Tag Archives: life path

The Authentic Life…?

In doing research for my next book, I started seeing a trend. The “authentic life” is the buzz in the self-help world.

Seems like every life coach, meditation expert, creative consultant and self-help blogger is writing about the need to live authentically. I’m not immune, either. Heck, in the sub-title of my book I claim that if one follows what I’ve presented, an authentic life can be had. I stick by that claim…

But, I began wondering, what does having an authentic life actually mean?

Most of the stuff I read was either framed in the context of religion/spirituality, or via some type of new age belief system. Of course, this got my mind going…what if one wasn’t religious or particularly spiritual? In fact, does morality even come into play when considering “the authentic life”?

For example, I would argue that Donald Trump has led an extraordinarily authentic life and he doesn’t strike me as being exceptionally spiritual (I could be wrong, of course). Just seems like Trump is who Trump is, makes no bones or pretense about it. Of course, that authenticity is already being tested in this political season. Guess we all have our trials.

Then I started thinking about other folk, people who were really coming from left field – like Salvador Dali or Ayn Rand. Both led colorful, push-the-envelope lives that can only be described as authentic. Dali was, well, Dali. And Rand invented Objectivism. Neither was particularly spiritual (Dali was an agnostic and Rand an atheist). Would their lives fit into the current ethos?

So, maybe I’m missing something. Seems like “the authentic life” has nothing to do with morality or right and wrong. I mean, couldn’t a criminal lead an authentic life? Maybe not one that you or I would live, but…

Or, maybe we define having an authentic life based upon a set of agreed upon principles and ideas. I’ll go there next post in my quest to define exactly what is meant by having an authentic life.

 

The Insidious Art of Self-Betrayal

When I was in college I had a friend who had a friend (call him Joe) who was going to UCLA. He was pre-Med. His grandfather, father, and older brothers all preceded him – they went to UCLA, graduated from medical school, became doctors. Plus, during their school years none received less than an “A” in any class. With brilliance and perfection, they successfully navigated the life path that was set before them.

Joe was following in those mighty footsteps. That is, until his Senior year when he received a “B” in one of his classes. Distraught and unable to face his father and brothers with the blemish on the family record, Joe bought a gun and put a bullet between his ears.

While this is tragic enough, the story is even sadder – Joe didn’t even want to be a doctor.

A gifted illustrator, Joe wanted to be an artist.

While this is an extreme example, how many of us betray our true path in life? How often do we co-opt a dream to satisfy some external pressure or expectation? How often do we lay down our life for the sake of pleasing someone else?

I’m not talking about the courage of a soldier sacrificing his life so others might live – that’s heroic and different.

There is nothing heroic about forfeiting natural gifts, or the plan associated with those gifts, so that others might be pleased.

Obviously there are practical concerns. We all need to take care of our families, meet obligations, earn a living. That’s good. But, depending on the survey, 50-75% of the workforce either hate their job or are looking for something new.

If we’re working for a paycheck, then we also should be seeking our true calling – especially if we hate the job we’re in! The problem is that we often do not know the true nature of our calling.

In the first section of my book (shameless plug) I have an exercise that’s helpful in seeking out and identifying our calling. It focuses on the stuff we enjoy doing, we’re interested in doing, and that we’d do for free. Quite often you can take on your calling while you still work to pay the mortgage. All you have to do is give yourself permission to move forward.

Moving forward – isn’t that a big part of an authentic life?

I wish my buddy’s friend at UCLA would have given himself permission to not be a doctor, to pursue his art. And, I’ve met so many people who carry something dead inside because they aren’t living their calling. Maybe it’s time to take a deep breath and quit betraying themselves.