It is not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are. - Roy Disney
Every day, we perform different roles; we function on performativity -- how to be a daughter, a son, a student, a teacher, an employee, a manager, a friend, a lover and so on. In the midst of these performances, however, it is easy to lose sight of who we really are.
In a world inundated by social media, it has become trendy for individuals to wear different hats to portray whom they want the world to see.
We are, after all, innately exhibitionists and voyeurs. That, along with the fact that everyone else is doing it, makes it normal and acceptable.
What does bother me, though, is when people I know declare and share things to the world that does not reflect who they truly are, but rather, versions of themselves that conform to societal expectations of whom they should be.
Social media is just a microcosm of this problem — if people feel the need to do this on social media, just imagine how they live their everyday lives.
I am an avid believer of living an authentic life. That means staying true to my enduring beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that represent my identity. There have been times, of course, when I have diverged and lived out of alignment with my core values and then there were the moments in my life that left me the unhappiest.
These were the moments when I felt that I had to satisfy somebody else’s desires or needs, but not my own. These were the moments when I did something to prove my worth to someone else, but felt ultimately worthless.
Satisfying that need to look good or impress somebody else or prove your worth can fill you with a definite high, but it is only temporary. The fulfillment will quickly fade because it is inauthentic.
Anything inauthentic will dissipate; lasting happiness occurs when you stay true to your values. Not everyone upholds the same values, but here are 10 key questions I ask myself when I take time to evaluate the progress of my life:
Am I living my life with integrity? Do my actions match the words I speak? Do I mean what I say and do what I mean? Integrity, to me, is well... integral.
With integrity, you know to not turn up late because you understand that you made a commitment to turn up and that other people also depend on you.
2. Hard Work
Have I given every endeavor I pursue my all? Whether that means writing this article or teaching a group of students, did I do my best?
I have a very strong work ethic and I know that when I am doing a job, I must dedicate 100 percent.
Did I do something I was passionate about it or just because I had to do it? When you breathe life into your passion, you don’t have to feel like you are working a day in your life. Live your life more passionately, in all areas.
4. Truth And Honesty
Am I being honest with my reader, and more importantly, honest with myself? I aim for transparency in every area of my life and constantly reflect on whether or not what I am doing are things of which I am proud.
Have I considered the other person's circumstances? The biggest lesson I learned from “To Kill a Mockingbird” was when Atticus says, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
So, before I make any judgment, I take time to understand a person and from where he or she may be coming. I make sure that the words I speak and actions I take serve people with kindness and compassion.
Have I given enough love? Every encounter I have during my day encompasses some level of love. When I love, I love fully, wholeheartedly and unconditionally.
Do I act beautifully in ways beyond the physical? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I am not referring to the physical manifestation of beauty, but rather, the internal one. What good is a pretty face when what’s on the inside is ugly?
Stemming from my understanding of compassion, I always think about whether the words I speak serve a purpose -- are they kind or cruel? I can cover my face with foundation and put on my lipstick to be beautiful, but I need to make sure that what I wear on the inside matches.
Am I acting grounded? No matter how much success you accumulate over time, never forget your roots. Today you may be rich, but tomorrow, you might have nothing. Material is impermanent.
The poor man may not have much money, but he may be wealthier than many. Don't demean others just because they are less fortunate or come from different backgrounds. We're all human. I must question whether or not I act with humility every day.
It takes courage to share your dreams and to believe that you can achieve them. It takes courage to invest in yourself when others around you may or may not support you.
You need courage to make what you believe in happen. Have I taken risks? Have I been bold and brave in my endeavors? Have I invested in myself?
Am I happy? Happiness is not something you must chase or can only achieve once you “get there.” Happiness is attainable here and now when you live your life in alignment with your core values.
When you are happy, it radiates from you and you spread happiness to those who surround you.
Your values may be similar or different to mine, but nonetheless, they are still paramount. It could be about giving more and being less selfish, or it could be about being there for your family and friends.
Whatever your personal core values are, I encourage you to figure them out to be on par to living an authentic life that reflects the wonderful reality of who you are.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It