“Countenance” is defined as a “a person’s face or facial expression”.
Not everyone is born with great looks, but everyone can control their ‘countenance’ more than they realize.
What does that mean?
Try people watching. Watch the expressions of people walking down the street, at the restaurant, waiting for the train.
Make a subtle observation of people at the party. You can instantly tell who is confident, shy, awkward, warm and friendly, cold and distant, uninterested, too eager etc.
Even if you hadn't been observing before, your subconsciousness takes in the 'countenance' of the person you are interacting with. Sometimes, you feel warm and welcomed. Other times, you feel an invisible barrier. Their tight smiles, icy stares or insecurity are subconscious visual cues.
If you remember those feelings...what about the signals you are giving to others? In other words, what are you wearing on your face?
Most people aren't aware that their thoughts, feelings, moods, emotions show up on their face. It is their facial expression during 'limbo' mode. All these make up your 'countenance'
While we cannot control other people’s countenance, we can influence our countenance.
We can desire to have a beautiful face, not by external factors but have a elegant countenance that comes from within. We've all had those moments when an extremely elegant lady walks into the room. She has a sort of queenly honour and commands respect around her, yet she is extremely gracious. You don't know "who she is yet" but in your mind, you'll think she's probably someone very important. You almost gawk and admire her from a distance.
Then, there are some who are very pretty, yet give off a sour vibe. The vibe is confirmed when she opens her mouth, or when you witness her actions. Then suddenly, she is not beautiful at all.
That is probably why some pretty faces look elegant and some don’t. Other 'plain' faces can look elegant, smarter, classier, wealthier than the pretty ones. Is it the language that they speak? the make up? the clothes? the education? Surely all play a part, but it is the countenance that they have that gives us those visual clues.
Inès de la Fressange says, "You can go out and hate everybody, hate your age, and hate all the things you don't have but it will show; you have the face you deserve."
I’ve also said before that whatever’s in your heart turns up on your face. Apart from our regular beauty treatments, care and attention to our skin/face, we also have to look after our heart.
In Proverbs 4:23 in the Bible, it says, "Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life."
What does it mean to guard our heart?
There are many things you can do to 'guard your heart'. Honestly, in my opinion, this is the very FIRST step to elegance. Henry Fielding must have had a moment of revelation when he wrote, "A truly elegant taste is generally accompanied with excellency of heart."
There is no one exact formula for guarding our heart.
Personally for me, this means to exercise restraint, edit and feed yourself good high quality thoughts and things. I find praying, meditating and reading good books daily to be really helpful. As well as listening to a good message or sermon CD that encourages me and uplifts me.
Going to church weekly keeps my thought life in check, and being involved in a charity or ministry that enables you to serve others. That keeps the focus away from yourself. Wallowing in your own problems and thinking too much about yourself can be a sick way to live.
I edit my life constantly. I try my very best from thinking negatively or complain. I refrain from watching, owning, reading any bad material or low quality things. I also refrain from having too much of anything. But honestly these things are much easier when you have a spiritual life.