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5 Ways to Find Your Authentic Self

5 Ways to Find Your Authentic Self

5 Ways to Find Your Authentic Self
Alexandra Harra

Of all the battles we will fight in life, perhaps our greatest war will be with ourselves as we search for our self.

After all, how are we to hear our own inner song in the swarm of everyday noise? Is our individual voice the one we listen to on the morning news or scroll through in social media sites? Is it the lessons we’re taught in a classroom or the opinions of our family and friends? No; our real voice whispers from within.

To a certain degree, it’s normal to abide by the dictates of others. Much of what we think, say, do, eat, even wear is influenced by external factors. But the clamor of the outside world can easily drown out the melody of our soul, that little voice guiding us down our divine path and reminding us of our highest purpose. How often do we delve within to rescue the rare treasure that is our authentic self?

Act on these five ways to rediscover the genuine you and expand the spectrum of your identity:

Build your life work. Your original self emerges when you work from the seat of your soul, carefully crafting what you love. Pinpoint your vocation, your life’s calling, and begin to build on it. Ask yourself, “How may I serve?” Your goal may be to make money and own an empire, but your mission should always be grounded in a greater purpose of serving others. I, for one, love to model as a hobby but I understand this isn’t necessarily my calling. I’m showing another pretty face to the world, and there are plenty already. But when I write, on the other hand, my spirit is suddenly stirred. Writing awakens my vocation; if my words can uplift just one reader, I feel fulfilled. Work that is bred in the heart, formed from a deep need to help others, is your legacy and will remain long after your physical presence has expired.

Roam within yourself. There exist endless compartments to your being. You are a multifaceted person with individual likes, dislikes, and tendencies. Get to know them all. There are no good or bad elements to your self; you just are. Granted, it’s much easier to shy away from darkness that you encounter within you than to embrace it. But when you become familiar with your every aspect, you can eliminate the fear, the haunting memories, negative impressions, and bad habits. Then, you can begin to operate on your higher self and allow the light within to beam forth. Interview yourself; ask yourself honest questions as if you were examining a person you just met. Know, too, how you have changed and in which direction you are evolving. To acknowledge the totality of your being is your most powerful tool towards progress.

Match your public and private personas. When I was in highschool, I displayed a rough, tough, bad-girl facade while on the inside dwelt a shy, timid, and meek young woman. I didn’t yet comprehend that who I was on the inside should match what I showed to the world. I thought I could be “better” on the outside than what I felt on the inside. Then I realized that I was best by matching my interior to my exterior, and I allowed my humble nature to overtake that senseless rebel I pretended to be. You also must evaluate whether your two sides run parallel, and should always mold your public self after your private self.

Know Spirit. Our true nature was divinely inspired–breathed into us by the universe as a wind kindles fire. The divine world gifted you with your incredible, unique way of being. To seek Spirit is to seek the purest version of you. This is not to say you have to abide by one religion; on the contrary, spirituality is detached from the strict mandates of religious teachings. It is simply recognizing the interconnectedness of all things and acknowledging a greater force that is everlasting and ever-loving. When you live in faith you live in the reassurance that you are always protected and guided, and never alone on your journey. Faith encourages your real self to thrive.

Establish your truths. We all have a code that sets up our individuality. You may believe in loyalty above all while I may believe in morality above all. You may value work first while your neighbor may value family first. Whatever your beliefs, they are the foundation of your genuine self. Set up your personal commandments and live by them. Understand what particular principles drive you forward and discern the elements that make you act in a certain way. What you believe defines who you are. So what’s true to you?

Influences from the outside world can easily nudge us away from our authentic being. But if we dig through our sophisticated, inner layers, we can unearth our truest self and allow it to guide us graciously through every one of life’s twists and turns.

To your authentic self,

Alexandra Harra

35 Lessons Learned So Far on This Journey Called Life

35 Lessons Learned So Far on This Journey Called Life

35 Lessons Learned So Far on This Journey Called Life
Jasmine Brett Stringer

If 50 is the “new 30” and 40 is the “new 20,” I’m not sure where I fit on the age spectrum, but as I mark the beginning of my personal new yaer I took some time to reflect on a few lessons that I’ve learned along the way. I’ve gleaned these nuggets through picking myself up after I’ve fallen; reading countless self-help books; watching TV and Oprah; and by listening to my magnificent mom. One thing is for sure, if you’re lucky, with age comes wisdom, confidence and empowerment.

1. Humans are a lot more alike than we are different. We all want to be loved, valued, and appreciated.

2. There’s something special to be said about anticipation. Even in the present it’s nice to have something to look forward to. So live in the moment, but have something in your back pocket.

3. Life can change in the blink of an eye (for the good or bad) so Carpe Diem.

4. We all need a good cry from time to time.

5. You can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends… good friends really do make the world a better place.

6. People come into your life for a reason, season or lifetime.

7. “What do you do?” I’m not sure why that’s one of the top three questions people ask each other after being introduced. We are so much more than “what we do.”

8. All families have some type of dysfunction, drama or “that” relative so there’s no need to be embarrassed or ashamed of your family.

9. Just because a person is your friend it doesn’t mean you should travel with them. You can’t travel with everyone.

10. When you move in gratitude the realization of what you have to be thankful for is simply amazing and the experiences, people and things you have to be thankful for multiply.

11. There will be crises… identity crises, the quarter life crisis, the everyone’s getting married but me crisis, the my husband doesn’t understand or appreciate me crisis, the midlife crisis. All crisis are temporary and when put into perspective really first world problems. This too shall pass!

12. The world is small… it use to be six degrees of separation — now I think there about two degrees separating us from each other. It’s astonishing how connected the world is.

13. There’s something special about home, where and whatever you consider to be home. Home will and should always hold a special place in your heart.

