Joseph Campbell once said “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”
I grew up hearing things like “Just be yourself” but I always kind of wondered what that really meant. What does it mean to be who you are, or to be yourself? Are you a rich person or a poor person? Do you drink yourself into oblivion every weekend or do you gossip about people who do? Are you a Republican, a Democrat, an Anarchist or an Independent? Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, Pagan, Hindu…? Vegan, Vegetarian, Low Carb, Gluten Free, or do you order meat lovers pizza every other night? Are you gay or are you straight? What do you look like, where do you live? What is your net worth?
And are any of these things…really…you? Who are you?
The answers that we get from the masters are often cryptic and sound something like “You must find that on your own” or “look inside yourself” and you know what is really irritating about that statement is that it is true. However, here are some ideas I have for those wishing to take that journey.
1. As Joseph Campbell said “If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
Follow your bliss. Where you have passion, there lies some truth about who you are and your purpose in life.
2. Don’t be afraid to see things differently than everyone: As Albert Einstein once said “Small is the number of them that see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts”. This includes giving yourself permission to see the world differently than your family, your church, your political party, your friends and society at large. You have a brain and your unique way of seeing the world for a reason. A balanced perspective comes from many voices, not from a few people claiming to be experts.
3. Tell the truth: And the truth shall set you free. No need to apologize. You see what you see. You feel what you feel. You love what you love. And you dislike what you dislike. With truth comes passion. With truth comes electricity. With truth comes greater intimacy. I am not talking about being unnecessarily brutal. I am talking about telling it like it is, what you see from your perspective maintaining respect for the feelings of others.
4. Avoid people who drain and bore you: if possible. If you are feeling bored by someone on a consistent basis, they are not helping you to find yourself. Look for people who share a similar “bliss” as you. Start with your bliss, and you will likely find the kind of people that belong as your companions.
5. Turn off your television: If you want to be told what to think, how to feel, and what kind of persona to have, without having to go searching for it, television will give that to you. If you want to find yourself, you need a certain separation from the herd. I am not saying to never watch television, but to be mindful of the messages you are programming yourself with on a daily basis.
6. Spend time alone: Write, ponder, think and search. Think about your thoughts. Think about nothing. Watch a leaf float down the river.
7. Be a creator: Be an active participant. If you don’t like your life, change it. Make a list of what you are passionate about. What do you want more of? Build your life around that and release the dead weight. You create your life whether it is by putting it together with your own hands, or sitting on your hands waiting for others to define it for you. You choose how much you participate. Either way, you are responsible.
8. Live in the moment: Let go of the past. Let go of who you think you are. You are here, now with some time. A breath of life with a certain measure of time. Finding yourself is not about defining all the things you think about yourself. It is about learning to embrace the questions, embracing the uncertainty, the pain, the joy of being alive.
9. Laugh: Laugh at yourself, see the humor in the world. The foibles, the setbacks, the failings, the silly.
10. See outside of yourself: give a dollar to the guy standing with a sign, help someone push their car out of the road, take some time and notice the struggles of others. Is there a way that you can help your neighborhood? Your country? The world?
And there you have it. Good luck and may the force be with you 😉