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The secret of sex appeal

A pretty young sophomore arrived home breathless to announce that she had received the first of a new type of comprehensive report card at high school.

“It’s got all kinds of statistics and stuff on it,” she informed her mother as she handed it over for inspection. “Look at this,” she exclaimed, pointing to one particular item. “They gave me an ‘F’ in sex and I didn’t even know I was taking it.”

The word “sex” may have more explosive connotations and baffling confusion attached to it than any other word in the English language. And the idea of “sex appeal” is just the same. It’s got power all right. That may be why you’re reading this article. We all want to have sex appeal. We might not agree on exactly what the term means, but if someone accused us of having it, we wouldn’t argue with them.

If you have sex appeal, it means there’s something about you that makes persons of the opposite sex hunger to be as close to you as possible. They want to have their arm interlocked with yours, feel your skin by touching your hand, and, obviously, in time, they want to kiss you and do all the physical things we are all perfectly aware of. There is something so attractive about you that they want to bond with you, literally become one with you.

But this is where we have to think very carefully. Clearly, we like the idea of persons of the opposite sex finding us so appealing that they want to become one with us. What a compliment! But what part of you do they want to become one with-just your body, or your body, mind, and soul? We get nervous and defensive when someone finds just our body appealing-and they don’t know the first thing about our mind and soul.

And we should! In the larger scheme of things, our bodies are but a small part of the totality of us. Our minds are thousands of times more complex and unique, and what we call our souls are the deepest parts of us, the parts that are so central to our being that their value to us is beyond words, beyond measurement. Most of us are just beginning to understand our souls a little bit. We have flashes of awareness of how unique our souls are, how they contain all the really precious parts about us, and we literally shudder at the idea of playing fast and loose with this unbelievably masterful part of our identity. We’re the only person in the history of the world with the soul we have, and if we gained the whole world, but lost our soul, we would have lost everything.

So, when we talk about sex appeal, we’re talking about being someone whose whole package appeals to the kind of person who will relate to the entirety of us. While the place to start may be with our physical appearance, it’s only about 10% of the total process. There’s not a thing in the world wrong with watching your weight, toning your body, choosing the right haircut, wearing stylish clothes, and following every last rule of physical hygiene. You will make yourself far more appealing physically, and you will already be 10% of the way to a sex appeal that will draw the kind of person you are dreaming of.

And then the fun begins! The next 30% of sex appeal is about getting your mind in shape. The health of your mind has little to do with your intelligence rating. You may have an I.Q. of 90 or a 100 or a 130. At any intelligence level, the critical question is how healthy is your mind? Just as the health of your body is a consequence of what you feed it, how often you exercise it, the amount of rest you grant it, and how you protect it against disease, the same is true of your mind. If you want to have a really healthy mind, feed it good stuff-stimulating reading material, uplifting and inspirational music, challenging conversation about major topics, and time to reflect. And exercise it. Take on some fascinating new reading material about subjects that at first glance seem too much for you. Join some new groups that tax you to your edges. Keep trying new things. As your mind grows bigger and stronger, your sex appeal will literally multiply.

And then we get to the real secret of sex appeal! You may think I’m exaggerating, but 60% of lasting sex appeal is all about your soul. There are just three things I hope you will do to get your soul healthy. First, get to know it. Go down inside yourself, clear to the center of you, and become a close friend of your soul. This usually requires time alone, time for reflection, meditation, and prayer. Second, get yourself powerfully loved at the deepest of levels-loved in a durable way, loved unconditionally. For me, this is all about my faith. And finally, go about the task of becoming unswervingly authentic. Let your soul be at the center of your life, rather than trapped in a dark basement of your being.

I’ll bet you’re wondering how I turned this article about sex appeal into a discussion of body, mind, and soul. I’ve literally watched thousands of people fall for the old idea that sex appeal is all about your body. I’ve watched them get physically attractive-and neglect their minds and souls. I’ve watched them snag a lot of fish from the sea, and I’ve watched these relationships deteriorate as soon as they got beyond the first 10% layer.

But I’ve watched some other wise people build their sex appeal around the beauty of their bodies, the magnificence of their minds, and the delicacy and vibrancy of their souls-and I’ve noticed that their relationships flourish increasingly over time.

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