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Authenticity – Letting The Inner You Shine

Mountain-Sunset-ReflectionRemember when life was simple and understandable?  Yeah, neither do I.  As reality would have it, we exist in a world of context, image and ambiguity.  Some by choice, other by perception.  Where does that leave authenticity?  Answer, you and me.  It is incumbent upon each of us to project our authentic self.  And it is when we are most still that clarity and awareness reveal themselves to us.

We must first acknowledge and accept that we are all very complex beings.  We value, we believe, we hope, we fear, we love, we avoid, we seek, we appreciate, we contemplate, we aspire, we interact, we influence, we anticipate and we pray… that others understand and respect us.

Given the hodgepodge of mixed messages we emit to the world in a continuous fashion, it is no surprise that misunderstanding occurs on a very regular and frequent basis.  And what results is tension, confusion, anxiety, fear and even depression.  Just to be clear, I’m describing the emotions each of us experience as we live our lives while striving to reveal ourselves to the world.

Much of life’s stress can be channeled, perhaps even avoided, if we can truly look within ourselves to identify the person in the mirror.  Self_ImageHow we are ‘wired’, what we believe, where we are going and what is our goal.  Man, if we don’t know this, how do we expect anyone else to figure it out?

The best advice I’ve ever discovered is, “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” – William Shakespeare

This is not rocket science, people.  It is pure and unadulterated common sense, yet it goes without heed by millions on a daily basis for all eternity.  Self-awareness is the key to happiness and happiness means something uniquely distinct to each of us.  Self-awareness alone, however, does not lift the fog of life.  It must be coupled and forever joined with courage; the courage to live your conscience and core values without apology and certainly without hesitation.

“Profound truths such as trust, relationships, harmony, happiness, respect, dignity and motivation all become squarely within our grasp as human beings, once self-awareness and courage are lifted from the toolbox of life and used as a habit in each of our lives.”

BalancePersonally, I’ve found that I am most happy when the reality of my life is in balance and harmony with my core values and faith.  I live to help others, to generate good will, to share positive energy, to be a happy and content person, to experience the world on my terms, to believe and practice my faith, and of course, to write.  All that I am is but a glimmer of the man I want to be; and that pursuit keeps me going like the energizer bunny, non-stop.

So, do yourself (and the world) a favor and get to know yourself before crafting that image, creating that context and eradicating that ambiguity that others see as you.  Focus on who you want to be and not what others believe you should be.  Strive to project the image of your spirit and aura and most importantly, be honest with yourself.  It is only then that Truth will reveal itself to you.



Understanding the Two Most Important Relationships in Your Life

Jesus_ChristWhen each of us was born, our “story” began a new chapter in our book of eternal being.  This worldly experience, overladen with physical senses that dominate our existence, draws us toward each other like a black hole swallows matter.  The concept of relationships dominates our lives and one would surmise we should be, well, pretty darn good at them.

Enter reality.  In truth, relationships are anything but easy.  They are most times multi-dimensional and complex, full of emotion, vary in intensity, duration and value, and are almost always unpredictable.  They come in all shapes and sizes, from friends, to co-workers, neighbors, family, lovers, spouses, professional associates, to hobbyists, group members, political, and yes, religious-based beliefs.

At the core of any relationship is the mindset, followed closely by the interaction; over time, Mirror_Image_2producing a relationship history or memory bank of sorts, which by the way, also influences the relationship as it develops.  And the mindset, almost a living, breathing entity of its own, is born of personal values, beliefs and internal and external environments via previous experiences.

Of all the various relationships that exist for each of us through our lives, there are two, that largely determine how “successful”, or perhaps more accurately described as meaningful, all the others will be.

The first and most influential relationship is with Jesus Christ.  The level of acknowledgement, acceptance and trust, conversation, comfort and respect determine the quality, strength and depth of the relationship.  The more refined and developed it becomes in our lives, the more sensitive and in tune we are with the second most important relationship; that which we have with ourselves.

“Without exception, individuals with a high degree of self-awareness, interests, skills, peace, self-respect and knowledge of limitations or boundaries (both strengths and weaknesses), experience more enduring and better quality relationships with others.”

