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To Be or Not to Be: True to Yourself in 2017?

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Can I let you in on a little secret? I didn’t use to know who I was. That’s right. My identity was like plasticine- soft, malleable and at the mercy of the hands of others. I couldn’t have told you who I was, as it depended on a vast array of ever- changing circumstances, the people around me and the mood of the day. I was fragile as glass, and had never once considered what it meant to be the authentic me.

 

Let me ask you a question: who are you? Please don’t tell me what you do- important as it may be in defining your identity, I didn’t ask how you spend your working week. Nor do I want to hear about your closest relationships and the roles you play- fundamental though they may be in the painting the portrait of your life. I asked: WHO ARE YOU? What are the characteristics that define you? What do you do better than most? What beliefs or causes would you fight for? What do you feel most proud of? What would you do with your life if nobody was watching? How would you spend your last twenty-four dollars? Or twenty -four hours?

 

These questions may take time to answer. We distract ourselves from such pondering, filling our lives with plans, with products, with places to go and people to see. Yet we should make this pursuit our priority. We may need to delve deep inside ourselves- a deep sea diver on a quest to uncover coral- but from the depths of the dark water will come the glimmer of authenticity.

 

 Psychologists Michael Kernis and Brian Goldman describe authenticity as being true to ourselves- being congruent in our thoughts, our feelings and our behaviours. It is known to lead to healthy psychological functioning, and creates a deep sense of life satisfaction and well-being. So let me ask you again- who are you? A wonderful tool to uncover your character strengths (and thus also glean insight into your core values) is the VIA Survey of Character Strengths found here:

https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/user/login

Positive Psychologists Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson found that our strengths are linked to life satisfaction, and our frequent use of them correlates to higher well-being (Ruch, Proyer and Buschor).

 

What would happen if you were to become more aware of these strengths on a daily basis? How about if you could look for tiny ways to slip them into your daily interactions? What would it take for you to be five percent more authentic in your work? How about in your relationships? How might it affect what you do? How might it change the relationships?

 

Who do you want to become in 2017? Let me tell you one more secret. I told you at the start of this that I know who I am. I do, to a certain extent. I know my strengths, as well as my weaknesses. I know what matters most to me; I know how I’d spend my final hours on this earth. I know what drives me- I feel a sense of purpose in pursuing that which I love. Yet, and this is a very important yet- we are all work in progress. I recognize that I’m on a journey of constant transition. The person I am now will constantly evolve- influenced by opportunities, setbacks and perhaps even the whim of fate itself. However, in the midst of all this change I will stay true to my core self, and from this rock of stability I will embrace all that comes my way. Authenticity may not be a destination, if not the vehicle in which we decide to travel. Once we jump on board, we will travel to places previously out of our reach; places which will feel like home, and in which we’ll want to stay, ever evolving into a better, brighter and truer version of ourselves. 

 

Here’s to being exactly as we are in 2017- embracing our uniqueness, and ever growing into who we really are!