“The art of living lies in the fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” A quote from Henry Ellis, a famous explorer, author and US colonial governor. As my 45th birthday approaches, I feel the happiest I’ve ever felt in my life. It is a miracle because it’s been quite a journey for me to reach this point. More than a couple of times along my way I’ve felt utterly hopeless, completely heart-sore and as if I were ‘hexed’. I’ve reached the point where I very nearly committed suicide. In fact, I lost my older brother to suicide five years ago. With World Suicide Prevention Day having just been on Monday the 10th of September, it made me self-reflect and research further into what it means to be well. I came across 3 key ‘ways of being’ that I believe unlock the door to wellbeing. These are:
- HAVING GREAT RELATIONSHIPS;
- BEING PERSONALLY FULFILLED; and
- LIVING IN AUTHENTICITY.
I’d like to share with you my findings.
1. HAVING GREAT RELATIONSHIPS
‘The good life is built with good relationships.’ This is how Robert Waldinger concluded his captivating, carefully constructed and very capably researched TED Talk presented in November 2015. Waldinger’s speech was based on a Harvard study on Adult Development utilizing data from 75 years that tracked the lives of 724 men. It’s maybe the longest study of adult life that’s ever been done, studies like these are rare. Asked year after year about their work, their home lives and their health the clearest message from these 724 men was that: “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.” This talk has been viewed over 23 million times. All throughout history are good relationships not what we have been striving to achieve in one way or another? When the American Declaration of Independence was signed back in 1776, Thomas Jefferson said: “We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour.” Was the essence of these words and this declaration, that went on to build a great nation, not in fact to start with building great relationships? Research confirms that It is good to have great relationships that bear witness to who we are, that see us as we are and that ultimately bring out the best in us. However, a person cannot become fully aware of the very essence of another human being and hence have a truly meaningful relationship unless they are fully self-aware and love themselves first. This brings me to my second key to unlocking the door to wellbeing:
2. BEING PERSONALLY FULFILLED
Would you keep returning to an empty well to fetch water? Especially if there hasn’t been any rain? No. It’s pointless, an empty well will never give you what your heart and soul desires most. In fact, going to an empty well is much like always looking to justify our worth by seeking what is outside of us. We need to look inside ourselves to find personal fulfillment.
In Shawn Achor’s 2011 TED talk “The happy secret to better work.” he provides research which concludes that only 10% of our long-term happiness is affected by our outside world. The ‘Awaken The World Film’ organization released a movie on YouTube this year called “Samadhi Movie, 2018 – Part 2 (It’s Not What You Think)”‘. In it is explained that Samadhi is a state of elevated consciousness where we realize our true selves through realizing our divine nature. It is in realizing our divine nature, sometimes after having gone through the ‘dark night of the soul’, that that we are able to love and accept ourselves completely. Samadhi we are told is personal fulfillment. I completely agree. But how do we get there? This brings me to my third and final key:
3. LIVING IN AUTHENTICITY
From my experience and relationships with others I have found that most people I know have gone through a crisis of confidence at some point in their lives. Jacqui Brassey,, a Global Partner in Leadership; Development and Learning at McKinsey & Company, told her story, in a TED Talk on authenticity earlier this year, of how she had a complete confidence melt down at work and shares how she struggled but got through it. She got through it by facing up to it in three ways: telling her story; researching it and working on herself. Jacqui spoke about and dealt with her insecurities with authenticity and as a result got over them. Her experience has led her to become an advocate for authenticity at work and today focuses her research on authentic confidence. Authenticity as it can be seen lies in overcoming adversity while being true to ourselves. I believe the best project I could ever work on is me. There’s nothing better than being unapologetically my true self. Joseph Campbell, an American Professor of Literature, says: “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” In conclusion, through my personal experience and research I have seen that being well depends on being authentic first and foremost. It is because authenticity lead to personal fulfillment which in turn improves relationships. This week why not challenge yourself to live in complete authenticity? Take it one day at a time, see how it goes. See for yourself if this brings you a deep sense of personal fulfillment and leads to growth in your meaningful relationships. I’d love to receive your feedback.