Living an Authentic Life

by Chrysula on September 10, 2009 in finding,work life balance

Recently some friends invited me to get in shape and lose a few pounds with them. The stipulation? I had to commit to track and email a list at the end of each day of every morsel of food placed in my mouth. Amazing how a goal crystallizes when someone is holding you accountable and expecting full honesty. My dear friend Emily Orton put it this way, “Why does knowing someone else cares motivate us to take care of ourselves?”

There is something deeply empowering in the public statement of a goal. The desire for achievement is one thing. The declaration of it, entirely another. It is a proven and tested approach for me. Not necessarily to announce to the entire planet, but verbally or in writing, announce even to ourselves, a trusted someone or even a stranger – “I’m working on this thing – here’s what I’ve committed to do to make it happen”.

Accountability for our choices and behavior is inherent in values based living. What is important to us drives those decisions and actions. If it doesn’t, then we have a disconnect. Human beings aren’t built to live in a values/behavior conflict. My observation has been that when values and behavior are out of sync, one of those has to change. Typically I’ve seen that it is a person’s values that get swept away – on the surface the easier path.

Not living true to your core however, extracts its price. Health, relationships: there are many places in life for your anguish to show up. Craving Balance writer, Lisa Gates just wrote on this – a touching, tragic and ultimately healing tale of a life coming full circle.

I think my favorite word in the English language is “authentic”. When I make a connection that feels honest and pure to its very essence, I am so grateful. The reason I married my husband was primarily because it was the first relationship I had ever been in where I felt every facet of who I am could be expressed without judgment, repression or recrimination. On the contrary, I felt celebrated in every respect. Vulnerability and kick-butt strength could co-exist without threatening one iota of this man’s sense of self. The gift of authenticity is a gift he continues to offer daily. It is a gift we deserve to give to each other, and more fundamentally, to ourselves.

A true seeker of balance, has to decide what they value. And in some way, declare those values. A critical add-on is to find a confidant and regularly return and report on what you are doing to live an integrated life.

Do you have someone that could be? Perhaps you could you start a journal? Is there something you feel you should really do with your life, thoughts you may have had before and dismissed? Paraphrasing Stephen Covey “What’s the one thing you’re not doing right now that you know would change your life? Why aren’t you doing it?”

What does your authentic life look life? Would you comment so I can hear your thoughts? I would love you to share, follow and link to this blog.

Note: Photo of my Mother circa 1965. What was she thinking then? What was important to her? Did her life play out as she dreamed back then? I am going to ask her.


Lisa Gates September 11, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Chrysula, thanks so much for the link and the appreciation. It's curious: now that my son is in 7th grade, it's really evident that values, authenticity, pupose, and passion are completely missing from education as a whole. It's no wonder we adults have a hard time finding our callings and deciphering who we are. It's been educated out of us.

So, we are where we are, right here and now, and I wholeheartedly agree that we need to turn on our accountability to another to hold each other to our highest good.


Emily Orton September 11, 2009 at 6:35 pm

Why aren't we doing it?
Zig Ziglar tells the parable of the flat biscuits. The baker says they was squatting to rise, but got cooked in the squat.

Drowning in the information deluge, I often default to inaction while constantly gathering information. I have values, purpose and passion. I just get cooked in the squat. Accountability is the answer.

Whitney Johnson September 11, 2009 at 9:04 pm

Our children just started at a new school. My son has said on several occasion, "the school is so strict." What's interesting is that even as he carps, we think he likes the structure, the accountability as you say.

Interestingly, over the past couple of weeks, I've mentioned to a few people some of my medium-term goals. It was hard to figure out what they were, and to say them out loud. At the moment when I felt a little vulnerable, even awkward, I think I knew I was getting closer.

Thanks for your post.

Robin Dickinson September 12, 2009 at 5:05 am

Hi Chrysula,

Yes, I agree with the declaration of values – both in words AND in actions.

Too many times I've worked with people who could easily articulate their values, but it just didn't seem to manifest in their behaviours.

In this case, I think people are 'test driving' values. Checking them out. Seeing what they sound like.

Authenticity is a child of our integrity – only when who we are harmonizes with what we do i.e. our words and actions dance as one, can we leave our unique, beautiful and authentic mark in the hearts of others.

Best to you, Robin

Chrysula Winegar September 13, 2009 at 12:10 am

Lisa, I am so curious as to how we've educated ourselves out of authenticity and more importantly how we educate ourselves back in. I am excited we have connected and am looking forward to brainstorming more on this with you.

Emily, why indeed?! It's so simple, so perfect. Accountability IS the answer to much of what stops us from implementing and executing our dreams. Although painting your faces blue and sacking Rome for the first day of school shows me you already are implementing and executing in a big way.

Whitney, I love that description – vulnerable, awkward, meant you were getting closer. Why is that? I feel the same way. Is it as if we are giving a piece of ourselves up in order to stretch to the next stage?

Robin, I am delighted by your definition of authenticity, and words and actions dancing as one. These images are powerful and resonate. Cliche alert, but it's the walking of the talk, pure and simple. There's just no getting around it. We mess up constantly, but those core values are the compass and we pick up, dust off and get back at it in our search for an integrated life.

Thank you all. It's a joy to have your thoughts here. And an honor.

Michelle Walker September 15, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Authenticity cannot be achieved without introspection. We have to really know ourselves to be able to change. We have to be able to own the good the bad and the ugly. I may not the prettiest on the inside–but I KNOW what it looks like in there! :)

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