When Present-Moment Truth Trumps the Pursuit of Happiness: Learning to Live Authentically Here and Now

When Present-Moment Truth Trumps the Pursuit of Happiness: Learning to Live Authentically Here and Now

“We are powerful beyond measure, and so deeply vulnerable at the same time. This may seem like a dichotomy, but it isn’t. We have misunderstood real power. It has been something assertive, non-surrendering, pushing on through. This is not real power. This is simply willfulness. Real power is something else—receptivity, openness, the courage to keep your heart open on the darkest of days, the strength to feel it all even when the odds are stacked against you. Real power is showing up with your heart on your sleeve and absolutely refusing to waste one moment of your life hidden behind edginess and armor.” ~ Jeff Brown

In our first session my clients often tell me that they have a goal to be more authentic. It’s a realization (and relief) to them when they discover that fulfilling that intention happens now, not in the future. To the conjuring, confused mind, then seems far more realistic. Missed, however, is what wants to be felt, said, experienced as authentic in this moment.
“I don’t feel authentic,” Martin tells me. “I feel like I’m hiding, trying so hard to please all the time.” Sitting tenderly across from me, my client speaks without realizing how deeply authentic his disclosure is – a rare vulnerable declaration in a society bent on suppressing, rising above and fitting in. 
“Martin, do you notice how authentic you are being with me right now?” A light goes on. It dawns on him that truth is shining through. He doesn’t have to wait.
In this, he also comes to see that authenticity doesn’t necessarily mean happiness. “Authenticity,” I go on to say, “is not about being happy. Rather, it’s an act of being true – true to oneself in this very moment.”
We easily forget this.
In a time when New Age teachings and personal growth circles extol positive thinking and the pursuit of happiness, lost is the truth of one’s experience as it lives now in the body. The vulnerability of being human, in all our foibles and fallibility, is easily bypassed.
We look to be strong at the cost of our weakness; to act clear at the cost of very real confusion; to rise above at the cost of dropping down and feeling what wants, needs to be felt. We lose sight that being an authentic human is not about dancing in the light all the time, but being courageously honest, moment-to-moment, as we tread tenderly through the inevitability of dark waters.
Indeed, in the pursuit of happiness, self-compassion (and compassion for others) is so often lost.
“I feel sad.” “I judge myself a lot.” “I’m terrified of failure.” “I let self-doubt get in the way.” How beautifully raw and real! Each, so utterly necessary at times if we are to be true to our vulnerable nature, and true to others.
Paradoxically, as I tell my clients, the way out is the way through. By embracing or befriending the present-time truth of our sadness, fear, doubt, weakness, etc, we avail ourselves to greater degrees of happiness. Happiness arises more naturally in learning to love all parts of ourselves. In being present to them.

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Check out Vince’s book: Let the Fire Burn ~ Nurturing the Creative Spirit of Children, A Children’s Book for Adults

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