recently, i came across two highly valuable individuals whose work blows my mind. it is like these two, separate, unique individuals are speaking directly TO & FOR me.

brene brown who created an “authenticity” movement at her blog, ordinary courage specifically seems to speak for me. her philosophy nearly mirrors my own, ever-evolving philosophy. among other things, she is currently hosting a read along of her recent book, i thought it was just me, on her blog. she is a social work educator at the University of Houston School of Social Work who has completed a valuable research on shame and perfectionism. i insist that you check out her writings both online and in print (or on a kindle—lust-lust-swoon-swoon). here is her authenticity pledge. it really just speaks to my heart. maybe it will speak to yours.

Brene Brown's Authenticity Pledge

ok. fine. dammit. how many times have you said that? thought it? me, i think it often, but i do have my own flair with words, more crude, but definitely a flair all it’s own. this next so called discovery of mine, i just cannot begin to adequately put words to print that would convey the depth that her writing has touched me. she, too, echos the emotions and thoughts, not just of me, but of many. maggie, dammit, well she’s the one with the real flair for words that are actually worth sharing. please just go straight to her blog and start reading. you won’t be sorry. really. you won’t.

I have been listening to The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch on my iPod. If you haven’t yet read it or listened to it, you should! It is definitely a story that can change your life for the better.  One of the questions Pausch posed in this book simply knocked the breath out of me. I surely wasn’t expecting it, but it really threw me for a loop. The narrator said “What makes you unique?” and suddenly I was at a loss for words. What, indeed, makes you (or me) unique? For me, lots of people are daughters, sisters, friends, short, fat, brunette, PhDs, American, so on and so forth. None of these things makes me necesarily unique in any way. When you ask this question, you’re really asking “what makes you you?”.

My challenge to you today is to answer this question. Maybe you want to write your answer in a journal or on your own blog or in the comments here. Take your time, really consider it. What makes you unique?

photo by B Tal

photo by B Tal

value is a word that i have encountered quite a good bit recently. it comes from delving into the social media and social marketing worlds online where there are catch phrases galore. the focus on value seems to be unavoidable:  value in business. value in relationships. value in products. value in services. rightly so, in my humble opinion, for our society has turned its back on value and quality for far too long. and i don’t just mean in regard to consumer products and services. mostly, i mean value in  relationships with others–either business or social and most importantly, value within yourself.

how can one expect to contribute to the value of community (twitter), the value of a product, the value of a business, if they don’t first find value within themselves?

these are questions that i’m asking myself this week:

  • where do you find value within?
  • how can you develop value within?
  • what will be the outward effects of increased inner value?

what questions can you answer to help YOU increase your inner value? do you think it will have any effect on your other relationships — personal, social, business, community, etc. ?

by hans_s

by hans_s

today i learned of the passing of a very special person close to my family. while the loss is painful, there is also joy in it. joy? why, you might ask? regardless of what my beliefs about the so called afterlife might be, i know that his pain is now gone. he lived. he loved. he certainly made a difference in my life and the lives of many others. now, the job ahead is to let go of any ideas that things could be any different than they are; to learn to accept what comes and use it to shape our lives. i do not mean to lead a passive life in which nothing is a big deal. what i mean is to realize that there are some things that we truly have no control over, thus, our best use of energy in such situations is to let go of it. it is in letting go that we retain our energy, learn, and grow.

today i have to let go of a special person. tomorrow it might be letting go of a situation at work. what do you need to let go of today in order to progress?

ok so they are not really “tricks” or short-cuts or anything like that, but you looked didn’t you?these are more like 7 simple thoughts that i had about happiness as i was contemplating my personal philosophy of being more authentic.

