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Bryan Steffy/WireImage
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For Carmen Electra, getting older is no reason to panic.

“I feel good about it,” she tells me during her birthday party held this week at Crazy Horse III Gentlemen’s Club in Las Vegas.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I feel wiser. I feel like I know exactly what I want career-wise, personally, just more grounded, and in that, I feel sexier than ever.”

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The twice-wed bombshell, born Tara Patrick, certainly does look amazing now that she’s focusing on showbiz, with two movies completed and a concentration on music. She recently performed at Coachella, has a single available on iTunes called I Like It Loud, and tonight she dances when the DJ spins her forthcoming single Bigger [Expletive].

What's her secret?

“I take really good care of my skin,” she says. “I used to fall asleep with my makeup on, but I definitely don’t do that anymore. I constantly moisturize my skin, I get facials—I don’t get a lot of them, but I do take the time now to take better care.”

She has also eliminated soda.

“I used to drink at least 11-12 sodas a day, and I’ve just been drinking water. I feel so much better! I have so much more energy—I feel good.”

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Now she can see evidence in her eyes.

“Truly, when you’re happy inside, your eyes are alive," she says. "The test is to look in the mirror at yourself, and to look into your eyes. If you’re not happy, or if you’re sad, and when you fix things in your life, like I’ve been trying to do—working on myself, my career, being focused, being around people that make me feel happy and understand me as a person, and I can do the same, and give the same to them—I just feel like the lights are shining. That’s the biggest test and advice I would give to anybody. Look at yourself in the mirror, and if you don’t recognize the person that you’re looking at, you have to find your happiness.”       

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Hm, what makes her happy?

“Now that I have an opportunity to perform, I feel happier than ever to do what I love to do the most.”

Still, things didn’t look so bright in the recent past, and she made personal changes within the past year.

“I lost inspiration,” she admits. “I’ve been in this business for so long, and I lost inspiration for a moment. That’s OK. I was beating myself up about it because I thought, 'this is what I always wanted since I was a little girl, and why am I not feeling so excited about things right now?' I had to step back a little and figure things out.”

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It was no midlife crisis, though.

“I think that life in general has its ups and downs. It’s a roller coaster ride. Now I’m excited every day to wake up and just to live and be happy as much as I can.”      

One big help has been eliminating toxic people from her life, which she admits she has done recently. (She was linked to Simon Cowell and Ryan Lochte.)

“I decided that if I was going to be around friends and people that I know truly love me and have supported me, and have been long-term friends, and I had to clean house a little bit, and stand up for myself.”

She continues, “Some people who I thought were friends—weren’t. At the time it’s hard to make changes in your life, but once you do it, and you get over the hump, you understand why everything happens for a reason, and everything makes sense.”

With strength comes wisdom.

“Going through painful situations, sometimes, in the moment, you don’t get it, and it takes away excitement and drive from life, from living. You have to take responsibility and step up and make those changes. That’s what I’ve done, and I feel proud to say I’ve gotten through those rough times, and I feel good.”

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One thing that helped her through the dark days were self-help books.

The most significant? Start Where You Are: A Guide To Compassionate Living by Pema Chodron.

Hm, what did she take away?

“To be able to step back and see things more as a dream, and not to take things so personally,” she explains. “When you have a bad dream, you wake up and you feel like it really happened, but you realize it’s a dream, and it wasn’t real. You get over it, and sometimes you even forget. Look at this as it’s just a moment that’s going to pass. A lot of things aren’t as big as we make them out to be in our minds. Learning to look at this as ‘it’s just a dream, it’s going to pass, and it’s not that big of a deal.'”

She continues, “Most things that we worry about aren’t that big of a deal. Some things can be, but for the most part, it’s a waste of time and a waste of precious life. If you have your health, and things are good, there’s a lot of small, petty things that we worry about. That’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned: Stop worrying. It’s worthless.”

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She first leaned on self-help books after the cancer death of her mother Patricia in 1997.

“After my mother passed away, that was a rough time in my life, and that’s how I learned –through that experience, I learned how to get past it – and not to carry guilt and all the feelings that come with that. That’s when I started to get into my self-help books. I knew how to get through hard times, and I think it’s just life. Not everything always stays perfect. You have to go down a little to come back up.”

She recalls her memories of her mom.

“My mom was my best friend and biggest supporter," Carmen says. "When I was younger, she took me to dance classes. She worked two jobs to help me go to the School For The Creative and Performing Arts, and to do all this. There was a huge part that she didn’t get to see—I didn’t get to share with her. I always think about that. It was very traumatic.”

Not only did Carmen lose her mom, but her sister Debbie also departed unexpectedly one week later.

“My sister sort of just out-of-the-blue passed away, and there was never an explanation,” she says. “The autopsy report—it didn’t say that there was anything wrong with her, so it was strange.”

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Still, there’s a lesson to learn from all the pain.

“People that we love but are close to us that pass away, they don’t want us to stop living, and they don’t want us to be sad," she says. "It took me a couple years to figure it out. It’s not anything I’ll ever get over, but I understand it more clearly, and you have to go on. You have to. You can’t destroy your life or yourself because of it. It’s life.”

She adds, “I’ve learned quite a bit. [laughs] I think maybe my next step will be to be a motivational speaker [laughs] with all this I’ve learned.”

Check out Carmen's single I Like It Loud on iTunes.

Are you surprised that Carmen is so insightful? Tweet us @okmagazine.

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