in the mirror.

Step 2:

I took action and got myself moving.

The second step I took that morning was to get myself moving. I hit my Pilates mat for 10 minutes where I breathed, moved my spine and worked my deep abdominals.

It's not often that I give myself the oppor­tu­nity to take a full 55 minute Pilates session, but every single day, as soon as I get up, I do a 5-20 minute Pilates/stretch session followed by a minimum five minute medi­ta­tion. This practice sets my body and my mind up for the day.

It's rare that I miss my morning practice. But the days I do miss tend to be the days I'm infil­trated by more negative thoughts.

When I have these days, I find that taking an extra five minutes to get on the mat, breathe, and move my body helps me ground and estab­lishes a foun­da­tion of presence that really stays with me for the rest of the day.

When you get yourself moving, even if it's only for five minutes, this is all the action you need to completely trans­form your aware­ness. Addi­tion­ally, taking action leaves you with a strong sense of accom­plish­ment in the moment and that feeling grows over time when you keep taking action day after day.

While you may think that feelings are unre­lated to how you see yourself, I have found that when you have a feeling of accom­plish­ment you are going to feel happier when you look in the mirror.

These two steps make up a major part of my personal process which I use to keep myself on track everyday and loving what I see in the mirror.

They may seem too simple to have an impact, but when prac­ticed consis­tently on a daily basis, these two small steps add up to a big positive change phys­i­cally and mentally.

For more by Sydney Craig, click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.