Over the years, I’ve had my share of really cute moments and very ugly ones. It was so bad a couple of years back, I had two Facebook messages from concerned sistagirls telling me that my brows required a much needed arching. I was so depressed, financially bankrupt, and physically ill at the time that I responded harshly because of receiving their suggestions as an insult. But it was constructive and delivered to me out of concern. Not only had I not kept it cute literally, but I had gotten a tad ugly with how I was treating people who genuinely cared for me.

Fortunately, with a good eyebrow wax and lip gloss or a well-received apology, we can all get cute. If you need to refine your cuteness, checking out these seven areas may help:

1. Keep your space cute. Clutter is the one thing that has been a proverbial monster under my bed. If your bedroom, office or any place where you spend a lot of time is not in order, it’s time to make some changes. Engage a rule of thumb that “If I haven’t seen or used this in X amount of time, it’s trash.” Throw out things you don’t use. Get storage bins. Do a clothing swap (do more giving than taking here). Hire a relative or trusted friend to help you clean. Do whatever it takes to try to bring cleanliness and order into your immediate surroundings.

If clutter isn’t your problem and you’re just not gifted with making your space reflective of your personality, hit up Target. No, don’t do that. Target is from the budget-devil. Try Ross, thrift stores, yard sales or even DYI projects and start to hang up artwork and accents that really make your space become more homelike for you.

2. Keep your relationships cute. By relationships, I mean those with friends, coworkers, family and significant others. I understand that you’ve learned to be a certain way to protect yourself, or simply because it works for you, but if that way is cringe-worthy, or conversely, if you’re getting walked on, it might be time for an adjustment. 

Communication is often the issue when relationships are going wrong so shifting your stance to be one that is more assertive than either aggressive or passive may go a long way. Assuring people that you hear them and are considering their feelings will help in some tense situations. Other times, you just have to allow time and space to fix a a matter. Never get caught in the streets busting out windows or acting like you have no good sense. Think and behave in a dignified way because you are too cute for anything less. You can still get things done and reach a positive outcome when operating in cuteness.

3. Keep your thoughts about yourself cute. Negative self-talk, which often sounds a lot like the propaganda that has been fed to us over the years, can do more long-term damage to us than a real incident involving someone else. For instance, if you were called names as a young person, do you still question yourself now about the truthfulness of their words? Since how we think of ourselves has been learned over time, we have to do a reprogramming work and feed ourselves with messages that are contrary to what we may feel deep inside until we adopt these as truth. Instead of a sufferer, consider yourself a champion. Instead of romantically undesirable, consider yourself still in the market for someone who has good sense. It’s not a matter of lying to yourself. It’s a matter of telling yourself the truth–the truth from a healthy perspective.

Sidebar: If working on your appearance will help you to feel better, do so. Start by simply taking care of your hygiene and grooming. We all have had a dusty, stinky boy in school who grew up to be a polished and handsome man, all at the hands of grooming. For us, having our hair and makeup done (don’t be a victim of crazy eyebrows lest my friends chase you down), having clean clothes and shoes, and a clean body with a touch of fragrance generally helps us to feel better. Enroll a fashion forward friend for suggestions on playing with color, accessories and jewelry to feel better.

Truthfully, however, external is rarely the problem if you feel really bad about yourself, so as much work as you do on the outside you will have to spend a considerable amount of time making over your mind. Don’t be ashamed to get the help of a professional if you don’t feel you can do it alone.

4. Keep your health and wellness cute. Health depends on a balance of genetics and choices. Some things we can’t change, especially with illnesses that have a genetic predisposition. Even happiness has a genetic component. On the other hand, we can make choices that can contribute to our wellness. While nutrition and exercise are considerations, things like sleep and elements affecting our mood are to be reviewed. Especially in winter months are people prone to depression, so finding ways to take advantage of sunshine and warmth is helpful. Also, feeding our spiritual longing is something that must be done for our purpose and focus to be clear. By looking at each aspect of the things that make us feel good, we can be holistically and truly heart healthy.

5. Keep your finances cute. There is only one way to keep your finances cute and that starts with knowing what is going on with them. Being afraid to balance your checkbook or budget for fear of the things you’ll find out or because you don’t want to be accountable to limits is the worst thing for your ducats. By keeping close watch on where your money is going, and then becoming ruler over it, you can start to be a lot smarter about how to use this tool. Whether you’re a fan of Dave Ramsey, Patrice C. Washington or Glinda Bridgforth, you have to get your money right. Managing impulses, living below your means, and planning before you spend can save you a lot of headache and hopefully help you stop using spending to feel in control, to show off, or to medicate.

It always feels really good if making appropriate sacrifices or better choices affords you the things you really want. Some budgets can do it all, but if yours truly doesn’t, keep it cute and learn tools that will help you get what you need, even if it takes some time. Of course, money and income is often tied to our job or business, so taking the time to optimize our success in those areas can mean better wages or prepare us for other financially beneficial opportunities.

6. Keep your kids cute. No reasonable person thinks an ill-behaved child is cute. Neither is one that is being mistreated in order to make you feel in control. Harsh discipline is never cute, but neither is lenience. Finding a balance in what works for your child and helps them to be happy, safe, and productive children is what you want. Enroll the help of those who have done it before–an older relative or respected mother in your community–and see what tips they have for you. Also, don’t have your kids out here looking unkempt while you’re polished and put together. The imbalance will do more harm than good and is a manifestation of your selfishness.

Most importantly make the safety of your children your priority, even if it requires sacrifice and difficulty on your part. That’s part of being a good parent.

7. Keep your social life cute. All work and no play makes Jackie a dull diva. Even a professional woman needs to kick up her heels and turn up every now and then. Self-sacrifice can go too far, and not allow you to fit some time in for you. Doing things that allow you to meet interesting people, see interesting things and have new experiences should be something that you pencil in your calendar. If doing something big isn’t possible, hanging out at the bookstore or striking up conversations with people you meet while you’re out and about can make life a bit more fun. It always helps if that person you meet is also cute!

Sisters, we have our ugly moments, but make a conscious effort to optimize our existence. It may take lots of work, support and the changing of our priorities, but living our best life counts on us keeping it 100% cute.

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