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Women have a harder job than men in asserting their independence and being more authentic. This is especially so in non-Western and more traditional societies. This excerpt from an Indian woman writer Prya Florence Shah reflects the situation in her country - but there is a message here for every woman. The Curse of the Nice Girl

How hard is it to stay authentic – to be true to your dreams – when you move from High School to College? Where does the urge to change the world disappear to? Read this deep, human and engaging story from a young writer on how to stay authentic in a changing world... What happened to changing the world?


How young do you need to be to start living authentically? It sounds like a stupid question. Surely you should be living authentically all your life. Well that depends on whether you are allowed to or not. The case of the 16 year old Dutch girl Laura Dekker highlights this issue. Ever since she was a toddler she wanted to sail alone around the world. This was no pipe dream. Laura was born on a yacht during her parents seven year round the world voyage before their divorce. She was more comfortable on a boat than on dry land so her dream was grounded in practical reality.
When she was 13 she took her fathers yacht and sailed it single handed from Holland to England encountering bad weather but arriving safely. Her reward was to be arrested by the British police. When she announced that she would sail around the world on her own the Dutch authorities made her a ward of the State and forbade her to sail. Her mother was vehemently against the plan but her father, at first reluctant, eventually supported her. With the help of a friendly lawyer they beat the Dutch authorities and Laura completed her 518 day solo voyage sound the world (the youngest person ever at 16) when she landed at the Caribbean island of St Maarten in January 2012.
This remarkable story told in The Sunday Times highlights the courage and tenacity required in Being You – becoming and remaining truly authentic. Laura’s journey told with elegant simplicity on her blog is summed up in her own words: “I did it just for myself.”
Her experience neatly follows the structure of the 7 Pillars of the Freedom Code – the implementation path of Adaptive Freedom. Laura was acutely attentive and aware of her needs and what she wanted to achieve (1. Perceptive Awareness). This included conscious attention while on board. She wrote: “In tricky moments, such as stormy weather, I just focus on what needs to be done to control the situation, step by step.”
She was clearly aligned in mind and body with the elemental forces that contrived to bring her dream to reality (2. Alignment with Universal Energy). To fulfil your potential requires more than just dreaming: it must be backed up with concrete plans, detailed preparation and action (3. Pursue Purposive Action).
Though alone she remained in constant contact with her family, friends and supporters, and felt deeply connected to them despite the distance. She was also intimately connected with the sun, wind and sea and all the creatures around her – not to mention her closest companion, her boat ‘Guppy’ (4. Connect and Communicate).
Laura has a strong acceptance of her self, her life and her moment in that life. However, she has not so far been able to accept the way she was treated by Dutch officialdom though she has been reconciled again with her mother (5. Acceptance). To be a solo circumnavigator on a small yacht requires a ready willingness to adapt to change at every opportunity (6. Adaptability) and her blog is full of the delight she found in every day at sea—even doing her school work (7. Animation and Appreciation). She wrote “I look back with joy at the adventures of the past year.
Read Laura’s Blog
Adaptive Freedom and the power of living authentically requires becoming better at managing change. The 6th Pillar of the Freedom Code – Become Adaptable - deals a lot with this idea. As we embrace change and start living more on the edge of life we begin to perform better. So thinks the psychologist Tony Bates. In a moving article on depression in The Irish Times he writes “Staying within your comfort zone is safe, but it can lack vitality. Moving towards the edge of the unknown, that’s where we become creative. Those edges bring out in us our resilience. Until we have our hand near the fire, we don’t learn how to manage fire, even though we can write books about it forever.”
One of the best, oldest and still most popular self-help book is Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich.” It has a mainline focus on the power of intention and has helped millions transform their lives. But it may also be the most misunderstood book in the self-help genre – because thinking alone won't deliver the life you desire. Hill made this clear by pointing out the “desiring riches with a state of mind that becomes an obsession, and planning definite ways and means to acquire riches, and backing those plans with persistence which does not recognize failure, will bring riches.” A positive mental attitude is essential but is has to be backed up by action – which is the essence of the 3rd Pillar of the Freedom Code – Pursue Purposive Action.

