Every decision you make—every decision that you make every second—is not a decision about what to do. It is a decision about who you are. Every act is an act of self-definition. – Neale Donald Walsch
This quote is actually pretty brilliant. Want to find out what you really think of yourself?
Just spend one day monitoring your every decision. Every. Decision. Begin the moment you wake up and you decide what to first think about (“aw hell no, not another day of drudgery” or “no, wanna sleep some more” or “okay, today’s the day I do something great”).
Move on to what items on your workday’s to-do list to focus on first (“gotta work on that project right now” or “nope, Facebook first”), to what to eat for lunch (“glad I packed a healthy sandwich” or “I still have that Snickers in my purse”), to which friends to interact with and how, to what kind of news you read about on and comment on, to what you think about when you’re caught in traffic and when you walk through that door and see your family…
Every. Little. Thing.
It takes a lot of effort just to maintain that level of consciousness for even a few minutes, let alone an entire day or even several days. But if you do manage to do this, it’s easy to see what you really think of yourself and your life. What—and whom—you give importance to. What beliefs and ideologies you subscribe to. What attitudes you bring into most situations. What makes you happy. What makes you sad. What pisses you off.
And you start to see the connections between your many, apparently unrelated self-definitions and the overall picture of your life. It’s been said that the world is a mirror, reflecting exactly who you are, not who you claim or were told to be. I think the world is less straightforward than a mirror. It’s more like a live-action, 3D psychology test, constantly offering nuanced information about your mental, emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual states.
The catch is, you have to do the work. You have to pay attention to the questions. And you have to answer honestly.
And the best thing about the quote? If you don’t like the answers you’re getting, you can change your answers. First, decide who you would like to be. Second, actually act as if you’re already that person you’d like to be.
In every single decision. Every. Single. One. From the moment you wake up and you decide what to first think about…to what work to focus on for the day…to how your treat your body, mind and heart…to how you interact with the world…and so on and so forth.
Yes, it takes work. I’m just starting to realize how much work it actually takes. But the rewards are immeasurable. I’ve realized what my actual values are, as opposed to the values I claim to stand for just so I could seem like a better person in the eyes of the crowd. I’ve started to notice what things make me truly happy. I’ve started to question some of my beliefs, beginning with the rather radical challenge: “Do I actually need for this belief to be true for my life to work, or will something else work even better?”
I still haven’t gotten there yet, but I can already see one of the best rewards for doing this: You get to be real all the time. You’re not putting up a façade anymore. You’re not bending over backward to please people, because you’re too busy choosing to be the best you you can be. You’ve decided to be honest and true to yourself, and you’re putting your money where your mouth is. You’ve got nothing to hide, no lies to defend, no masks to maintain, and nothing to be ashamed of.
Authenticity, clearly, is its own reward. And so is becoming the best me I can imagine.