Gathering Your Tools for an Authentic Life


Gathering Your Tools for an Authentic Life

What does it mean to live authentically?

This is my third post in my ‘Fundamentals for an Authentic Life’ series. You can read the other posts here: 10 Fundamentals for an Authentic Life and Setting Your Compass on the Road to an Authentic Life.

Let me step back for a moment and think about what it means to live an authentic life. Let’s turn to the dictionary for a moment:

Authentic Definition


“Of undisputed origin and not a copy.” “…relating to or denoting an emotionally appropriate, significant, purposive, and responsible mode of human life.”

An authentic life

In other words, an authentic life is one which is wholly your own. It has purpose and meaning. It is a life in which the principles and values you believe in are consistent with the choices you make day by day. It can be easy to find yourself chasing goals and pursuing a life in which you don’t believe. Especially in this age of Pinterest, Instagram and lifestyle bloggers. Other people make their choices seems so enticing and desirable.

Everyone has an opinion on how you should live your life. But an authentic life is one that is lived in alignment with your personal core values.

An authentic life brings you closer to your best self. It is a life which brings more light and love into the world each day. It is a life which rejects fear and darkness.

Go here to find out how to make sure your compass is pointing to true north. Today we’re going to talk about the tools you need in your quest for authenticity.

5. Stay open, curious and flexible

A few weeks ago I was talking about how I tended to be cynical and questioning about things. I love questions (see point #7) but constant questioning when it hides behind doubt can be a defense mechanism.

It stopped me from pursuing things that were in my heart for fear of being wrong.

On the other hand, maintaining an open-mind, a sense of curiosity and the willingness to be flexible about the way you see things can lead to personal growth.

Over the last few years, there have been times when being open to new things has lead me to places I’d never usually go. This has been both positive, and at times, less than positive.

Not everything out there resonates with me. Being too open to things which drain my energy is counterproductive. I’ve found myself in some blind alleys which took me nowhere.

But it is far healthier than being closed to everything. But when I also remember to be flexible I can quickly reset my course.

As for curiosity, it gets a bad rap and is known to kill cats. But maintaining an attitude of curiosity about myself and the world I live in is freeing. It counteracts a tendency to judge other people or myself.

Rather than judging or blaming others for their behavior, being curious allows you to wonder why people act the way they do. Which in the long run will open you to being more compassionate towards others.

6. Feed your imagination, creativity and your mind.

Our minds need to be fed just like our bodies. If we fill our heads with Netflix or Facebook or 24 Hour News Media, the things that come out of minds may be fear and paranoia.

If we are intentional about what goes into our mind, then we will get healthier things out. I all but gave up watching the news, and only briefly read news articles online.

The constant barrage of negativity can be addictive, but more and more of us are suffering from anxiety and related issues. If we want a healthy mind what we put into it needs to be healthy and good for us too.

The time which isn’t spent watching TV or scrolling through Facebook (I still do both these things, just much less) is freed up for other things. I read a lot, and try to include titles which are encouraging or uplifting. I take online courses or listen to podcasts.

If I don’t feel stronger or uplifted or inspired by something, I stop watching.

I want to encourage more creativity into my life, so feeding my creativity by consuming images, books and blog posts that help me to feel nourished is a must.

7. Treasure the Questions

The other day my son and I were at a local petting zoo. We were holding a mouse. I was saying things like “look at his long tail” or “be careful, it seems the mouse wants to escape” as it tried to run up my sleeve.

Euan took those observations and went to talk to the young man who was in charge.

“Why does the mouse have a long tail?”

“To help him balance and feel the edge of things. Look how he’s bending it around the edge of the bowl he’s in.”Reassurance

“Why does he want to escape?”
“He’s not trying to escape. He wants to see if there’s anything interesting. See he’s looking around.”

I couldn’t work out if the guy was happy to answer the questions, or found my son a bit overwhelming. His questions kept coming and coming!

Maybe I was just projecting my frustration when the stream of “whys” has no end and I’ve run out of answers.

But although I can find it a bit much when I’m tired (which is always), I am proud of my son’s curiosity and his love of asking questions.

He got some good answers and learned some things about mice.

As we get older, we can start to believe we need to have the answers, and that can lead us to stop asking questions. The answers are not as easy to come by, so best not to ask in the first place.

It is cute when a three-year-old asks why or annoying depending on the timing. As adults why is not always the best question to ask. We need to learn to ask better questions. But also to be open to the possibility that the question itself is the important thing.

I love this Alice Walker poem, so I will leave you with this today.

My friend Charlotte Marillet created a beautiful poster to accompany this series. Please enter your email in the box below to get your copy.

I love the way she interpreted my words through her illustration!

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