1) the more authentic you are, the happier you are likely to be
2) everyone defines happiness differently
3) happiness, like beauty, is not static or constant; but rather fluid and ever changing, it ebbs and flows like the tides
4) your happiness is a collaborative project between your mind, your heart, and your actions
5) sometimes the most unexpected things (people, events, etc) will contribute to your happiness
6) you get what you give: give happiness & you will get it back
7) a smile goes a long way in changing your perspective on the world & the world’s perspective of you

these thoughts weren’t always the ones that i subscribed to. in the past, i have had a very cynical view of personal happiness.a few years ago my 7 simple statements may have read more like:

1) happiness is for those who have privilege only
2) everyone has problems mostly and only a few are truly happy
3) i will never find happiness because i just don’t deserve it
4) happiness is a fantasy
5) the more i get treated badly by the world, the more badly i am entitled to behave
6) my anger is justified & whoever gets in the line of fire is SOL
7) life is indeed a b@tch
the road that i have traveled in order to change my perspective from the second list to the first list has been a long, dreary, uncertain, and rocky road. there are still many more miles ahead of me of road conditions that i cannot and will not even begin to predict. i’m certain that my views will continue to evolve, as i evolve.

what about you? what are 7 simple statements about happiness that sum it up for you right now–today? does your list look more like my first list or the second list?

In the previous post, I introduced you to my basic philosophy of happiness. To me, being happy can be equated with being authentic.

Like building a frame for a house, we must build a frame for our happiness through authenticity. If you are building your reality, your world, your life on top of honest internal processing and development of values, beliefs, and philosophy, you will build a life of happiness that can withstand the tests of time and the ravages of Mother Nature.

If you build your reality on a lifetime of avoiding your own truths, beliefs, & desires, you may as well be building a house of cards on the sand of a beach: It won’t mean much. It won’t last long. You’ll spend a great deal of time patching it up and constantly worried that it will collapse any minute. If this is how you continually build and rebuild your life, that’s pretty much all you’ll be doing: building something with no substance and no sustainability.

Now, when we take the time to build a sturdy frame of truth and awareness for our lives, we are building something that may very well last forever. We may, at some point down the line, decide to change things up, like remodeling, adding on, doing a little landscaping or exterior improvements. We may even make the drastic decision to tear it down to the frame before re-building, but we never have to rip out the framing because it is our truth. The closer we get to authenticity, the closer we get to our truth.

Today, I hope that you will begin the real work that is finding your truth—doing your frame-work.

it isn’t as easy as some may lead you to believe.  this whole process of creating yourself and your life the way YOU want it to be is definitely hard work. just when you think you have made significant advancements, you realize that there is something you have to work on some more or that you neglected (or more likely avoided) because it was just too painful/messy/old/whatever your excuse.

just remember that in life we relearn lessons constantly. i like to call it authenticating. now we will never be perfect, but we are constantly evolving–getting better at who we are and figuring out who we want to be. in the process, we make adjustments to our goals, values, wants, needs, desires.
one of the most important questions that you can ask yourself is “what do i really want?”

  • what do YOU want for yourself regardless of what others may expect of you.
  • what if you had no one to please but yourself?
  • what would you do?
  • what would you be?
  • why?

arriving at an answer today may look entirely different from the answer that you give 5 years from now (or 5 years ago). that’s the beauty of it. you can recreate as you evolve.

today, i’d like you to find a nice quiet place (even if that place is on the subway with millions of other commuters) where you can focus inwardly rather than outwardly. imagine you in charge of your life. really focus on the question of “what do you really want?” in the contexts of your own personal choosing (i.e. job, lifestyle, family, relationships, personal actions, whatever). basically, i want you to meditate on that question. you may find your answer almost immediately. it may take several days, weeks or months for you to be able to answer. the process of arriving at the answer is more important that just the answer.
what about you? where will you ponder your question today? what will you do to help yourself focus on the process? what do you need to let go of in order to be the most authentic you possible?

this blog is all about being authentic. being real. being you. sometimes just finding out who you are is a task in and of itself; thus being authentic or real is a fluid process, not a static condition. each and every human being is in a constant state of change. sometimes progressing. sometimes regressing. yet ever changing.

we can become more authentic by learning to pay attention to the constant changes, learning from them, and integrating their lessons into our spirits.

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