How to Live an Authentic Life—Be a Detective! Track Your Own Truth.

Today the loudest voice, whether truthful or not, can divide and sway public opinion. We are bombarded on social media with its stream of tweets, requests to ‘friend’ this person or ‘like’ that post, and by opinion talk shows and podcasts. The line between truth, half-truths and lies is so blurred that it’s difficult to tell the difference between what’s accurate, a little white lie, or blatantly false. If you fall under the spell of external influences, it becomes difficult to recognize what is real in your own life. Turn off your cell phone, computer, and other digital devices. Change your focus inwards to discover your own inner truths—and your authentic self.

Decide that you are in charge of your own life. Fully inhabit yourself! And don’t let anyone else walk in your shoes! You will undoubtedly find others—a family member, colleague or friend—who want to make decisions on your behalf, “for your own good.” Since everyone has different genes, gifts, circumstances, and challenges, you are unique! Your truths will be different from others and an unfamiliar path may present itself to you. Be willing and courageous to follow your inner calling.

Recognize the clues that come through your body. You may have been taught to “Use your head! Think things through!” when faced with a challenge. This advice is useful, but it is not enough. Your physical body, feelings and hunches are contributing significant information at all times. Your body is a truthful barometer, constantly guiding you. Ignore it at your peril! It sends signals when you are thirsty or hungry. If you override this information, perhaps over-eating when you are not hungry or indulging your sweet tooth, you must live with the consequences. Heeding the clues shared by your five physical senses is an ancient survival skill. If you don’t know food has gone bad, your senses will shout, “Don’t swallow this,” If you don’t pay attention, you may get severely ill or even be poisoned. Any part of your physical body can convey a message to you and, if you ignore its milder messages, it will escalate the intensity of discomfort to severe pain.

Your miraculous body also speaks in metaphor—conveying emotional and intuitive messages. Not all upset stomachs are due to what one has eaten! It might reflect your emotional upset after an unpleasant conversation. Our intuition is recognized as our ‘sixth sense’—we know immediately whether it is safe or not to be in an elevator with someone, without a single word being spoken.

Being fully present, precisely observing the situation and tenaciously following clues is the mark of a good detective. To uncover what is working and what is not working in your life, like your favorite detective, you can use these and other detective skills such as following hunches, challenging conventional views, making educated guesses, testing out a hypothesis until proven or disproven; and getting help when needed.

Practice using these “detective skills.” You can also use them to discover your personal “culprits”, that are leading you astray from being your authentic self: i] Ask “Do I want to continue or release old habits that no longer serve me? If you constantly apologize, even though you haven’t really done anything wrong, ask, “How may I change that? What new habit may I adopt in order to live with more confidence? Then you can choose to initiate a new behavior.

ii] Investigate any dissonance between your words and actions. Are your actions in accord with your words? Do you encourage others to limit sugar, while you still secretly indulge? Are you willing to commit to change either your words or your own actions so that they are not contradictory?

Iii] Examine how you respond when you are asked to make a decision. Are you tempted to make a decision to please others, but not yourself? Have you said “yes” when you wanted to say “no,” and vice-versa? If you have felt pressured to make a hasty decision, do you take time to check in with yourself before agreeing to a commitment? If you are unsure, say, “I’m not ready to give an answer yet. I will get back to you.” That way you will contribute more clearly to any future conversation or decision.

iv] In unexpected situations, how have you responded in the presence of some injustice such as bullying or racist comments? Have you remained silent, spoken up, taken some other action? If so, how did you feel about your action/inaction- at the time? How do you feel now?

The mystery of truth beckons us towards integrating love, beauty, and kindness and away from deception, collusion and pain in our personal lives and in society.

Personal integrity remains the cornerstone value on which to build our lives.