The novelist Edward Docx writes that we are moving into a new Age of Authenticism shaped by three core ideas: specificity, values and authenticity.

“This is evident in a growing desire for authenticity all around us. We can see it in the specificity of the local food movement or…we can hear it in the use of the word “legend” as applied to anyone who has actually achieved something in the real world. (The elevation of real life to myth!) We can recognise it in advertising campaigns such as for Jack Daniel’s, which ache to portray not rebellion but authenticity. We can identify it in the way brands are trying to hold on to, or take up, an interest in ethics, or in a particular ethos…Values are important once more: the values that the artist puts into the making of an object as well as the values that the consumer takes out of the object.”

The desire for a meaning to make sense of the complexity of modern living is an urgent one. Which is basically a need to become more authentic. This means validating our own values, acting honorably in upholding them and doing so through a life lived in tolerance and harmony within the community of people who share our earthly space.

Read his article in Prospect Magazine here Age of Authenticism

The call to authentic living is a challenging one because it essentially means to believe in yourself and you may find this too risky. It may be easier and safer to be like others—part of the crowd, or to be what others have consistently told you that you are, to conform to the “you” that gets the approval you crave.
To answer the call of authentic living is risky because it means stepping out, standing up, and saying no, when most of your life up to this point may have involved stepping aside, standing down, and saying yes even when your inner spirit wanted to do otherwise. You may have become conditioned to stay quiet rather than speak out through the harsh lessons life has taught you. Nothing ventured nothing lost! It may appear that the safest thing is not to venture beyond the comfort zone you have created for yourself.
We find it easy to deceive ourselves. Despite its obvious shortcomings we are good at convincing ourselves that our life is fine, that we are living to the limits of our potential and see no need for change. But perhaps we haven’t counted those little bits of passion, intensity of feeling or flights of fancy that we have lost along the way. We may be secure, settled, sincere, satisfied and that may amount to a sense of a fulfilled life (in which case it is authentic) or it may amount to a barely perceptible sense of loss, unease, anguish or anxiety (in which case it is a stagnant life).
Connection is vital to living a free and authentic life and this is reflected in its central place in the 7 Pillars of the Freedom Code. A new slant on the importance of social interconnection comes from Steve Pavlina’s Personal Development Insights Newsletter #42. Steve identifies a lack of abundance in life as stemming from your beliefs about money. “Money is communication” he writes and “More often than not, the problem is that you're trying to make money in ways that could be described as socially inept.” He argues that strong social skills create financial abundance. In a compelling and well thought out ending he suggests that financial abundance stems from:

