Article by Rennie Gould
There are two things I have to declare right from the start, the first is that I am a man and the second is that I passed the fifty milestone some time ago, therefore I have a slightly different perspective to the one you are probably used to, but I hope you are prepared to stick with me despite these obvious shortcomings.
Many people are inspired by a particular event to take a cold, hard look at their life – a fiftieth birthday, a divorce or becoming an empty nester, are some of the most common time-to-take-stock moments, but I would like to argue that we shouldn’t wait for some external event to provide the stimulus to re-examine our life, as the time to do this is right now!
Many of us (me included) find ourselves at a point in our life that we couldn’t have predicted – as if a whole series of largely random events had just happened to us largely outside of our control.
Actually, there is a good reason to feel like this because this is a pretty accurate explanation of what has probably happened to you, as your Current Self is largely a mixture of inherited genes triggered by chance events in your early life and this has influenced all your choices, decisions and behaviour ever since.
So is it perhaps time to take control of your life and to steer it in the direction of your choice rather than allow it to continue to operate as if on autopilot? Particularly as the latest science has told us that this is indeed entirely possible as the genes that control our entire body are not fixed after all but can be turned up or down rather like lights attached to a dimmer switch.
But where do you start? In my line of work, I would suggest that the question is, who is your Authentic Self? In reality, you have probably been given important clues throughout your life but have either chosen to ignore them or failed to recognise their true significance:
Clues to your Authentic Self can be found under the following headings:
- Peak Experiences – When we are flying effortlessly at 30,000 feet and feeling truly wonderful
- Best times / Favourite memories – Those times and events that stick in our memory and bring a smile to our face
- Abiding interests – Those activities that we keep coming back to that we genuinely enjoy and feel good about doing
- When in the zone – When we become fully absorbed in any task and where we lose all track of time
- Our heroes – Those people we admire or respect and even try to emulate
- Our favourite daydreams – What we imagine ourselves doing if only we had the opportunity or courage
I could go on, but you probably get the drift, as all the above are messages from our Authentic Self (messages from the soul if you prefer) if only we would listen to them. So why don’t you take a pen and paper and go through the above headings and see what comes out. You might also like to compare your answers with the results of an online questionnaire called the VIA Survey of Character Strengths that can be found at: www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/testcenter
And having identified your true Authentic Self, pick an area of your life you might like to change by being the real you and take those first few steps in your chosen direction, but take care, your life may never be the same again…