My personal belief is that living authentically requires us to gain knowledge and ideally mastery of our lives through our life experiences. Note I state ideally mastery, but I believe it possible to live authentically without mastery provided we gain knowledge and wisdom from our experiences. Knowledge is derived first from awareness and the realization of our experiences and then the commitment to use these experiences to enhance our ability to live a meaningful and fulfilled life. Further, our ability to gain knowledge is significantly impeded if we lack proper awareness or improperly process/perceive our experiences.
Given the aforementioned definition of experience let’s explore three (3) primary and vastly different ways in which I believe people process their experiences and its potential impact on ones ability to live authentically.
First, there are those who are exposed to events/subjects and have little or no cognizance/awareness of the event afterwards. They have little recollection of anything other than perhaps being there. They fail to gain any discernible knowledge from the experience of the event/subject and as a result have little/nothing that can be applied to living a more fulfilling life.
Secondly, there are those that have a significantly unbalanced or distorted view of their experience as a result of an unrealistic (overly positive or negative) perspective of the event. This distorted view creates a false knowledge in the mind of the individual that if not recognized and properly addressed leads to the further application of this distorted view. Living a life based upon a distorted (unauthentic) view of our experiences carries significant negative consequences and is the greatest impediment to living a meaningful and fulfilling life. George Bernard Shaw is credited with the quote: “ Beware false knowledge, it is more dangerous than ignorance”. This is especially true of false knowledge derived from a distorted perception of ones experience (s).
Lastly, there are those who consider each and every experience as an opportunity to gain knowledge and mastery of events and subjects that can potentially and significantly enhance their ability to live an authentic lifestyle. The only way to consistently acquire knowledge and ideally achieve mastery is to step fully into each experience rather than try to process it outside ourselves! Rather than be oblivious to events or subjects or to distort the experience, ask yourself, “What is really happening to me?” “Am I allowing myself to be overly influenced by external stimuli?” If you have had negative experiences, you can ask yourself: “Have I previously had such experiences, and if so, is there a discernible pattern?” If you have been overly positive to negative experiences, you can ask yourself: “ What or who am I not facing in this experience?” Finally, ask yourself, because of my extreme optimism to a negative experience, “am I dismissing a valuable key point that can lead me to a greater insight about the reality of the experience and myself?”
Do you truly wish to live a meaningful and fulfilling life? If so, I challenge you ask yourself, what is my experience?
image ©Rojo, S.
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