Living an Authentic Life Leads to Simplicity

We all talk about how we want to simplify our lives, how busy we are, how stressed, how over extended.  I am learning that by living an authentic life, my life automatically simplifies.  When I say living an authentic life, I mean thinking about what your priorities are — what’s really important to you, what reflects your core beliefs, your personality — and then making sure your time and committments reflect those priorities. 

Here’s an example:  I’m a Messianic Jew.  For me, the Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday night and lasts until sundown on Saturday night.  Friday night we welcome Shabbat by having a nice meal at home with blessings/prayers handed down throughout the generations.   For the longest time, whenever I would hear about something scheduled on Friday night that sounded interesting or fun (a concert, a special speaker or meeting, a gathering of friends), I would want to go and had the attitude, “Well, if it weren’t for Shabbat, I could be doing (fill in the blank).”  This made me unhappy and conflicted on Friday night, which was supposed to be a time of peace and joy as I took part in the special time of God’s rest.   One day I realized that if the Sabbath was truly important to me — if it was a priority — then I should be HAPPY to devote my time to it.  I came to think of it as an honor to say to myself or someone else, “That event sounds wonderful and I’d love to be there, but my priority is honoring Shabbat.”  Nothing had changed except that I was saying “yes” to my authentic self and “no” to distractions.  As a fellow Stephen Minister recently commented, “That must have been so freeing.”  It was freeing.

The same goes for being a vegan.  We all know how hard it is to diet.  It’s hard to deprive ourselves of chocolate or pizza or hot dogs when we’re trying to lose weight.  But having a higher goal than myself — ending animal cruelty, helping the environment by eating a sustainable diet — makes it easy to turn down a piece of pizza or a hot dog.  In fact, with my priorities of animals and the environment in mind, it would be almost impossible for me to eat a food with animal products in it, no matter how tempting the dish.

It is a constant process to look at my limited resources (time, money) and decide where they should be spent so I’m living true to my authentic self.  There are a lot of good and valuable ways to spend your time and money.  But by having a clear understanding of what’s important to YOU, makes it easier to make those decisions.  Take the subject of donating to charity  for example.  If I have $50 to donate and I get a solicitation in the mail for a charity benefitting children with cancer, it’s easy for me to feel the guilt and burden of those kids.  If I remember that MY authentic self is all about animals and the environment, then it becomes easy to donate my $50 to World Wildlife Fund instead.  That’s not to say a charity benefitting kids with cancer isn’t a noble and worthy cause.  It is!   It just isn’t my cause.  As for the residual guilt I may feel, I remind myself there are people in the world who don’t care enough about animals and the environment to donate to those causes because they’re ALL ABOUT helping children with cancer.

By being true to your authentic self, you can simplify your life by realizing where you really want to spend your time, your money, your life.  If you need to mop the floor and your daughter wants you to play a game with her, you need to weigh a lot of things to make a decision how to spend your time.  Having a clean home is important; spending time with your daughter is important.  Now, if you have company coming in 20 minutes, it’s easy to pick mopping the floor.  If your daughter has been particularly good and patient today, it’s easy to choose the game with your daughter.  Sometimes what’s truly important to you (time with your family) and what you have to do (work late for your boss) collide and you have no choice but to choose what is less important to you in your heart.  You may love your family more than your boss, but putting food on the table for your kids as a result of being employed makes it necessary to choose working late.  What I’m saying is that too often we forget what’s truly important to us and we find ourselves thoughtlessly living life without being true to our authentic selves. 

Of course, discovering WHO you are and WHAT is important to you is the first step, but FINDING your authentic self is another matter entirely!

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2 Comments »

  1. Hi Connie,

    I also used to look at the Sabbath as a day that I had to give up going places or doing things or conducting business. Then I started looking at it as not a command, but a beautiful, perfect gift from God. Yes, God the creator of all, gave me and YOU the gift of a day off to rest, relax, renew and to worship Him.

  2. Nancy said

    Connie,

    I can’t believe that I communicated so much with you while writing my book (thanks again for all your help with the book focus group!) and did not know any of these things about you (that you are a Messianic Jew, a vegetarian, an environmentalist, etc.). I’m proud of you for stepping out in faith to do what you feel you are being called to do.

    Blessings,
    Nancy

    P.S. Love your last post. You know anything about simplicity is right up my alley! 😉

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