I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the Mona Lisa probably had some bad hair days. In fact, most likely she had plenty of challenges and struggles in her life. Just like the rest of us. Leonardo da Vinci must have caught her on a good day. Although, looking at his masterpiece, it's hard to tell if she's smiling or not.
I like to stow away old paintings and studies of mine. The failed ones that didn't measure up. I stuff them in a cardboard box and tuck it away in the garage. Periodically, I unearth the box and sort through the salvageable pieces. From there, I mix up some paint and see if I can revive a piece or two.
Recently, I found an old one that had been banished for awhile. It was of a couple of colorful trees by the water's edge. I'm not sure where or what inspired the piece but for whatever reason, the end result didn't enthrall me. The big white cloud in the background was clunky. And the sky was too dark.
So, I set the little study on my easel, mixed some paint and dove in. I evaluated the piece and knew what areas needed work. Where some of the flaws were. What changes were necessary.
Fixing a painting is not unlike fixing yourself. If you study the subject long enough, the flaws begin to emerge. Just as I use a mirror to expose the problems in a painting, the mirror usually reflects my own shortcomings. At least the exterior problems. Like too much weight. Bags under my eyes. Poor posture.
As I work on a painting, I begin to tap into my emotional state. Sometimes it's intentional, other times it happens unwittingly. I often listen to music to help create the right mood.
So it is with one's emotional health. If you take the time to slow down, find the right music and breath, you just might uncover a canvas ripe for new colors. A painting on the cusp of becoming a masterpiece, if only you put the appropriate time into it. Like any piece of art, you need to work at it. You need to tease out the worthwhile elements and subordinate the unnecessary parts.
Crafting the masterpiece that is you begins with honesty. Just like you have to look in the mirror to see the painting's flaws, you have to do the same with yourself. Outside and inside. Some improvements will be obvious. Things like eating less, exercising more and getting enough sleep.
Other improvements will take experimentation. Trial and error. It can be frustrating and hard work, but keep polishing. If you need help, seek it. A workshop here, professional help there. Whatever is necessary to craft that masterpiece.
Of course, there's always more we can do. Perfection is a journey, not a destination. I'll bet old Leonardo da Vinci walked away from his Mona Lisa with some reservations. Most honest artists are never completely happy. But you should still celebrate each breakthrough and improvement along the way. Becoming the masterpiece that is you is never over. It's an on-going process of growth and self discovery.
Don't get discouraged. Walk away when you're overwhelmed and start anew again the next day. You are your own unique masterpiece, as distinctive and singular as your signature. And the world never tires of artfully created originals.