Will the Real You Please Stand Up!

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I just finished reading The Great Work of Your Life by Stephen Cope. In it, the author uses the lessons of The Bhagavad Gita to explain the concept of dharma in our modern life. Dharma is our vocation or calling and it gives us a “blue print” to build our life. He quotes Henry David Thoreau,

One should be always on the trail of one’s own deepest nature. For it is the fearless living out of your own essential nature that connects you to the Divine.

Finding and then embracing our calling helps bring us to our true self. When I think of vocation, I think of “doing.” In the discussion of dharma, it really goes far deeper. We’re not talking about just our career but our true sense of who we are; being authentic.

Talking about authenticity and being true to ourselves reminds me of another author. I’ve mentioned Brené Brown in the past. In her works, she points to authenticity as a cornerstone of wholehearted living. Authenticity is about being the real you and not just trying to “fit in.” When you’re fitting in, all of your energy goes into being what you think others expect of you so you’ll be accepted. To have a real sense of belonging, you have to be your authentic self. You need to be accepted for who you truly are, scratches and all, and this also requires being self-accepting.

It seems like we’re always comparing ourselves to others. Someone has a nicer house or car, a better job title and bigger paycheck or looks better at the gym. We not only want to be just like them; we want to be just a little bit better. Our culture also has some expectations of us. Men, for example, should control their emotions, be productive and financially successful and take control. If you’re always doing what you think others expect of you, this can lead to a life of diminished feelings, a constant pursuit of financial and professional stature over everything else and few meaningful connections. It takes courage to let go of what others think and do what’s right for you. However, you only get one life.

How does this all tie together? To live your most fulfilling life, you need to simply be the real you. A big part of that is figuring out why you’re on this planet. Will following your bliss lead you to your true self or will being you lead you to the correct path in life? The answer is “yes.”

How can you lead your ideal life over one that someone else has created for you?

Photo credit: assbach / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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