What an authentic existence is, or what an authentic human is, has remained a mystery for the majority of people for seemingly all of time. In Western culture, and here in America especially, people are being repeatedly sold the latest guides to self-improvement and personal development. Questions like who am I? and what is my purpose? are asked by most people. Yet, depression, isolation, and loneliness are prevalent emotions in our society. Why?
Maybe we haven’t been asking the right questions. Maybe, we have been looking at the issue from the wrong angle. All the questions, guides, books, and teachers have a similar thing in common: they claim to know the answer about how to make someone a more authentic person by fixing something that is wrong with them. But, as it turns out, a person’s happiness is directly correlated with the strength of their relationships. It is not about what I can do to be a better person. It is not about what MY purpose is. It is not a journey of SELF discovery. It is not something that is wrong with ME. Maybe, the key to authenticity has a lot less to do with us as individuals and a lot more with how we relate to other people. Maybe, the key to finding happiness and a place in this world is not about inserting ourselves into whatever we think we want at the time, or who we think we should be at the time, but to build positive relationships with people wherever we go and let our place in society manifest itself. There is a reason why the questions of who am I? and what is my purpose? are asked so frequently yet seemingly answered so rarely. The reason is maybe because these aren’t the right questions to be asking. Maybe the questions we should be asking are who are WE? and what WE as a species, nation, community, or family can do to better the lives of all of US? Purpose is such a stagnant concept. It is hard for me to imagine, people being as adaptable and flexible as they are, for someone to have any one purpose as an individual for their whole lives. Our purpose might take different forms in different parts of our lives, but we can always have the goals of being authentic and compassionate.