“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” ― May Sarton
Over the past year the idea of leading an authentic life has been a daily question in life. Is what I am doing in this moment something I authentically want to be doing or am I doing it to appease some outside force. It was spring 2012 that the realization hit that life was not authentic, I had the job that “looked good on paper” was a “rising star” (one professor once said) in the education community. Life was pretty good but inauthentic. It was never my desire and almost a decade into a career I found myself questioning why and how I got there. Then in the summer I cut the cord, took life in a new direction and for the first time took control over my actions and began living authentically.
Living “authentically” means being real, looking yourself in the mirror and being honest with who you are and what you want. This can be a scary first step. Psychologists Brian Goldman and Michael Kernis talked about living authentically as “the unimpeded operation of one’s true or core self in one’s daily enterprise.” The two things central to an authentic life are self knowledge and self-awareness. It’s taking both the good and the bad and knowing where you excel and your own downfalls. Once we can see both we break ourself from the need to be constantly “perfect” in our world around us. We except our cracks, scars, and move forward.
The cornerstone to all this is self-awareness. It’s realizing your own decisions might be unpopular and against the norm, but if it makes you happy then it’s an authentic choice. It’s about truly getting to know yourself, flaws, cracks and all and loving them. It has been said before that in order to love another you must truly and deeply love yourself. No one should love you more than you love yourself in every aspect of your life. Authentic people are happier in life, they know what they are doing and why they choose to do it. If something is stressing you out, making you sad or anger you are probably not living your authentic self. Below are five ways to help create a more authentic life adapted from Polly Campbell‘s article for Gaiam.
5 Ways to Create a More Authentic Life
Redefine Your Values. Prioritize the things you value, do more of those and less of the things you don’t care about. Once you know the things you care about and value you can foster those ideals.
Open Your Mind. Reframe the way you look at things, and open up to other possibilities. If you are able to look at a situation from more than one view you will see a more well-rounded world around you. Forget the ideal of good and bad and look for the gray areas.
Share Who You Really Are. Instead of projecting the person you think people want to see be open and share who you truly are. It’s a scary and daunting task but once you do your relationships will grow from superficial to truly meaningful interactions.
The Inauthentic Self. Take notice of the persona you put out, notice when you are guarding your speech or your actions. Acknowledge to yourself you are bring inauthentic and look at why you need to say or do it, what do you free will happen if you tell the truth?
Instincts. Use your intuition and instincts. It was breed into us as humans to sense things around us, today many ignore this innate skill. There is no such thing as a random hunch or impression. As you begin to live more authentically, those around you masking true intentions seem to put off a distinct vibe. Much like you put off the opposite vibe when you are truly being yourself. It’s magical when it all comes together.
Stuff. This is a personal piece of advice from experience. Get rid of excess stuff. There really is no need for a lot of the stuff we have hanging around in our life. Getting rid of excess things gives us the time to focus on the five things listed above and can lead more free time to expand on your key values and wants.
Finally, I saw this video put out by Salomon the other day and to me this is a true vision of one man living his own authentic lifestyle on his terms and his way. Not only is he happy, healthy, but you can see in his eyes he is content and truly living an authentic life. I continue to strive to lead my life authentically, sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fall back into old habits. It’s not about succeeding all the time, but it’s about having the courage to acknowledge and call yourself out when you aren’t being the real you. This is the goal, not perfection. Because perfection is boring, authenticity is much more fun and exciting.