This self-awareness is manifested in our lives as authenticity, genuineness, sense of harmony and clear life priorities.  Not only do we experience little self-doubt or alignment of actions with thought as a result, in addition, the spirit that others likewise see us as, is more accurately aligned with who we truly are as unique and individual human beings.

Grief_LossPossessing, recognizing and maintaining healthy relationships with God and ourself is akin to looking out a perfectly clear/clean window as compared to one which is dirty, clouded or in worst cases, visibly blocked.

The essential point to remember is to cherish and take care of these two relationships in your life over any and all others, as they will illuminate your path as a bright pair of headlights makes your future travel/path readily seen.  Choices become more obvious and easier to make.  In a similar fashion, each of us readily recognizes and embraces accountability for our actions.

As the foundation of a house supports the weight of the building and maintains the infrastructure, our relationships with Jesus Christ and ourselves support all our interactions in life.  And like our own being, relationships are eternal if we want them to be.  It’s all about understanding, communication, compassion and Love.  Say it Loud….  Say it Clear.  Be well.

ABC’s of the Redemptive Alphabet

BXP26284In so many ways, each of us gets caught up in the hectic, decision-laden and stressful aspects of that 24-hour experience called Life.  And then, we “Rinse and Repeat”.  We juggle multiple priorities and tasks, we are required to make numerous decisions (some as a result of technology) and we allow ourselves to be distracted, agitated and stressed by far too many things.  As much as we are each unique in the eyes of God, we are patently similar in this regard.

The solution to this dilemma, this seemingly never-ending maze of confusion, frustration and bombardment of information by the outside world; is amazingly simple, if only we internalize it, focus on it and most importantly, apply it as we navigate the oft-time rough seas of daily life.

That solution I call the “ABC’s of the Redemptive Alphabet” and it goes something like this:

  • [A] Altruism – The principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others.
  • [B] Benevolence – Desire to do good to others; goodwill; charitableness: to be filled with benevolence toward one’s fellow creatures.
  • [C] Compassion – Feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

Most importantly, the common thread or vein running through these synergistic behaviors is a focus on others.  I’ve found this path to be, against all temptations, the most surefire and effective method of personal development.  At first glance it appears to be counter-intuitive, however, after some deep reflection about it, hopefully it will become obvious that the essence of focusing on others, in addition to actually becoming aware of their needs, strengths and behaviors, is to become aware of your own unique and special digestion, processing and reaction to them.  In short, the recognition, awareness and acceptance of your core values, ideas and beliefs.Mahatma-Gandhi

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony”Mahatma Gandhi

Paradoxically, it is only by paying attention to others, that we learn about ourselves and also about humility and servant leadership.  And oh, what enormously powerful knowledge that self-awareness truly is!  Many people spend a lifetime attempting to learn who they are, or at a minimum, simply learning how important it is to know yourself.  Once armed with that sacred knowledge, we can effectively align our thoughts, ideas, reactions and behaviors toward living a focused and disciplined life, ultimately realizing our true calling, spirit, nature and authenticity.

For those that haven’t yet begun or are in the midst of that journey, there is no time like the present to embark on it.

Christopher-Columbus“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore” Christopher Columbus

Godspeed and health to you on your Journey…

Reality Check – Writing Your Own Obituary

I’ve shared my thoughts about Self-Awareness, Faith, God, the concept of “Being” and Free Will.  All somewhat abstract, yet oh so real concepts that define, frame and help us comprehend who we are and what we’re about.  One exercise I learned as a high-school student, however, stands out above others in not only communicating to others who we are, but in viewing ourselves through the eyes of others that intimately know us as well as those that do not.

That exercise is writing your own obituary.  It may seem morbid at first blush, until you consider what an obituary really is at its core and what it concisely frames for others to see.  An obituary is a recounting of someone’s life, the choices they made, the people they associated with, the obstacles they faced and overcame, the items they deemed highest priority, the circumstances they met, the legacy they leave behind and the manner in which they left this reality.  It is your biography in condensed form.

In truth, an obituary is so much more than a paragraph in the local newspaper.  It is a testimony and story that summarizes and distills the being of a single child of God and communicates how a person prioritized their life and what they emphasized as important.  In many ways, it reveals the character and personality of an individual and encapsulates the essence of their being.

