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Living Authentically

The Key to Modern Day Happiness

Everyone preaches the need for authenticity. Yet, it feels risky to be truly open and authentic. We want to fit in. We want people to like us. And we wish everyone would accept us just the way we are.

To achieve this acceptance, we sometimes choose to show who we think we could be ror who we think they want us to be, rather than what we truly are. That's why social media is so full of "fake people."

Some say authenticity is about owning your thoughts and feelings. Others say it's about being truthful, whether or not you get hurt by telling the truth. Still, others say it's about not caring what others think.

What Does it Truly Mean to Live Authentically?

Put simply, authenticity means you're true to your own personality, values, and spirit, regardless of the pressure that you're under to act otherwise. You're honest with yourself and with others, and you take responsibility for your mistakes. Authenticity means accepting that you're perfectly imperfect and learning to love yourself despite that.

Authenticity doesn't make you immune to criticism, hurt feelings, or rejection. You can still get rejected and embarrassed when expressing yourself - and yes, that can sting. However, by being authentic, you won't have to carry around the fear that everyone else is thinking one thing about you versus your opinion of what's going on around you.

Adopting an authentic attitude is about embracing reality. It's about letting go of wishful thinking. An authentic attitude is about facing your fears and making difficult choices. By being authentic, you're free to express how you feel, communicate your ideas, and make decisions that support your values.

7 Core Qualities of Authentic People:

According to Psychology Today, here are the core qualities of authentic people:

  • Have realistic perceptions of reality.

  • Are accepting of themselves and of other people.

  • Are thoughtful.

  • Have a non-hostile sense of humor.

  • Are able to express their emotions freely and clearly.

  • Are open to learning from their mistakes.

  • Understand their motivations.

Why Choose To Be Authentic?

It is harder to be ourselves today than at any point in history. There are more opportunities to fit in and reach a broad audience, and there are more opportunities to present a "pretty picture" on social media.

Social media is one place where it's easy to get caught in a trap of inauthenticity. When hiding behind the safety of a keyboard, we can try on different personas and paint a picture of who we might like to be. But, the potential downside of trying on different personas is that we can easily lose our sense of who we are; we become confused about what's us and what's not us. It's like we're playing dress-up and pretending. But, when we lose sight of our authentic selves, that internal friction can leave us feeling anxious or depressed. We might feel ugly or different from everyone else, we might not feel like we fit in, or that somehow we're not living up to some invisible standard. Some people's lives may even feel pointless because they don't know their purpose in life.

When you adopt and foster an inauthentic persona, you're basically affirming that the real you is not up to standard - that you dislike being you. Hiding who you are or suppressing your true self often leaves you feeling unfulfilled and meaningless.

“I think the greatest wound we’ve all experienced is somehow being rejected for being our authentic self. And then, as a result of that, we try to be what we’re not to get approval, love, protection, safety, money, whatever.” -Jack Canfield

The choice to be authentic will lead to your happiness and contentment. It's the only way you can experience life on your terms and stay true to yourself. To remain true to yourself, you must embrace reality.

The best way to do that is by being 100% honest with yourself, whatever that may be.

How Can We Become More Authentic?

Try these strategies:

1. Be truthful. The whole idea behind authenticity is about maintaining our integrity with the truth. But many people learned from an early age to be people-pleasers, not truth-tellers.

  • Many of our parents taught us that there was nothing wrong with white lies. We learned to pretend and act as if we were friendly. But pretense is lying, even if we do so to protect others.

2. Speak your mind. Authenticity is all about speaking our minds and being honest with our feelings. Yet, this can be very dangerous in a world that can punish us for expressing ourselves too much or too little.

  • It can feel scary to speak up and not care what others think because we want to be true to ourselves. But, when you speak your mind in a kind and functional manner, you'll find the courage to step outside of the ordinary and say what you need to say without fear of judgment.

3. Understand your values. Getting clear on your values is a very simple but informative exercise that requires a little bit of time and white space to complete but can help us confidently navigate difficult choices and live more meaningful, authentic lives. Personal values are the things that are important to us, the characteristics and behaviors that motivate us and guide our decisions.

  • Clarifying and articulating your values starts with reflection. Values can be shaped by any number of life experiences including upbringing, religion, culture, education.

  • Once you are clear on your values, they will dictate everything you do - who you work with, the relationships you cultivate or let go of, the experiences you seek out. Every moment of every day, whether you realize it or not, you are making a decision of how to spend your time, of what to pay attention to, of where to direct your energy.

The most important thing in understanding authenticity is not about getting a high grade or shaking everyone up with how we speak the truth. It's about being true to ourselves, forging our path, and making decisions that support our values.

The goal of authenticity is to eliminate any feelings of shame and low self-worth. By being vulnerable, you'll be able to embrace a family of people who understand the real you.

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