14. Like Outkast said in their song, Sorry Mrs. Jackson there is a forever, forever ever, forever ever. Some things last an eternity, like trying to maintain a healthy weight. It’s a forever lifestyle change when you’re an emotional eater and yo-yo dieter like me.

15. Time really does heal all wounds.

16. It’s important to have healthy boundaries in your relationships and you have to teach people how to treat you.

17. Yes, there are people you will never like and people that will never like you and it’s okay.

18. Every woman needs at least one good girlfriend. Those they say they don’t are lying!

19. Opposites attract. Find friends with complementary skills.

20. Youth really is wasted on the young.

21. A broken heart hurts like hell. The pain comes from the dream and plans that are to be unfulfilled or deferred.

22. We get to reinvent ourselves. The person you were in high school is not the person you are today, thank God, and the career you have today doesn’t necessarily have to be the career you have for your entire life.

23. Like the caterpillar becomes a butterfly, if we are blessed, we evolve into our truest and best selves. (Sometimes it is not a pretty process.)

24. To be a friend you don’t have to talk every day or even once a month… a real friendship can survive the curves, detours, distance and time called life.

25. In the great debate of nature vs. nurture. Nurture gets my vote.

26. The power of laughter… there’s healing, release, tears, happiness and joy.

27. Fresh flowers are good for spirit… simple, beautiful and fragrant.

28. A bubble bath, hot shower, scented candle, nap or glass of wine can work wonders!

29. We have to learn to forgive ourselves for past mistakes, regrets and hurts because today is a fresh start with new opportunities.

30. Things may not go as planned but all things work as they should.

31. Some call it surrender. Sometimes you have to let things unfold or as they say… let it do what it do.

32. It’s a big, huge and exciting world… travel, visit and explore.

33. Time and chance happen to us all… the key is being prepared when your chance comes.

34. Our parents fibbed. Words do and can hurt, so use them carefully.

35. God, The Universe, The Creator, whomever your higher power is, is so good! Here’s to unexpected, undeserved mercy and grace…”AMAZING GRACE how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”

Real Love Is a Choice

Real Love Is a Choice

Forget About Feelings, Real Love Is A Deliberate Choice
Seth Adam Smith
My wife and I have known each other since high school, but didn’t date until much later. We had only dated a couple of weeks before we realized that we were madly in love and wanted to get married.

I was all for it! I even suggested a spontaneous, immediate wedding in Vegas. (Seriously.) Kim, however, was a bit more practical about the whole thing. She wanted to take time to plan it all out.

I felt deflated. “We’re so different,” I said. “You like to plan, while I like to be spontaneous.”

Kim’s eyes widened. “I can be spontaneous!” she said, hurriedly. “I can totally be spontaneous. You just have to tell me in advance when you want to be spontaneous, and I will write it down in my planner…”

I gave her a strange look. She was totally serious! Clearly, Kim did not understand the meaning of spontaneity.

Funny as it may seem, the more I think about this conversation the more I’ve come to realize that planning to love someone–or choosing to love someone–is actually one of the most beautiful things about love.

I’ve heard it said that real love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.

It’s true.

When all the butterflies have fluttered away and your wedding day becomes a distant memory, you will discover that you’ve married someone who is just as imperfect as you. And they, in turn, will come to learn that you have problems, insecurities, struggles, quirks–and body odor–just as real as theirs!

Then you will realize that real love isn’t just a euphoric, spontaneous feeling–it’s a deliberate choice–a plan to love each other for better and worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health. Of course, you don’t choose who you’re attracted to, but you definitely choose who you fall in love with and (more importantly) who you stay in love with.

Our society places a lot of emphasis on feelings. We are taught that we should always follow our feelings and do whatever makes us happy. But feelings are very fickle and fleeting. Real love, on the other hand, is like the north star in the storms of life; it is constant, sure, and true. Whenever we’re lost and confused we can find strength in the love that we have chosen.

Besides, life already offers us plenty of spontaneity: rejection, job loss, heartache, disappointment, despair, illness, and a host of other problems. We simply can’t abandon ship every time we encounter a storm in our marriage. Real love is about weathering the storms of life together.

When my grandma was in her fifties, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease that disrupts the body’s ability to communicate with its nervous system. Within a few short years, Grandma had lost the ability to walk and was confined to a wheelchair. Grandpa, who was then the chief of police, retired two years earlier than planned in order to take care of Grandma. He helped her do everything–from getting around the house and visiting the doctor, to helping her take her medicine and bathe.

In speaking about my grandma, Grandpa once told my mom, “It hurts me to see her like this. You know, when I got married I thought that everything would be smooth sailing. I never imagined that I would have to help her change her catheter every day. But I do it and I don’t mind it–because I love her.”

Love is so much more than some random, euphoric feeling. And real love isn’t always fluffy, cute, and cuddly. More often than not, real love has its sleeves rolled up, dirt and grime smeared on its arms, and sweat dripping down its forehead. Real love asks us to do hard things–to forgive one another, to support each other’s dreams, to comfort in times of grief, or to care for family. Real love isn’t easy–and it’s nothing like the wedding day–but it’s far more meaningful and wonderful.

I recently came across this wonderful quote: “No one falls in love by choice, it is by chance. No one stays in love by chance, it is by work. And no one falls out of love by chance, it is by choice.”

Whenever my wife and I run into a problem in our marriage we do our best to choose love. While we’re certainly not perfect, the love we share today is more real and more wonderful than anything we had ever anticipated.

So, whatever spontaneous storm may come our way I plan on loving my wife.

If you truly love someone (and they truly love you), commit to that love and plan on it being hard work.

But also plan on it being the most rewarding work of your life.

This article was originally published on