What does it mean to live authentically? Authenticity holds a power that is almost mystical in nature. It's magnetic and we long for it now more than ever. Why? My view is that authenticity opens the doorway to a life of spirit. What does the path of authenticity look like? Let's explore the seven stepping stones that lead to a life of freedom and joy.
FIRST STONE: Be happy for no reason. There's nothing you need to become, nothing that needs to happen, in order for you to be happy. Happiness is simply a choice. Let go of the 'when/then' game: When I lose 10 pounds, then I'll be happy. When I'm in that perfect relationship, then I'll be happy. Here's the deal: Happiness doesn't come when you've achieved your goals--it's what allows you to achieve them. The happiness that you seek is not the reward waiting for you at the end of your journey. It's what makes the journey possible in the first place.
SECOND STONE: End the blame game. Do you blame others for the way your life has unfolded or is unfolding? Is it the fault of your childhood, your spouse, your boss, or the current state of world affairs that you are not happy? Are you giving away your power by seeing yourself as a victim? To become empowered you have to take responsibility for yourself and for the way your life is going. No person or event can determine the shape of your life unless you allow it. You allow it when you choose the safety of powerlessness over the risk of self-determination. The only failure in life is not choosing for yourself how you're going to live it. When you choose responsibility, a glorious thing happens: You stop living life in half measures and your life blooms in all its richness.
THIRD STONE: Simplify. Authenticity has a very hard time flourishing in the weed-strewn soil of complexity. You must pull out the weeds and make space for your soul desires to flourish. Simplifying involves ridding yourself of materials, activities, and people that drain or scatter your energy. Clutter is the most visible sign of an overgrown life. Go through your stuff and clear out everything that you don't use or that doesn't please you emotionally. After you've cleared some physical space, see if you can free up some time. Without time to slow down and connect to your heart, you won't be able to hear its whisperings. Finally, you've got to rid yourself of people who are toxic to you, who weigh you down instead of uplifting you. When you've cleared a clean, fertile space in your life you can plant the seeds of your authenticity and cultivate your passion.
FOURTH STONE: Relish being selfish. Oh no, I used the 'S' word! We've been told for so long that being selfish is bad. If you stop to think about it, anyone who says so is probably saying it out of a selfish desire for you to follow their rules! If you want to live freely you have to become selfish. There is nothing wrong with serving the Self. You have to put your own needs and desires above everyone and everything precisely in order to serve everyone and everything. It's exhausting to try to be all things to all people. You were never meant to apply your energy in this scattering way, but to concentrate your energy into the singular expansion of your own genius and uniqueness. Selfishness in the highest sense of the word is about being yourself so fully that you can share yourself fully with others.
FIFTH STONE: Do your healing work. Healing work is about confronting the habits, hurts, and fears that keep you living small. When you allow the fullness of who you are to step into the light, healing happens. The need for escapism, cures, and self-destructive habits diminishes. When you let go of any guilt, pain, anger, or unworthiness that you're experiencing you open up the channel of effortless being. Universal Energy can flow through and you become the instruments of spirit you were meant to be. There are many practices for doing healing work, from therapy to EFT to prayer. Find what works for you and commit to shifting any beliefs or feelings that are holding you back.
SIXTH STONE: Cultivate compassion. Compassion is a profound human emotion. It pulls us out of egocentrism, enabling us to experience oneness with another and with all things. This is another facet of authenticity because compassion removes the ego's false gods of competition, morality and judgment from their thrones. It allows us an expanded view of the world--as spirit sees it. There is nothing more freeing than allowing others their choices, than supporting them instead of trying to change them, or than honoring their own ability to guide themselves.
SEVENTH STONE: Hand over your keys. We've all heard the adage of surrendering to a higher power, of "letting go and letting God." The key here is to realize that this higher power is not something outside of you, it's within you. Surrender, then, is not powerlessness. Surrender is about turning over the driver's seat of your life to your soul--to the full, intelligent, powerful, creative being that is the true you. It's about freeing yourself from the reckless driving of your personality that keeps crashing you into one dissatisfying conundrum after another or that keeps speeding you right past all those lovely, magical roadside attractions. When you let your soul guide you, you surrender to the need to reach any destination, knowing that wherever you are in the moment is perfect.
The path to an authentic life is a journey inward to our inner being instead of outward into the world. It's about claiming the power within us instead of seeking our power externally. Authenticity means honoring the self, not the self-image. It means listening to soul rather than to ego. It allows our hearts, so long shushed by our intellects, to finally speak.