1. Your ability to proactively befriend intelligent, resourceful people and add them to your social network.
2. Your ability to inspire people to refer helpful opportunities to you (resources, leads, clients, etc).
3. Your ability to serve as a positive source of inspiration and opportunities for others (maintaining win-win connections).
4. Your ability to prune and release dead-weight relationships (avoiding win-lose and lose-lose connections).
Steve believes that people who suffer financially generally make the following social mistakes:
1. They often behave as loners and spend a lot of time alone or with the same few people (social isolationists).
2. They frequently suffer from approach anxiety and low self-esteem, which discourages them from initiating new connections and creating social expansion (social timidity).
3. They clutter their social lives with losers who have little to offer in terms of support, resources, and skill-building (low standards).
4. When they do meet intelligent and resourceful people, they act passively and fail to establish new friendships (lack of intitiative).
5. They remain loyal to a pity posse that consistently blocks good referrals with fear, jealousy, or sarcasm (clinginess).
Read more from Steve at
Though you are an individual you live in a world of others as part of society. As you interact and participate, you become more integrated into the larger worlds that exist around you—your family, your circle of friends, and the natural world or the universe.
The consequence of interrelatedness is holism—an undivided or unbroken completeness or totality with nothing wanting—the quality of being united into one. In essence we are indistinguishable from one another; even though our skin may be a different color, we may speak a different language, eat different food, laugh at different jokes, or behave in ways others don’t understand.
We are one. You are indistinguishable from me. All our fundamental attributes are identical since we are both living members of the same species homo sapiens, of the Hominid family characterised by superior intelligence, articulate speech and erect carriage.
Humans have evolved a holistic way of seeing the world which conforms to its interconnected nature. We have an innate tendency to form wholes or unities in perception. From the work of the Gestalt psychologists we know that we see whole pictures not the dots that they are composed of. Our natural inclination is to search for a holistic perspective—to create symmetry from dissonance and unity from parts.
This suggests an approach to the world which is interactive, cooperative, and qualitative, informed by our values, authentic and engaged. A holistic worldview challenges us to see all things in the world as forming part of an undivided wholeness. If for instance, we were to take a snapshot of a single thought it wouldn’t make any sense – it is the continuous stream of thoughts that create meaning not the separate components.
The tendency to find difference rather than similarity and create discord rather than unity therefore runs counter to our basic biological functioning and to our innate natural disposition towards harmony.
The realization of holism in practice means that when we are faced with a situation we take time to look at all aspects to see it in the round or see it from every point of view.
When we meet a person that we dislike or do not agree with we try to expand our perspective, try to imagine the positive characteristics that may be hidden to us but that undoubtedly underlie the negative ones that we see. We try to envision that person in their wider life beyond this immediate interaction. We see them in their home, with their loved ones, at play, at prayer, in joy and suffering. We are all of us more than the façade we present, greater than our role, deeper than our skin, and never just our anger, or merely our actions.
The origin, transportation and destination of our own thoughts are invisible to us, and so often are their meaning. How can we expect that the opposite is true of others? How can we separate their current thoughts from their past thoughts; from where they came from, how they got here, and where they want to go to? And the same holds true for their actions: how can we separate their actions from their thoughts, their words from their deeds, their morning from their evening, their today from their yesterday, their hopes from their fears, their passion from their pain, and their perspective of us from our perspective of them?
This means that the only realistic approach is to take a ‘whole view’ of the world, a whole view of ourselves and a whole view of others and all of this together. You look at the big picture all of the time, and act not just out of self-interest but for the whole good of the community.
Humans are an exciting and complex mix of mental, emotional and spiritual features all existing within a social and holistic framework where we both contribute to the social world and are influenced by it.
The complete interconnectedness of the human race implies more than a common identity as a species but includes a collective consciousness or a form of super-consciousness. We are at once individual minds and part of the wider global mind of the human race.
This was acknowledged by one of the founders of the American school of pragmatic philosophy Charles Sanders Peirce towards the end of the 19th Century, when he said that Esprit de Corps, national sentiment and the will of large corporations were no mere metaphors. They reflected a common or aggregate personality of the groups of humans within them who were in “intensely sympathetic communion.”
This idea was echoed by other thinkers of the time who spoke of a group mind as an independent organism in its own right where we are co-conscious with one another in a “super-human intelligence.”
The Irish poet William Butler Yeats used the term spiritus mundi or "spirit of the world," to mean that each human mind is linked to a single vast intelligence, and that this intelligence causes certain universal symbols to appear in individual minds.
This seems very like the collective unconscious described by Carl Jung who himself advocated a concept borrowed from ancient alchemy of the unus mundas – literally ‘one world’ – a deeper unifying element that underlies both mind and matter. Jung’s concept of ‘synchronicity’ or meaningful “coincidences” is an example of such a unifying element expressed as a moment in time.
Our minds are structured in a way that facilitates this global collective activity. We couldn’t function as a social network unless we had a common system for absorbing and using information. Humans have developed a complex and effective hierarchical order of abstract concepts which allows us to make sense of the world. We are all born with this ability and we use it in the same way. It allows us to align our mind with other minds and without it the world would be chaotic.
This goes some way to explain the concept of the inseparable interconnectedness of the whole universe as the fundamental reality. This is a universal principle which is found in most religions and also emerges from Quantum theory, and applies even to the tiniest particles inside the atom. Everything, no matter how small or how great, corresponds to the whole. Atoms, cells, molecules, plants, animals, people, buildings, cars, planes—all flow together seamlessly in a web of information and energy.
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