Faith WoodLiving a happy life is everyone’s goal. Who doesn’t want to feel good about themselves? Yet many of us live a life of self-doubt, feeling undeserving or incapable, or wishing we were walking another path.

But wishing you were living a different life won’t make it happen. And others (even if they love you) can’t mend the track you’re on. Even if they really want to.

We’re all capable of living happily, regardless of the situation we find ourselves in. It is a matter of how you perceive yourself. Even those struggling with financial woes and uncertainty can think themselves happy.

I know that sounds unbelievable, but it’s true. You can think yourself happy by taking action, being honest about yourself and your patterns of thinking, and being open to your capacity to change. Self-knowledge is the key to living a happy life. And that means living your truth, not other people’s truth or what society tells you is your truth.

Socrates famously said that the unexamined life isn’t worth living. An ongoing process of self-analysis and self-examination, leading to greater understanding and self-knowledge, is the basis for most of the world’s religions and belief systems for a good reason.

If you don’t know who you are, you’re not your true self in the world. If this is the case, you’re living a passive life, reacting to whatever comes along instead of taking control. Living unconsciously like this is living half asleep, and if you’re half asleep, you can’t be your best you.

Living an authentic life doesn’t mean going off the grid. It does mean a daily practice of being honest about how you’re feeling and why and reminding yourself that you’re in control of how you feel.

It means being clear about what your values and beliefs are – what rules you live by. Are your values yours, or have you absorbed them from other people? Do they still fit with the life you want to lead?

Here are five steps to living a more authentic life:

  • Be clear about how you want your life to be right now and where you want to go. Understand and live by your values and beliefs.
  • Be aware of yourself and how you react and interact with other people, situations, events, the world.
  • Set and maintain conscious boundaries. Be clear in your mind and be at peace with what you can and can’t control.
  • Be okay with imperfection in yourself and others. Be objective about your weaknesses so you can improve upon them without letting them get you down.
  • Be kind and forgiving to yourself and others.

Living your truth means taking responsibility for your life and building a deep self-knowledge that will ultimately lead to contentment and happiness.

Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications. For interview requests, click here.

The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are theirs alone and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our publication.

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