Ronald Haines, Author

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Tag: authentic

Something is Wrong, Happiness is a Choice

Something is wrong with the way people are living their lives:
  • When the most common regret of dying people is that they didn’t live their lives being true to themselves, and instead did what others expected of them.
  • When people suppress their feelings in order to keep peace with others and settle for a mediocre existence, never becoming the person they are capable of being.

    something is wrong

    something is wrong

  • When fear of change causes people to pretend to others and to themselves that they are content, when deep within they long to laugh and have the silliness of childhood back in their lives.
  • When a third (32%) of Americans admit that they regret many of the major life decisions they have made and wish they had taken more risks when making those decisions.
  • When asked to design their ideal life, half (49%) of Americans respond that they would like to live a life unique to their own interests instead of following a traditional path.
  • When people do not realize that happiness is a choice they can make by breaking free of the comfort of the familiar and the established.

Do not wait for the clarity of impending death before you realize that something is wrong in your own life when you can gain that clarity now, and live a life filled with happiness and personal satisfaction. Follow my blog at the existentialhumanism.com website and also sign up for your FREE pre-release copy of my upcoming book about how to live an authentic life.

For more information about some of the source material for this subject, click below:

Allianz Life commissioned a study which was released in May, 2016 called One-Third of Americans Regret Major Life Choices, But Many Embrace Newfound Opportunity to “Rechart” Course.

The Guardian posted a story in February, 2012 about the Top Five Regrets of The Dying.

Who You Are and What You Do

Who you are as an individual is so often not top of mind in day to day life. You need to be in the world to earn money to cover life’s expenses, and the occupation you perform defines you to the world around you.  You have been objectified, but chances are very good that you have also allowed that objectification to influence how you view yourself.  So much so that you may have even come to associate who you are with your occupation.  But what you do is simply a means to an end, it is not who you are.

Acceptance of being objectified starts early in life with virtually every parent quite innocently asking their children the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The answers generally come back as an occupation such as a doctor or an astronaut, but that isn’t really the correct answer.  The correct answer to that question should be, “Me.”  The parent asked the wrong question.  Instead, what they should be asking is, “What do you want to do when you grow up?

Who you are is your authentic self, defined by you, but hidden from others in the world. You may not be consciously aware of it, but the products of your occupation are very likely tied to who you are.  After necessary expenses you tend to spend your disposable income on things that satisfy you or make you happy.  Since you derive benefits from the way you spend the money you earn, examining what those benefits are may help you to connect with your authentic self.  Once you break who you are away from what you do, you can set goals that will provide you with true satisfaction in your life.

Goals

Goals should not be considered in light of external things but in terms of the benefit that those things give you.  For instance, you may want to be (or already are) a lawyer. The benefit might be the intellectual challenge it provides or the satisfaction you gain through helping others.  Yes, there is the income to consider, but money itself is never a goal, it is simply the intermediary means of exchange between what you do and what you desire.  If you really think money should be a goal for you then look to the story of King Midas.

Drill down to find out what motivates you and what you really want in life. Think about lifestyle and how you would like to feel every day.   What does the money you earn do for you?  Perhaps it enables you to take a vacation, two weeks of bliss on the beach.  If while there you find you are truly happy and begin to dream of spending every day on the beach, you may have discovered a true goal for your authentic self.

Action Plan

Using the benefit of being happy by spending every day on the beach as your goal, for example, you can then develop a process to take you there. This is called an action plan is simply a series of sequential steps to follow.

You first identify how much money you would need to live on if you spent every day on the beach, and then determine how to earn it. Maybe being a lawyer is a good idea in this regard because it can bring in a lot of money, so being a lawyer becomes an action that will help you to achieve your goal.  The key here is that being a lawyer is no longer the goal, but simply a part of the process.  By staying focused on your goal you forgo frivolous purchases and willingly set aside the majority of the disposable income you make towards reaching it.

