“Living each day as if it were your last doesn't mean your last day of retirement on a remote island. It means to live fully, authentically and spontaneously with nothing being held back.” Author Jack Canfield
Here we are facing a new year, having just experienced a totally chaotic 2016. Unfortunately, we cannot change the past, nor can we control what others do. What we can control is how we live our lives. This we can do by virtue of the choices we make.
To make effective choices, the New Year is the time to invoke curiosity -- that is, curiosity about our Selves.
So, I ask you: “Who are you? Why are you here on this earth?”
At first these sound like the most simplistic questions we could ask ourselves. Yet, within the simplicity exists one of the most complex and hardest questions we need to answer – if we are to live our lives authentically.
I once attended a workshop with the Buddhist meditation teacher and author, Jack Kornfield, who began with the question, “Who are you?” He followed that question with another question, “If you're that, then who are you?” Again and again he asked the same question, forcing us to go deeper into our hearts souls, and spirits. The deeper we went, the more meaningful our answers became.
Try this exercise: Have ready a blank piece of paper and pen, or colors pencils. Allow yourself 1/2 hour and ask yourself this question: “Who am I as a man/woman in this world?”
- In response, write whatever comes to mind using words – not sentences. Do not censor, even if what you are writing doesn’t make sense to you right now. Remember, no one will see this but you.
- Then turn the page over and ask yourself that question again: “If I am those things then what does it mean about the choices I need to make during this next year?” Again, just write words on a page.
- If you would like, a second option would be to divide this question into parts, with each part relating to the different areas of your life, i.e. as a parent, spouse, professional, or friend.
- Ask yourself these questions: “In 2016 did I make the choices that reflect what I have now written?” If not then ask yourself: “What do I have to change?” “What end result am I really seeking?”
Remember, this exercise is about developing self-awareness by surveying your life and understanding the importance of making decisions reflecting the best Self you can be. This exercise is not to be used as a vehicle for judging your Self.
Finally, ask yourself: Are there a couple of small changes I could make in 2017 that would help to support the real me?”
This exercise is not about deciding to make big, radical changes. This is about making subtle nuanced differences. Interestingly, each subtle small change has the power to make a humongous difference in our ability to live life authentically. Making one successful change gives us the courage to make the next change. And, on and on.
When we are living authentically, it boosts our sense of Self as a unique person in this world, and giving us strength and courage.
“The authentic experience, where is that? Living the moment.” Actor, Chris Pine