It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

e. e. cummings

The authentic person will keep things real. Authentic people make great friends because you know their input will be honest.

Submit your personal story or favorite illustration, quote, Bible verse, etc. that illustrates a specific virtue to [email protected], then click on the virtue of your choice on the Virtues page to see your story or the stories and illustrations of others.

August 25, 2021

From Carolyn Freeman, San Diego, CA

…”Even as I contemplate the first virtue of Authenticity, I realize what an intense journey I am on personally to understand who I am at my core, my true self. For me, the journey to authenticity involves slowing and listening to my heart, embracing who I am (and not who I or anyone else think I should be) letting go of control, letting go of the need to be right, letting go of shame for when I’ve not measured up to my own standards or the standards of others, and surrendering to the Divine presence I find there…”

May 14, 2021, by Danielle Shroyer. Danielle blogs under the name “Soul Ninja,”

Even as we’re seeking to train our minds, we don’t need to look for confirmation outside of ourselves. And we especially don’t want to fake it, as if we’re working to show off our progress. Instead, we can just remain natural.

Traleg Kyabgon summarizes quite simply, “Whether others perceive us as different or not is irrelevant; our transformation needs to be an internal one.” Don’t try to be special, or act like you’re “set apart” somehow. The more you do this work, the more you just become okay with yourself. No playing games, no putting on airs. Eventually, we hold a lot less tension about how others see us. We stop trying to manipulate whether others recognize our results. It’s like at first, we walk around after meditating wondering, “Can you tell I meditated this morning? Can’t you see how calm I am in this meeting?” But eventually, it’s just what you do. No bicep flexing needed. No outer affirmation.

I’ve noticed the most spiritually mature people I know are also the most grounded. They don’t act like anything but themselves. I was at a conference once with a well-known author, and we were backstage getting tea. She spilled it all over her skirt, and said, quite naturally and without concern, “Well, would you look at that. Let me get a napkin.” I was so taken aback by her total lack of ego, embarrassment, or any need to make an excuse. Honestly, my admiration for her, which was already quite high, simply grew. (And to be quite honest, it’s in stark contrast to the way I see most people behave backstage at conferences!) It was such a simple little interaction, but it spoke volumes. Her writing comes from that place of deep stillness and self-acceptance. It’s why it’s so good!

Remain natural. Because, of course, the best version of ourselves is the natural one. It’s when we learn to come home to ourselves consistently that we live authentically. Jamgon Kungrul says it’s when we practice with “little fanfare but great effectiveness.” Again, it’s that basic principle of no outrageous conduct.

This week, notice: Where are you trying too hard to get people to see you a certain way? What if you just relax into your own sense of self instead?

May 21, 2021, by Danielle Shroyer:

Don’t act with a twist means being aware of our motivations. Are you being nice because you want something in return? Are you showing a certain side of yourself that will be received best?

To be clear, the answer is yes! Of course we do this. And that’s not always a terrible thing. But for mind training purposes, it sure helps to be aware of it. And certainly, there’s a line where we may want to pull back and consider the broader situation. And the broader situation is this: we want to act in the way we believe to be right, and best, regardless of what it “gets” us. Sometimes we do things because we want people to love us, or owe us, or even feel bad for us. We use our actions as levers of manipulation. Not acting with a twist means noticing when we do that.

Consider this slogan the opposite of “how to win friends and influence people.”

The wisdom here asks us to see our actions as pure because the action itself is good. If we do a kind deed and nobody knows it, it still counts. If someone thinks we are rude or misinformed or shallow when we’re not, well, that’s their problem. The heart of what we do matters more than the press we may (or may not) get from it.

Norman Fischer puts it this way: “We train because we know it’s the best way to live, not to get our way, become rich, make people like us…” “Don’t act with a twist” helps us stay honest. It keeps us focused on the rightness of the work, not the quality of our feedback.

This is particularly important for spiritual people to remember because it’s so easy to make a big show of things. Even something honorable, like taking the blame or responsibility for something, can be twisted in hopes the person views us as more “spiritual” or “good.” This is why scripture says to pray and fast in secret. Don’t parade it out in the streets. Just do the thing, and let that be its own beautiful gift.

Certainly, much of this is about becoming aware of how we try to manipulate how others see us. But at the heart, I think it’s more deeply about teaching us to trust the inherent goodness of things. Trust your kindness is worth it because kindness is inherently good. When you give time and energy to a good cause, believe deep within you that it’s a really beautiful and good use of your time and energy. Trust people love you for who you are…and maybe let go of those who don’t!

Take a quick scan and ask yourself where you may be acting with a twist. What’s that about for you? And what if you found your way back to basic goodness instead of all that scheming?

May 23, 2021, The apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:3 & 9 (TPT):

“I would ask each of you to be emptied of self-promotion and not create a false image of your importance. Instead, honestly assess your worth by using your God-given faith as the standard of measurement, and then you will see your true value with an appropriate self-esteem.” “Let the inner movement of your heart always be to love one another, and never play the role of an actor wearing a mask. Despise evil and embrace everything that is good and virtuous.”