So you play the role of a lawyer, the world objectifies you as a lawyer, but you remain authentic by recognizing that this is what you need to do in order to be able to spend your life on the beach.  You feel wonderful every day knowing you are on the journey to the accomplishment of your goal.

What you do is not who you are.

Relationships with Others without Frustration

While recognizing that relationships with other people are going to essentially produce conflict and frustration, we must also consider how they are nevertheless important to us. Certainly the strongest relationships come about where each participant wholeheartedly throws themselves into the relationship, but while doing it is still important to retain one’s own sense of self.  By allowing each other the freedom to pursue their own goals and interests, relationships can be of tremendous benefit to both parties and can actually add more meaning to our lives.

Unfortunately, people too often use relationships with others as an escape from the world. According to Simone de Beauvoir, the feeling of security may be comforting, but it can become a problem when people make the relationship the only source of meaning in their lives.  Instead, she advised people not to become so dependent on one another that they can’t exist without each other. Relationships are much more interesting, and stronger, if the participants also enjoy the diversity of their own independent goals.  In this way they are free to focus their energies on continuing to develop their authentic selves while also supporting each other’s goals, instead of holding each other down with petty power games.  Relationships can have so much more to them if the participants are both strong-willed individuals and good friends.

Unfortunately, there is a common theme in western culture around the idea of finding what is referred to as a soulmate; that somehow there are people in the world who were “made for each other” and destined to be together. Since individuals are free and must therefore define themselves (that existence precedes essence is key to existential thinking), there can obviously be no such things as soulmates.  Not only is this a useless romantic illusion, it is also dangerous.  de Beauvoir argued that a belief in soulmateship seduces lovers into turning away from their own authentic goals for the sake of the relationship.  Buying into the soulmate delusion is almost a guarantee of future frustration with the relationship.

Successful lovers are first and foremost individuals who take responsibility for creating their own lives and do not become reliant on a relationship with another person to be their meaning in life.  The best kind of relationship, one without frustration, is one where the participants respect each other’s freedom and support each other’s working towards whatever goals they choose, even if it means pursuing goals that may ultimately pull them in different directions.

Eliminating Stress by Being Authentic

Most people close to me know that I’ve always been an existentialist, and the current non-fiction book I am working on deals with eliminating stress by being authentic in one’s life. Here’s an excerpt from chapter nine:

Other people see us in a ways that we have no access to, and vice-versa. We are first and foremost an object to other people, just as they are to us, and according to Jean-Paul Sartre this is the basis for relationships between individuals to be one of conflict. Other people cannot see us as we really are, so our existence is one thing for us and something else for them.  If we allow the judgment of others to influence us we run the risk of not being authentic and will experience stress as a result, so how can one be a part of the world and live authentically at the same time?  We can try to tell people who we really are, but it is only through our actions and the products of our actions that they will judge us.

Consider a man who is living in a shack on the beach. Other people see this person with a scraggly beard and long hair blowing in the breeze walking around every day and they label him as a beach bum.  They are unaware that it is the daily wandering that drives his inspiration and creativity, and even if he told them that he was a genius working on a new project they would most likely look at him askance and still judge him to be a beach bum.  However, once he publishes a book or produces a painting these people will change their judgment, and from that point on they’ll recognize him as an author or an artist.

It is one thing to see ourselves as artists and tell other people at parties how we have great books or paintings inside us, but quite another to actually be that artist.  That requires us to make choices and act on them.  So whether we remain as inwardly frustrated artists who dress in suits and go to work in an office every day versus living an authentic life and producing art comes down to our accepting individual freedom and making the appropriate choices, in spite of the judgment of others.  It is easy to come up with excuses in order to justify not taking action, but Nietzsche would have considered it weakness to deny ourselves:

“What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself. What is bad? All that is born of weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

You may well be considered a nonconformist bum when you start out, but those same people who deride your choices will be the first ones with their congratulations on your success and will readily accept what they will then consider your eccentricity. More importantly, you will achieve happiness and be free from the stress of inauthenticity.