I have been thinking ….. Authenticity is the degree to which one has formed an understanding of oneself and is passionately sticking to the discovered personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures.
This does not mean you have to break the current ideals and norms. If it is truly you to work at Wall-street and wear a suit don’t feel pressured to run around in flip-flops and sing Buddhist songs all day instead. The Philosopher Erich From put it roughly this way. “Behavior of any kind, even that wholly in accord with societal standards, guidelines, morals, to be authentic if it results from personal understanding and approval of its drives and origins, rather than merely from conformity with the received wisdom of the society”. What he is basically saying is… MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND and in order to do so you need to sit down and take the time to think & reflect.
Make up your own mind and then take action on it.
The Prerequisite for authenticity
As noted in the definition above, self-awareness is the one core prerequisite for authenticity. I would like to avoid a long philosophical discussion about self-awareness here but instead just say that I love the fact that meditation/mindfulness/self-awareness is increasingly talked about. Most people won’t just wake up one day and know who they are at their core. It is a discovery and learning process and just like learning about anything else, there are certain tools and tricks that can help you and me to keep moving in the right direction.
What being authentic implies is, that you are willing to potentially shift the options you have in this world for the benefit of being yourself. Take as example those who simply flash their tattoos and do not press themselves into a suite when they are going to be the keynote speaker at a huge business event. Because that is part of who they are and what brought them where they are today. They shift their options by not being able to meet with people who condemn their choice to not be dressed like they “should” and they instead only get business meetings with those who tolerate and are open to collaboration beyond the looks of that individual.
Another scenario is, if you have made the decision for yourself that you are not the person who goes and dances in shiny clubs during the weekend, well then you won’t meet the people who dance in shiny clubs during the weekends. Instead you might hangout with those who enjoy going to bed early and workout at 5am the next day.
You notice these are simplified and arbitrary examples but I know you get the idea of authenticity implying that you are willing to shift the options you have in this world.
A few randomly chosen examples of people who I have met that are impressively authentic:
(Include also many of the usual suspect. The reason I’d argue is they starting living authentic which brought many of them to where they are today)
- Gary Vaynerchuk
- The loud mouthed entrepreneur who says himself. His popularity only really exploded once he stopped dialing down his true energetic, swear word using, wrestling and football loving self.
- Oprah Winfrey
- When she started to pursue the direction in her talk show that she truly believed in despite what others were doing and here directors said. That is when she took-off.
- Tony Robbins
- Everything about him is positive authenticity. Find the positive authentic narrative that can catapult you to the next level. You are around Tony Robbins you feel he is truly him. He couldn’t work the way he does if he wasn’t full on authentic.
- Why would you mention and why? Who would your friends mention?
- Go ask them and you will sure end up having an inspiring conversation.
Stop wasting energy on constructing a different you and reallocate that energy to your authentic self. We all are much more fine-tuned to noticing whether someone is truly themselves or not. Others will feel it once you get there. Again, authenticity is the degree to which one has formed an understanding of oneself and is passionately sticking to the discovered personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures.
Being authentic is a luxury
Obviously when you have the chance to transcend from poverty, fear and struggle to a place of safety and comfort by adjusting who you are it is hard to condemn people who do so or prescribe them otherwise. I am saying this because often we speak based on our own maybe lucky circumstances not regarding the reality of life of so many other people.
A Philosopher who says the same thing just aaaa lot more eloquently is Sartre. He has the view that “the state of authenticity, can be so unpleasant that it leads people to inauthentic ways of living.” This is where we get into a critique of society which I most certainly will avoid for now.
This does not mean you should stop being yourself so you can fit in and get that high paying job on Wall Street just because that is what everyone told you would be the best for you. As long as being yourself doesn’t mean minimizing your life options to a state that simply is objectively unacceptable for a human being you might want to consider being true to yourself. Again, I want to say that I do realize I might be speaking from a comfortable place here and might very well be wrong in that idea. What do you think? When is it okay to put your true self aside for a certain benefit?
The Ideal baseline
I do believe that there are certain ideal character trait standards for us as human beings, which overlay your authenticity. Sure be authentic, but let’s remember what that means within the context of a community and environment of other people and things. That you should care for and love other people for example isn’t something you should cast aside because you believe to have discovered your true self to be murderous individuals that hates and is agitated by everyone.
That seems like a reasonable end to me. Don’t be a murderer but instead think and reflect, make up your own mind and then act passionately upon that. And to be honest I’ve simply been sitting with this text for too long now. Life is calling. Go be authentic.
This is my opinion as off the 08/10/2016, remember it might already have changed the day after. Always keep learning.