So much of beauty is about how you feel and define your life. These three interlocking elements—look, feel, be—work together to form one great goal in our lives:To feel good about yourself because you have strong self-esteem and a healthy, energetic existence that allows you to appreciate the subtle beauty of day-to-day life.Self-esteem is a great marker of how good you feel about your ability to get things done and positively influence others. By boosting your self-esteem, you’re able to be more effective, and more beautiful in the broadest sense of the word.“Be happy with yourself” may seem to be a simple instruction to follow, but most of us wrestle with it. Why? Because we often find ourselves at odds, balancing between two opposing forces. On one hand, we have a strong, hardwired drive for uniqueness and individuality.At the same time, we have this biological need and craving for social conformity and a sense of belonging. It can get frustrating to follow: Be different, but the same. Stand out from the crowd, but fit in!Why does this even matter? Because being beautiful and finding happiness with ourselves has enormous health implications: Struggling with your own self-worth and life purpose can increase your chance of developing both physical and mental aliments. This influences your overall happiness and, not to mention, longevity.QUIZ: How Happy Are You?One reason why finding this balance is so tricky is that there’s often a huge gap between reality and perception—how you really exist and how others perceive you. It’s important to reconcile the two. Loving yourself and your imperfections contributes to your overall life satisfaction.Sources of Low Self-EsteemWhen it comes to mental issues, the consensus is that they’re caused by a mixture of genetics, genetic temperament and childhood experiences. This is the important point: You need the genetic predisposition and the environment.Someone with naturally low self-esteem can develop personality problems when exposed to the wrong environment. To improve self-esteem, you can try controlling aspects of your environment, or begin perceiving them differently.While complete lack of self-esteem is one life-altering symptom associated with depression, most of us do have self-esteem (some, very high!). But maybe you get down on yourself when others are critical of you (role models, or even the ones we love the most).And because our feelings about ourselves come from much of our perceptions, maybe these people aren’t judging us as harshly as we feel. Low self-esteem can come from the high expectations we place on ourselves.STUDY: Others Rarely Notice Our FlawsAppearance affects our self-esteem, both ways. Does being satisfied with your appearance lead to higher self-esteem, or does having higher self-esteem make you look and feel more beautiful? We can certainly get down on ourselves when it comes to what we think of our outer beauty.If your head is starting to swarm with questions, that’s OK. Reflecting on how you perceive yourself is one step toward improving your self-esteem. If you try to improve your appearance, how far should you go? Some people go to great lengths to perfect their look, and still have low self-esteem. In this case, there are most likely multiple factors contributing to this feeling.