By living authentically, we can reach our potential and experience true happiness. By living with purpose, we can feel happy and optimistic.
In a world where success is defined by money, and happiness is just a weight-loss plan away, many of us have lost sight of our most valuable asset: our true selves. By living authentically, however, we can reach our potential and experience true happiness.
When you are living authentically, you feel happy and optimistic. You are honest and open and listen to your feelings. You can think for yourself, you are open to change; you can take responsibility, ask for help, and make healthy choices. More importantly, you want to do your best.
Your authentic voice is that quiet, persistent messenger who speaks to your intuition, telling you what is right for you and what you really need.
In her book Create A Life that Tickles Your Soul (Tower Hill Press, 1999), Suzanne Zoglio, PhD, explains, “When you fashion a life where the decisions you make and the actions you take are considered, deliberate, and in harmony with what\’s important to you, you are living an authentic life.”
You will know that you are not living authentically when you feel anxious, confused, depressed, helpless, or angry. If you are not being your true self, you are living to please or impress others, second-guess your decisions, or hide your feelings. You feel trapped.
The good news is that these negative feelings are trying to tell you something. They are the red flares in the middle of the night, alerting you that your soul needs rescuing.
Live Your Truth
Being authentic means being yourself every day, and some days, that isn’t easy. Going to cocktail parties, job interviews, first dates, and meetings, says counsellor and life coach Carol Adrienne, PhD, can make almost anyone’s authenticity feel wobbly. Being ourselves when we are with others, especially strangers, is challenging. The stress of those situations can cause us to regress into old patterns of feeling anxious and trying to fit in.
While it may seem easier to stay in your comfort zone, finding the courage to be who you really are in all areas of your life will help you realize your true potential and, consequently, find the fulfillment and peace that society often tells us comes from money or fame. To get to your true self, you may have to examine dreams you have forgotten, fears that are holding you back, or beliefs that are not your own.
Adrienne explains that “a good sign that you are feeling authentic is when you feel expanded and relaxed. Feeling hemmed in or contracted is a sign that you are shutting down and not being as present as you could be.”
The Gift Within
While there may be some twists and turns along the way, living authentically means that you are able to live by your own personal truth. When you live by who you really are, you find not only freedom and well-being but also the joy of giving your talents to the world. The passions, hobbies, and interests you had as a child become the gateways to your soul, your true self.
Finding the truth about who you really are and what is important to you takes honesty, awareness, and some time. But the path to real happiness is not paved with fame and material wealth. It exists every day, in the big decisions and small choices you make, in the pursuit of your authentic self.
An authentic life can emerge one small step at a time. Dr. Adrienne offers these simple changes that can help you live with more awareness:
- Meditate. Practise clearing your mind regularly.
- Specify the fear. Write down exactly what you are afraid of.
- Identify the voice. Is it yours or your mother’s or the TV’s?
- Eliminate procrastination. Achieving one small goal will help erase self-doubt.
- Appreciate your uniqueness. Find your special talent or skill.
- Surrender. Know when to let go.
- Slow down. Enjoy each moment and savour small pleasures.
- Stand up. Express your passion through action.
- Simplify. Learn to say no and clear clutter from your life.
- Embrace nature. The natural world relaxes us and puts things into perspective.