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The Age Of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes It Hard To Be HappyThe Age Of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes It Hard To Be Happy by Michael Foley

My rating and Review at Goodreads:

4 of 5 stars

This is a sharp, witty, highly intelligent and really quite brilliant book. Foley reminds us that our yearning for authenticity is not found only in novelty—a new place, a new lover, a new job: “More effective is to see the familiar with new eyes . . . to smash the crust of habit and see life anew.” He exhorts us to “begin a new job in your current post, enjoy a holiday where you actually live, and most thrillingly, plunge into a tumultuous affair with your own spouse.” (139)

The book is full of nuggets of learned information and wonderful quotes such as “understanding is itself transformation” (24). It is packed with impressive research into psychology and a review of the broad sweep of philosophy from the Stoics to Rousseau and much in between and beyond.

The style is easy flowing, lucid and full of distilled and simple but profound wisdom. Ideal for scholars, searchers and interested readers. This will become a classic!

Beneath all the zealous pursuits of your life—your desire for love, happiness, wealth, power, success and status lies a deep unfulfilled longing. Underlying the myriad hopes and dreams that consume you and may lie partially unsatisfied, there is a more fundamental and ultimately more rewarding search—the quest for your authentic nature. The psychologist Carl Rogers believed that at the root of all the problems people presented as the reason for seeking counselling was just one: a desperate need to become their real selves, to be allowed to drop the mask they presented to the world or felt the world demanded of them. 
There is an authentic self—an ideal you—inside you waiting to be revealed and those who are close to you and who care about you are well placed to help you realise it. Therefore the exploration of the ideal you is not a solitary act or wholly within your own control. Environmental and interpersonal forces help with the sculpting process. Parents, friends, teachers, and colleagues all play a part. Role models are also a vibrant source of aspirational fuel. But few sculptors are likely to exert as powerful an influence on you as those of your close partners in life – and you can do the same for them. 
‎"Most of us miss most of our life!" This stark comment is from the Zen Psychologist, David Brazier It passes by as you busily fill-up your days with hurry and bustle—doing things, being active and productive, or alternatively just being bored! To be adaptive, free and living authentically you require perceptive awareness. This includes heightened levels of attention, clear perception and awareness formed by your intuitive and analytical minds working in harmony. To be aware is "to be conscious of" what is happening in the present moment. It simply means that you know your thoughts and actions. You are aware of yourself and your situation. Awareness has its roots in two Latin words conscious and scire 'to know,' and is synonymous with consciousness. This 'knowingness' is a state, an outcome or result of increased attentiveness. It is brought about through the processes of attention and perception. Read more at 
The roots of authentic meaning and purpose in your life—what it means for you to achieve your highest potential—are to be found in the deep recesses of your mind and spirit. These roots feed the vine of your life. Like any vine it needs nourishment to flourish. What water and sunlight are to the vine, action and satisfaction are to the authentic life. Your inner spark of authentic meaning is nurtured and shaped by the ebb and flow of the stream of your experience, emotions and relationships and by the sense of accomplishment you obtain from the activities you pursue.

To have a vision is essentially to know—deep down—why you are doing what you do. This is well illustrated in the story of the Italian stonecutters told by the psychotherapist Roberto Assagioli. A visitor to a stone quarry asked a stonecutter what he was doing. "Don't you see," he replied a little sourly, "I'm cutting stones," thus showing his dislike of what he regarded as unpleasant and valueless work.

The visitor passed on and put the same question to another stonecutter. "I'm earning a living for myself and my family," replied the workman in an even tempered way that reflected a certain satisfaction.
Further on, the visitor stopped by a third stonecutter and asked him: "And what are you doing?" This third stonecutter replied joyously: "I am building a Cathedral." He had grasped the big picture. This potentially tedious and demanding task was part of the great vision for a Cathedral. His efforts were as necessary as the architect's, and carried equal value.
Therefore, he was performing his work not only willingly, but with enthusiasm. If you keep your focus on the big picture—the long term vision—then the cares of today will take care of themselves.

Activity, including obviously important and beneficial activity can at times be tedious and repetitive. It is not always possible to be full of excitement and overflowing with eager enjoyment at every task, especially those you feel you ‘must’ do. Or is it? Yes it is, and the magic ingredient is enthusiasm.
The truth is that every task contributes to the whole. The great painters were always keen to stretch their own canvass and tack it to the frame and mix and prepare their own paints. These preparatory and potentially mundane tasks were also seen as part of the finished composition and helped in the process of focusing.
Enthusiasm means to engage in the small duties with the same attention and eagerness as the big events. And enthusiasm is greatly enhanced by having a clear motivation and vision of why, not just what, you are about.
Appreciation of the life and love of others is the essence of a free and authentic life. Be enthusiastic in your appreciation for the achievements of others. Cultivate gratitude for all the elements of your life and let go of grievances and resentments. This will release you from the pull of the ego and fill you with a deep inner sense of appreciation for the abundance of life. Read more on Appreciation (the 7th Pillar of the Freedom Code)
Grow where you are planted! Staying in the real world is crucial to the process of creating the authentic life you desire. Michael Foley in The Age of Absurdity reminds us that our yearning for authenticity is not found only in novelty – a new place, a new lover, a new job. “More effective is to see the familiar with new eyes…to smash the crust of habit and see life anew.” Foley exhorts us to “begin a new job in your current post, enjoy a holiday where you actually live, and most thrillingly, plunge into a tumultuous affair with your own spouse.”

If you are stressed out, lacking direction, unable to discern any meaning and finding it hard even to focus on the possibility of an ‘authentic  you’ then start by establishing some stability—a stable self that you can rely upon. This may be as simple as setting up a daily routine and trying hard to stick to it. It may mean looking at your job and seeing if it is satisfying and making some plans to upskill or reskill so you at least have the chance to make a change. It might certainly mean being present with and for those you are close to, perhaps even live with. Seek help. Look for mentors, counsellors, pastors that can give you support, encouragement and reflect the real you that you are unable to be – just now.

One of the toughest places to remain authentic is at work. We often disappear behind our mask or don the role allocated to us. Yet so long as we are true to the core elements of our authentic nature: being honest, acting honorably, staying true to our core values, showing compassion then we can still carry out our role and be truly authentic. Life is never perfect. We find our authentic nature in the place we are at - not the dream-place beyond the horizon.

This Blog Post by Jennifer Colosimo the co-author with Stephen R. Covey of Great Work, Great Career highlights some practical ways that you can stay authentic in the working environment.


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