KEW Episode 67: Authenticity

Definition of authentic (Taken from Merriam-Webster)

1 a: worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact paints an authentic picture of our society

b: conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features an authentic reproduction of a colonial farmhouse

c: made or done the same way as an original authentic Mexican fare

2: not false or imitationREALACTUALan authentic cockney accent

3: true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character is sincere and authentic with no pretensions

4 aof a church mode ranging upward from the keynote— compare PLAGAL sense 1

b of a cadence progressing from the dominant chord to the tonic— compare PLAGAL sense 2

5 obsolete AUTHORITATIVE

Geeze, that’s thorough, eh? But let me summarize:

Factual

Same or similar

Real

True

Sincere (like a pumpkin patch)

So, yeah, something real, or representative of something real. But most interesting is that many of these depict a thing REPRESENTING another thing. And that RESEMBLANCE is either good (authentic, real, conforming, true) or not (not authentic, fake, different, false). And remember, a dictionary is book of what we THINK words mean, not what they necessarily mean.

In the context of the Are vs Should Problem, authenticity is behaving in the world the way you feel/want/believe you behave in your head.

On the surface, this may seem like it means you must live in your Are to be authentic. I don’t believe this is true, however.

I think we all exhibit a certain amount of Shoulds throughout our lives, no matter how hard we try not to. We are going to slip. We are human.

The goal is not to live 100% Are and 0% Should, it’s to do the best you can. I don’t see any other way around it. We always build in an error term. A human error term. Which provides a degree of . . . . missing the mark. Failing. Being Inauthentic. It’s ok!

So there’s two points in this Episode, really. One is that the Are is your Authentic Self, and we have been discussing authenticity for the past twenty or so episodes – to point out and use the common vernacular. And the second point is that we are not trying to be 100% perfect, or 100% anything. The utility of a concept like authenticity is as a target to aim for, not something to become.

Much more in this Episode, available as a direct podcast download here:

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KEW Episode 54: The Bully and your DNA: Part 1

Last week I introduced a few examples of the Are vs. Should problem. One of the most obvious examples comes up when we think about our careers. When we’re young people ask us what we want to be when we grow up. As adults, many of us wonder what became of those childhood dreams when we find ourselves doing jobs we don’t like. And I’ll argue it’s because we listen more to our Shoulds than to our Ares.

And this isn’t to say that Shoulds are all bad, because I think their intent is honorable. Our shoulds are single-minded in trying to keep us safe. As with our choice of career, the Should wants us to make enough money to take care of ourselves and to ‘be happy’. Unfortunately, the Should is a mosaic of all of the ‘responsible’ voices in our lives telling us what to do, how to think. and how to act in life in an effort to ‘be happy’.

The problem is, the Should isn’t YOU, and it doesn’t really understand what YOU want. The Should wants what ‘the world’ wants. What your teachers, parents, family, friends, and other close relationships want. The Should is modified by the tv we watch and the articles we read on the internet. The Should is deigned to keep the Are at bay, and to push this common agenda at all costs. I’ll talk more about the Are in Part 2 of this miniseries, but for now let’s just say your Are represents the ‘real you’ or your ‘true self’. Or something like that – whereas the Should is partly you, but is comprised of all the voices you hear everyday.

Historically, I think humans connected more with the ‘real you’, or ‘true self’. In other words, we used to listen to the Are more. The emerging problem is, we see a lot of Should in the world today. I’d say more and more people are spending more and more time in their Should than in years past, and humans are losing their Ares in the process.

I think a result of this increasing Should phenomenon is that the Should has become a bully. Rather than being just one of your many parts, the Bully has become the loudest, most feared, and threatening ally in our head. Due to the peaceful nature of our Are, the Should now represents the antithesis to the ‘real you’. The Should berates us, exaggerates reality, and will do anything to keep you from listening to your other parts. But it’s not only that the Should’s voice is becoming louder, it is becoming more and more stifling and homogenous.

The onset of social media, the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), and the idea that everyone else is more perfect than you further strengthens our Shoulds. Now our Should aims even higher. To perfection, even, making it impossible to get even close to achieving what the Should would tell us to achieve. To the point where many therapists and counselors suggest we don’t use Should statements at all because this line of thinking sets us up for failure, depression, anxiety, and frustration.

So somehow this Should part of our ‘self’ has gotten way out of hand. The should is taking over who we imagine ourselves to be and creating anxiety, depression, and frustration. It is time to regain control of the voices in our heads by realizing there is a dictator in charge that needs to be checked. And one of the easiest ways to do this is to reconnect with, and listen to, your Are.

Next week I’ll talk about the Are and why it is critical to rediscover yours.

To hear more about the Should side of your self, listen or watch the full Episodes below.

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KEW Episode 52: ‘Hard’ and ‘Soft’ Realities

As we pursue the “Are vs. Should Problem” and examine our personal inventory, I want to describe two main ways we can understand our selves and the realities we live in.

First, there is the measurable world. The ‘Hard’ world where science reigns supreme. Things are measurable, quantifiable, and therefore fit into the well oiled scientific machinery. Problems stemming from economics, medicine, and food supply are easily boiled down into testable hypotheses and theories used to derive definitive results. Other minds have described hard problems as being those containing subjects comprised of matter (as opposed to ideas, for example).

Is the economy going to tank? Well, the data on this and that support a trajectory that suggests no.

Will this medicine prevent a global pandemic? It is 98% effective at preventing disease and 90% of the population is vaccinated so yes!

Is this years corn crop enough to supply North America for the winter? Yes, ten billion metric tonnes of corn will feed 200 million people (I completely made up those numbers, but you get the point)

So science is pretty darned good at answering certain questions. About things that we can OBSERVE and MEASURE.

EVERYTHING ELSE is a ‘SOFT’ problem defined by a soft reality. EVERYTHING ELSE.

My point in this episode is that VERY FEW items in our personal inventory are going to fit into the HARD reality. And, unfortunately, scientists (and other professionals who get paid to think) spend most of their time on HARD problems because, well, because they have to. The hard tools don’t work as well on the soft realities. BUT THEY CAN WORK!

And so, as part of our assessment of our personal inventory, as part of the process of weeding out the needs, the wants, and the don’t-really-need-so-muches, we have to develop a new skill set.

One way to understand the soft problems, is simply to borrow the scientific tools used for hard problems. Einstein, and others, called these ‘thought experiments’. There’s no reason we can’t follow the scientific approach to ask questions about soft realities, we just can’t draw the same conclusions because not everything can be boiled down to numbers.

And that may be another way to understand the difference. Hard reality problems can be boiled down to a set of numbers that represent the reality: The average person has 10,000 thoughts a day. Whereas the soft reality problem can’t be measured like that: The average person worries about death and being unloved as they age. Worry, fear, sadness. How do you measure those things? And, if you could, why would you? What we want and need with soft problems is simply a better understanding of the realities across people. Science isn’t a good tool to go about understanding this. Our minds, however, are excellent tools to solve these problems – we just have to normalize this however we can once we find a system that works.

And, really, we probably have lots of Unscientific approaches that work – we just treat them differently from science because, well, they aren’t science. Next week I’ll go in to a bit more detail with examples.

Full podcast audio download here: https://pdcn.co/e/https://chtbl.com/track/CGDA9D/www.buzzsprout.com/530563/8777439-kew-episode-52-hard-and-soft-realities.mp3?download=true

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