Saturday, 30 January 2016

Am I Authentic Yet? | Be Authentic

“Most people are other people, their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” 

– Oscar Wilde. 
January is always a bit of a strange month. It takes a while to get into the post-Christmas routine. Less shopping, less spending, and less socialising. If we’re lucky, it takes slightly longer to break our first News Years Resolution.

But this January has been a bit different for me. Capitalising on the post-Christmas quiet, I launched my Romeo Project at the very end of December. And then I got completely swept up in my first resolution; Be Authentic.

By 30th December I had compiled a to-do list for the month ahead;

  • Create a Vision Board.
  • Create a Life Handbook with values, goals and a mission statement.
  • Read XYZ self-help books.
  • Stop being inauthentic.
  • Write a list of what makes me smile.
  • Define Authentic Happiness.

As I looked at all I needed to do to Be Authentic I figured I had bitten off more than I could chew. Why couldn’t I have started the project off with an easier resolution? Why couldn’t I just have decided January was for sleeping?

But I’d put in too many months of pre-planning to abandon my authenticity challenge.

I was quick to learn that Authenticity is not the easiest concept to just adopt. Instead, it can only be achieved by taking small steps – like defining my values, my goals and my mission statement.
It’s also important to stop being inauthentic. The month involved developing a lot of self-awareness. And I learned that I wasn’t always being me; I often hid behind a formal exterior and wasn’t open or always personable with those around me.

Creating a Life Handbook was a much bigger task than I had expected. It took me a solid week of planning and prep after work to develop.

The highlight of the month was defining my values. It feels empowering to know what I believe in and stand for, and I know I can embody them every day.

But Am I Authentic yet? 
I have definitely started being more open and honest with those around me – sharing little tidbits and reflecting my personality in conversation. I have felt determined to not let my social anxiety win.

I feel like I have a better understanding of who I am; my qualities and my strengths. And I know what direction I want to head in over the next few years; my hopes, dreams and ambitions.
But more than that I understand that living an authentic life is a process. It’s about how we live every day, not just for one month.

Most helpful self-help books for ‘Be Authentic’?
I would recommend Michelle Ward and Jessica Swift’s 'The Declaration of You', it’s all about finding yourself and shouting your interests from the rooftops.
Obviously I based a lot of my month around creating a Life Handbook – check out Personal Excellence for more on that.
For more about Authentic Happiness, read up on Martin EP Seligman’s book of the same name.

Read all The Romeo Project posts so far here.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Authenticity and Mental Health

Why Authenticity matters in Mental Health

When I started The Romeo Project on the last few days of December, I stated that I wanted to create a self-improvement project that worked for me, someone with a mental illness.
But what exactly does my resolution to ‘Be Authentic’ have to do with mental health?

Sometimes I think my depression and anxiety make me inauthentic. When I’m depressed, I’m not me. I feel like a completely different person.

Could it be that mental illness stops us from being authentic?

Case #1: I love reading books; it’s probably my number one hobby.
 But when I’m down I can’t even finish reading a paragraph. Before I was diagnosed with depression I struggled in school, in college, and just reading for fun. I had zero concentration to get any task done.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Inauthentic Moments

Stamping out inauthenticity

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

In my first introductory post on this topic I discussed how we can truly Be Authentic.

My research suggests trying to Be Authentic can often impede our authenticity. Confusing, right?

But there’s one way we can truly be our authentic selves, and that’s to stop being inauthentic.

So since January began I’ve been trying to spot my inauthentic moments and take note of them. By doing this I hope to recognise inauthenticity and root it out; and change my behaviour in the long term.

How do we do this?
Inauthenticity is when you're being your true self. When something feels fake or forced, we are often being inauthentic.
For example, I’ve told you about the time I tried to be a beauty blogger. My posts were awful, and I wasn’t being true to my real passions. It's probably been my biggest inauthentic moment of the past year. But this month, I've been looking at my other smaller inauthentic moments.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Creating a Mission Statement

Regular readers of my blog will know that I’ve just created a Life Handbook. However, I ran into a bit of a road block – What on earth was my mission statement?

Well, Personal Excellence describe it as a life purpose. So all I had to do was define my very purpose for existence! Shesh, not hard at all.
But why do we even need one?

“As long as you wish to live a more meaningful and conscious life, a life purpose is for you.” - Source 

Oh right, that’s why. So I decided to persevere and come up with my own life purpose. It didn’t matter if it was pretty lame, or that I ended up hating it a few months down the line. I really felt I just needed one so I could tick that item off of my Be Authentic to-do list.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Seeking Authentic Happiness

What is authentic happiness?

The concept of happiness is such an indeterminate one that even though everyone wishes to attain happiness, yet he can never say definitely and consistently what it is that he really wishes and wills. – Immanuel Kant

As it is the beginning of my Romeo Project and the month of Be Authentic, I wanted to explore authentic happiness.

