We all like to live an authentic life, but how many of us know what does authentic life really means? Being authentic doesn’t mean you don’t conform to the accepted social standard. It means you have to be true to yourself and accept the inner you. A person who is authentic never succumbs to peer pressure and will be straightforward with his/her thoughts or actions.
To be more elaborate, it means that you embrace your originality and most of your life’s actions would be a mere reflection of the core values you believe in. An authentic life is more of a fluid concept. There is no standard definition for authentic life as it varies from person to person, meaning that it is a subjective process because each person has different beliefs and values.
Research studies show that human beings tend to believe that they are living an authentic life as they get older and may expect a change at some point in the future, they call it as “end of history illusion”. What we perceived to be the truth may change over a period of time.
As easy as authentic life sounds, there are also confusions related to leading an authentic life. Many people believe that they are leading an authentic life, which is not the case if we look deeper into their lives.
As a child, we didn’t know the standards, values, and expectations of a system we live in, so we did what we want and managed with it. When we became an adult, unconsciously we start doing the things we were taught by our society.
For example, if you are a well-educated person and you have a good stable career. But, you got so bored with your career that you want to quit your job and you want to start a music band, not many would accept your passion. They may openly critique you and that peer pressure alone, could prevent you from quitting your monotonous job, where you feel you don’t quite belong.
It is not only what others say, you have also been taught that starting a music band without any backup is not a good idea and therefore you yourself would have categorized your desire as “unconventional desire”. If you are authentic, you would acknowledge your passion and would start that music band.
Characteristic of Inauthenticity
Let us look at some characteristics of inauthenticity. The first and foremost is you become an adjustable type. The more you yield to an established societal structure, the more you become distant from your real self and would start justifying all your actions.
Secondly, there’s no real joy in your life. Your life becomes meaningless inwardly while you pretend to be happy on the outside.
Thirdly, you would start losing the purpose of your life by giving up on what you have always wanted to do. And that would lead to a lot of unpleasant experiences. You can’t even acknowledge such emotions because you simply lose the desire to do so.
From the above points, you would understand the characteristics of in-authenticity. Now, take a moment and check within yourself, if there are any traces of inauthenticity in your life.
If there is, it is never too late, you could withdraw yourself from old beliefs and start afresh. You can start living your life without any regrets.
How to Lead an Authentic Life
The most renowned psychologist Carl Jung once said: “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are”. Another psychologist Jean-Paul Sartre also believed in leading authentic life.
Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialism theory propagates the idea that people are responsible for their actions which make them who they are. This theory is not new, it was initially developed by a Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, who firmly believed in the idea that individual has to find the meaning of their life and live it “passionately and sincerely”.
His thought was deeply supported by the concept of authenticity. Because if you are not authentic with yourself, your life would be meaningless. These philosophical theories explore the meaning of your existence itself.
Now, let us see how to lead an authentic life? First is you should live in the present. If you are leading an authentic life, you would just breathe and live in the present. Secondly, you embrace the mistakes you make. Being authentic is not easy, because you choose to stay out of the crowd and be yourself.
Chances are that you may come across many different consequences as a result of your actions. You may even be carped at sometimes, but that shouldn’t bother you a bit. You know life happens and learning is an integral part of life.
When you are living a straightforward authentic life, sometimes people might be unkind to you, that’s because you chose not to conform to their standards.
When you face these kinds of situations, You have to see their character from eagle’s point of view and then you would be more understanding.
At that point, you would feel that it is important to show your kinder self rather than proving the other person what is right or what is wrong.
Next point is that you should see everything from a broader perspective. At this point, you are out of the system so there is no border for you to limit yourself in. Now, you should not judge someone based on their actions.
Try to accept people for who they are. You may not be accepted by your colleagues for your straightforward actions, but you have to move on leading your life true to your heart.
Many people just want to get their thoughts out but never listen to what others have to say. That leads to a lot of misunderstandings among people.
So, you must be a good listener, then only you can understand the root cause of the problem. In some cases you can trust your intuition. Many times, your intuition can provide an answer to your problems.
People may try to confuse you with solutions of their own, but you must understand that it comes from what they believe in. So, you can go ahead with your intuition and do what you feel is right for the situation.
Last but not least, leading an authentic life might lead you to lose your interest in building material wealth. But, this kind of life would help you focus on building deeper relationships with people.
The major fear of people who want to be authentic is that they are afraid of others mistaking their authenticity for vulnerability.
If you are someone who want to lead an authentic life, but if your fear prevents you, need not worry. The journey may be difficult at first, but as you progress things get easier and clearer and you would never want to go back to the person you were.
As Existential philosophers mention, life is not just about being authentic, it is about finding the meaning of your life. So what is life without taking any risks? Gear up and start leading an authentic life and find the purpose and meaning of your life.