Live Your Authentic Life By Answering This One Question

Over the recent Family Day long weekend, my family and I spent a night in Whatcom County. It was sunny and clear but there was quite a nip coming off Lake Whatcom. Perfect weather for sitting in a window seat, watching the small ripples chase each other toward the shoreline. I pulled my journal onto my lap while the kids busied themselves with a card game. I figured I’d just dump some of the thoughts tumbling around in my head before making lunch. I didn’t know I would stumble upon an exercise I’d recommend to help you live your authentic life.

How do you live an authentic life? Answering this one question is a good start.

 

 

Sometimes when I journal, I have a particular thing I want to work out and I just need to see it all physically to make sense of it, to gain some clarity. But that day, it truly was just a moment when I felt like I wanted to take advantage of quiet children and a sunny spot by the window. I started writing random thoughts that piggy backed on each other and didn’t necessarily flow. I start every writing class I teach with this exercise; it’s called a free write. My students (and I) find it a great way to clear out the cobwebs before we move on to other writing tasks. It’s also a phenomenal way to tap into that authentic voice and let it be heard on the page.

After about a page of these random thoughts, I ended up writing this: One day I will look back and think, wow, this is not the important stuff.

The Question To Ask When Wanting To Live An Authentic Life

And no, it wasn’t. I hadn’t intended on writing out anything ‘important’ but clearly, there was a part of me that wanted to. So, I penned: What is important to me? And I wrote down the first thing that came to mind. And then I asked: What else is important to me? And I wrote down the words that described the image I saw in my mind. I continued asking myself, on paper, “What else is important to me?” and each time I saw something pop up, effortlessly, in my mind. I did this 13 times before I drew a blank and felt like I was searching. I decided to quit then because I didn’t want to force anything. Those 13 responses came so easily and felt so right; thinking too hard might have changed the whole experience.

Once I identified the important-to-me things, my values shone through loud and clear: connecting regularly with family and friends, connecting regularly with my faith and Nature, the arts, creating travel opportunities for myself and my family, inspiring others to think about their legacy and their authentic life, and self-care. When I look at these values, it’s easy to see where I need to place my energy and where I can probably take some back. That’s vital; we have a certain amount of energy that we can expend in a given day. Knowing what’s important makes it easier to say ‘no’ to things that aren’t.

authentic life, live your authentic life, living your authentic life, taslim jaffer writer, jamie dunlop khau

I wanted to share this with you so you could give it a try. If it’s not through writing then maybe it’s something else that gets you in the zone. Running? Hiking? Deep breathing with your eyes closed? What clears your mind enough to let that authentic voice be heard?

According to palliative nurse Bronnie Ware, one of the top 5 regrets of the dying is not living a life true to oneself. Answering this question – what is important to me? – might help circumvent that. Or at least, it’s a solid first step.

What is important to you?

I’d love to hear in the comments, if you’re willing to share, 1 or 2 things that are important to you.

taslim jaffer writer

 

8 thoughts on “Live Your Authentic Life By Answering This One Question

  1. Such a simple question to ask oneself, yet triggers so much. I liked that you stopped yourself before it became ‘forced’. That is also important so that one doesn’t get overwhelmed or overstretched trying to get at it all.

    1. I like that you picked up on that – not forcing things. There’s a fine line between the wild voice and the logical voice. Sometimes they compete and when we force things, it’s usually our logical voice telling us what we should be writing down.

  2. What’s important to me?
    The privilege of being here with my lovely Leon, having family and friends I treasure.
    Being grateful for my good fortune.
    Loving the ‘ordinary wonderful’ of daily life.
    Making sure people know they are appreciated and valued.
    Making a positive difference.
    There is probably ,ore but this is it for now.

  3. When I ask myself what is important to me, my first thoughts are of my family. My husband, my sons, my siblings, my nieces and nephew’s, and my dog dog. My friends are the family I have chosen, so they are very important to me. Serving my clients is also important to me.
    Lastly, being free to just be me is also so important to me. This was a wonderful exercise, thank you.

    1. I would have guessed family was tops on your list just from what I know of you. Even in your practice, you focus so much on familial relationships. So wonderful. And the freedom to be yourself – oh, so good. 🙂

  4. So simple, Taslim. Thank you for this. I think I’ve been working towards this mentally without writing anything down, but I’ll put pen to paper now and see what comes up. I already know spending time with my family is at the top.

    1. See what happens when you put pen to paper. I am obviously biased because I’ve been journalling for almost 30 years! But if nothing else, it will just help solidify what you already know and maybe take you to the next level of ‘how do I practice these values?’ (which, incidentally, would be a great writing prompt!).

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