Little did you know mere mortal, there is a difference between happiness, and genuine real authentic happiness. At least according to all these writers who make their money off of selling the secret to real happiness.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Things That Always Make Me Smile

When it comes to authenticity I think it’s hard to fake a smile.

When you smile, genuinely smile because something makes you feel good, that’s authentic.

Here is a list of the things that never fail to make me smile;

  • Making my Dad laugh
  • Giving a nerdy present to my little sister
  • My dog licking my hand after I’ve been petting her
  • When someone remembers a small and almost insignificant detail I told them
  • When someone offers to pay for the coffee/tea I just ordered
  • When you do a little favour for someone without them having to ask
  • Getting a compliment
  • When my Dad calls me on the phone
  • A supportive blog comment
  • Getting to treat a friend
  • A warm, calming cup of tea after a long day

Interestingly, I see my values in this list. This also made me smile.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Creating a Life Handbook

My Life Handbook
A big part of my Be Authentic month is creating a Life Handbook. It sounds cheesy, I know, but hear me out first.

I got the idea of starting my own Life Handbook from Personal Excellence. The website is basically a self-help blog encouraging and helping readers to reach their potential.

On the site, Celes discusses a Life Handbook and how creating such a book can guide you along the way to living the best possible life.

“A life handbook is your guidebook to live your best life, consisting of everything from your life purpose, to life adages, to long-term goals, to short-term goals, to action plans to realize said goals. Just like the Bible reflects the doctrine and creed of Christianity, your life handbook reflects the essence of what it means to be you and what it takes to live your best life. Think of it as your GPS for life.”
A GPS for life. Amazing.

I was sold, so I decided that I should create one to help me Be Authentic.

Monday, 11 January 2016

My Values | Be Authentic

As followers of The Romeo Project already know, the month of January is all about my resolution to Be Authentic.
It’s about being true to myself; my like, my passion, my dislikes. And my values.

Values are the things that empower, motivate and excite you. They are what you stand for. How you want to live your life.

Now I’m trying to figure out what my values are. But how do we actually discover our values?

I started with a simple list of things I admire – honesty, being grateful, being polite, and empathy.

Mike Jaffe, 'Wake Up Your Life is Calling'
Then I took a look at Mike Jaffe’s book ‘Wake Up Your Life is Calling’.

Jaffe’s book contains a list of values to help you find the qualities that fit you (see Defining Your Core Values - Part I). The list isn't conclusive, and Jaffe highlights that you may come up with other values not on the list.
I figured I could link some of my values with some of his;

  • My honesty was his truth.
  • My empathy was his compassion, kindness and caring.

I also loved that authenticity was listed as a value. Seen as my month was all about 'Be Authentic', I would like to someday say authenticity is a value of mine. But for now, it didn't quite fit.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Be Authentic: Intro

“He tried to keep on the right side of power, tried to be loyal to so many things that he himself couldn’t tell which one of his selves was the authentic, if any.” 
– Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss

Authenticity can be a meaningless cliché.

Out of my list of resolutions, Be Authentic is probably the one that most seems like I’m regurgitating a typical self-help phrase.

For something supposedly about being real and genuine, the phrase often feels more precocious than a representation of reality.

I’ve often associated authenticity with identity. It's about who we are and what we stand for. About letting the real you shine through. To live your life authentically, you stay true to yourself.

But who I am has changed dramatically over the years.
Sure I was once a red-haired, lip pierced girl. But I don’t mean that I have just changed physically. My likes, my values and my beliefs have changed too.

Monday, 4 January 2016

What's a Life Redesign?

“Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.”
Charles Eames
I first heard the term ‘life redesign’ while reading an article on The Guardian. I was searching for articles on happiness, and I stumbled upon this Happiness by Design piece.

Katie McCroy wrote about how she decided her life was in need of a significant change. So, she moved from London to Copenhagen, the so-called happiest city in the world. She titles the article ‘How to design your life for happiness’.

Rather than focusing on one thing in your life – like happiness – a redesign looks at whole areas and your whole life, and how changing these areas or aspects can in the end increase your happiness.  For McCroy, that was moving out of the UK and starting her life over in Copenhagen.

Denmark is purportedly the happiest country in the world. The majority of the population cite social equality as the most important indicator of happiness in the country, but this didn’t happen by accident. An equal society was designed and built.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

What's All This About Happiness?

The world is obsessed with attaining happiness. It’s become an over-hyped and commodifiable concept. Countless self-help books claim they can help you achieve it. But it always seems out of our reach.

But why are we so determined to have it?

And when did the search for fulfilling happiness begin?

The Pursuit of Happiness
“The pursuit of human happiness, it would seem, has been with us from the start.” 
Darrin M McMahon

Well, the search for happiness has been ongoing throughout history. In Greek Tragedies happiness was in the hands of chance, or with the gods. Not something achievable by our own hands. It wasn’t until Socrates insisted that happiness lies within our own reach that humans finally began to think
that they were responsible for their own fate.