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How to Be Happy: Finding Authenticity

Find your true, authentic self, and you’ll be happy about what you find!

What is the foundation for being beautiful? Think of "being" as existing on three levels, ranging from automatic, instinctual actions to highly developed spiritual and contemplative ones.

Who we are and what we feel represent a highly fluid meshing of multiple forces in all three of the following levels:

Level 1: Automatic being. The most primitive of the levels, this one is essentially categorized by our animal within. When hungry, we eat. When tired, we sleep. Simply, the emotional center in your brain decides how you feel, and your mental motherboard tells you not to overthink. Just act.

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How to Be Happy: Finding Authenticity

Level 2: Educated being. If Level 1 is primal, then Level 2 is cultural or social. We learn how to feel or behave in certain situations and then act accordingly. Much of these actions are based on routines of how we've learned to do things (such as how we drive to work using the same path) and aren't instinctual. Here, our brains take the information we receive, process it for a moment and move on.

Level 3: Authentic being. This third level is what separates man from animal. It involves the uniquely human capacity to enlarge our attention, to contemplate the big picture, and to be open-minded enough to think beyond primal instincts and learned, habitual behaviors. Perhaps the best way to describe this level is through the image of a wheel with a hub and spokes.

Authenticity happens when you can shift your thinking to realize that you’re not the hub in the center of the wheel, but are connected to the center at all times, and the world works together elegantly. You’re just one of many nodes in a highly interconnected world of relationships.

MORE: Introducing a Beautiful Mind

Most of our lives are spent driven by external factors and motivators (striving for a pay raise or promotion) as opposed to intrinsic ones with a higher ideal (a love of the work you do and your purpose).

So to find your true, authentic self and be happy about what you find, you must know how we exist in relationship to other things—specifically to other people and to the world at large. When you break through the instincts and the habits, you break through a level of superficiality that many people typically tend to live with. And that's when you reach a deeper experience in life.

QUIZ: What's Your "Attachment Style"?

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