Ironically and unfortunately for each of us, it is precisely these bits of information, insight and compassion that would be much better served if they were known by others and in some cases, by us, before we die and leave the world to speak no more.

So, what better way to look at ourselves, our lives, our decisions and priorities than to compose and conduct that symphony of life with our very hands.  What is produced as the outcome of the exercise will undoubtedly be an uncanny perception of our being that may or may not reflect who we really think we are.

In essence, it is that Ebenezer Scrooge moment of clarity and introspection, hopefully absent of remorse and abundant with just what value or quality we added to the world by our presence.  At best, it will present an argument for personal change in certain areas of our lives that need better alignment with our spirit and soul.  Most importantly, it provides that opportunity, that luxury of time for us to recognize and implement that change.

Take the time to recognize who you really are.  You may just get the surprise of your life!

Are you Authentic or are you Living Someone Else’s Version of You?

We see it every day in marketing slogans, advertising and billboards:

  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • The Real Deal
  • Authentic Athletic Performance
  • It’s the Real Thing

So, what exactly does it mean to be an authentic person and/or live an authentic life?

For me, authenticity is a storyboard.  It is knowing who I am, my aptitudes, interests, skills, limitations.  It is what my core values are, what is important to me, where I draw my boundaries, defining my goals and developing my relationships.  Once that framework is defined (it is never complete), it’s a road map of sorts, call it my internal compass of where I ‘should’ be going and what I ‘should’ be doing in life.

The caveat, of course, is how closely my actual life aligns or mirrors this road map.  The degree to which they align drives the ‘authenticity reading’ on my personal life ‘meter’.

The more closely my alignment becomes, the better I feel about myself, the lower stress I experience and the happier I become and more peaceful I feel.  This is not rocket science, folks!  It is common sense, taking yourself seriously and then making the commitment to change what needs changing and doing more of the things that create and maintain that alignment; and harmony.

Two essential points about authenticity:

1. Self-Awareness (knowing and accepting who you are as a human being)

2. Ownership (taking responsibility for who you are and holding yourself accountable for the results)

Jack Webb sought the Facts – I’ll take the Truth

The days of BW (Black & White) television emerged many classic iconic series.  One of them featured Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday and Harry Morgan as Bill Gannon in Dragnet; a transitional, yet impactful made-for-television crime drama series that originated on the radio in pre-television America.

The verbal moniker that evolved into one of today’s most recognizable maxims opened the weekly show with “Just the facts, ma’am”.  As much as facts are a prerequisite to solving crimes and mysteries, many times, they in fact, do not reveal the Truth.

As facts serve to define, outline and describe some earthly, visible and physical object, event or situation, conversely, the truth is the core knowledge or awareness of something that completely exposes and shares its presence.  Inherently, truth is an inward sense of something as opposed to facts, which are outward in nature.

As a living and spiritual being, I have always sought the truth of any matter and have never settled for mere facts.  In reality, facts are simply bread crumbs that lead to the truth.  In many ways, society today has confused facts with the truth, believing they are one in the same.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

In the search for inner knowledge and self-awareness, there is a ‘food chain’ of related concepts…  Data, in its empirical form, leads to information, when combined with additional information, leads to the creation of fact, and when facts are woven together, they can lead to hypotheses, which then creates knowledge.  The ultimate expression of knowledge is wisdom, and wisdom is the only pathway to the revelation of truth.

In following the journey of data to truth, one quickly gets a sense of the vast separation and distinction of the two and likewise, the  gap between facts and truth.

The supreme power of truth is in its application in the journey of discovering who you are, how you function as a person and how your presence affects the world around you.  In essence, discovering truths about yourself leads to complete self-awareness and eventually to the purpose of your life.

Make no mistake, there are multiple truths as there are multiple scenarios in life.  Specifically, truths that pertain to work, family, relationships, aptitudes, beliefs, skills, attitudes, education, etc.

A primary goal in life is to acquire and discern your truths of self, and then, acknowledge and apply them to your life to realize your potential as a human being.  Anything less is an infringement of life itself as well as a waste of your unique and invaluable energy.

Live well, be well and do well.  That is the Truth.


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