“Be what you are. This is the first step toward becoming better than you are.” ~Julius Charles Hare
I admit, I have a beautiful life. I don’t mean to brag, but I love the life I have and there is no other life I’d rather live. This wasn’t always my truth.
Many years ago, I didn’t think I would one day have a beautiful life. I had a terrible attitude, a soul-sucking job that I occasionally enjoyed, superficially at best, and I pursued things that would always leave me feeling empty. It took me a long time and a lot of work to get to where I am.
Today, like everyone, I have my own struggles.
I have personal deficits that I’m aware need fine-tuning (or major overhaul). I’m susceptible to sadness, negative energy from others, and occasional feelings of helplessness about the troubles of the world. But I focus more on laughter, celebration, and the depths of life. Overall, life is beautiful.
I’m not talking about aesthetic beauty, although a beautiful environment can contribute to a beautiful life.
I’m talking about a deeper kind of beauty. One that you can’t buy from a store. One that makes you feel excited about being alive, that allows you to be inspired and be an inspiration, that shows your connectedness to other human beings.
I would imagine that many of you who are already living a beautiful life have your own formula for getting there. But for those who are curious, here are my seven key steps:
1. Know thyself.
It sounds simple. In reality, it’s challenging to do. It requires focused introspection, which can be difficult, as most of us have built layers of denial about ourselves. I suggest having a really honest assessment of yourself.
Explore all areas: your passions; your deepest desires and fears; what makes you proud, insecure, and ashamed; what work you’d love to do even without getting paid.
Learning about yourself can be a hugely emotional process, but if you approach it with honesty, you will find it cleansing and therapeutic. A good place to start is the Myers-Briggs test.
I would also suggest engaging someone you trust to help with this process. This person needs to be someone who knows you well, who understands your strengths and weaknesses and whose opinion you respect.
This person can help you determine whether what you believe to be true about yourself comes through to the outside world.
Maybe you love connecting with others, but others find you aloof. This exercise will help point to truths about yourself that aren’t readily visible to the outside world as well as universal truths you may not be ready to accept.