The decision was not easy, but now it feels so right and I will never regret
it. No phony baloney, this
is an authentic choice.
- Genuine, originating from within.
Authenticity refers to the truthfulness of origins, attributions,
commitments, sincerity, devotion, and intentions. An authentic choice is a
decision congruent with
doing your best.
The words authentic, genuine, real, and veritable all describe actual rather
than false or misrepresentation. Other synonyms include accurate, actual,
certain, dependable, factual, faithful, genuine, original, pure, reliable, sure,
true, trustworthy, trusty, and valid.
Opposites include bogus, counterfeit, fake, and phony. Superficial describes
a lack of depth or substance.
Objects, efforts, and decisions can be authentic, as these examples
Violins built by Antonio
Stradivari, especially those built between 1698 and
1720, are exceptionally valuable. These instruments are famous for the quality
of their sound. There have been many failed attempts to explain and reproduce
the sound quality. Each of these unique instruments is highly treasured and is
typically valued at more than one million dollars.
These unique instruments are authentic; they have genuine enduring value.
Gutenberg bibles, the Mona Lisa, Stradivari Violins, and the Wright brother's
first airplane are all examples of authentic objects.
During the 1925 serum run to Nome, Alaska 20 mushers and about 150 sled dogs
relayed diphtheria antitoxin 674 miles by dog sled through winter storms across
the U.S. territory of Alaska in a record-breaking five and a half days, saving
the small city of Nome and the surrounding communities from a developing
epidemic. This authentic effort by health care agencies, mushers, sled dogs, and
many others is commemorated in the the grueling
Trail Sled Dog Race.
Real estate developer Bobby Ginn set aside about 120 acres—up to $40 million
worth of home sites—in his housing community in Port St. Lucie, Florida when
bald eagles were discovered nesting there. The land is now preserved as nature
in perpetuity by a conservation easement he donated. He has partnered with
Audubon of Florida to protect the eagles, and is paying for outreach and
monitoring programs out of his own pocket. He recognized that bald eagles are
unique and irreplaceable and made the authentic choice to preserve them rather
than build more houses.
Several characteristics separate the authentic from the counterfeit, bogus, and phony. These include:
- True; Fully trustworthy as according with fact. This
includes being representative of the larger context, relevant to the matters
in hand, transparent and straightforward, and logically valid conclusions and inferences.
- Original, not a substitute. Actually and exactly what is claimed.
Originating from within.
- Congruence; agreement, harmony, fit, integration, alignment, consistency, as described.
- Depth, the closer it is examined the better in looks, more intricate,
more subtle, more detailed, more elegant, more interesting.
As a result authentic items often hold a unique and enduring value that
often increases as time goes on.
Authentic choices include these important additional human characteristics:
- Authentic feelings. Because emotions are an intrinsic part of human
nature, to be true and congruent, authentic choices acknowledge our true
feelings. Embrace passion.
- Symmetry; apparent balance. Acknowledging the
dignity of each person
requires the equal treatment that can only come from a symmetrical view of
the world. This begins with establishing peer relationships rather than
power-based relationships. It extends to include empathy, dialogue, respect,
reciprocity, and the responsibility to accept blame, apologize, and forgive.
Lack of balance often indicates contrived and phony constructs.
- Doing your best. Anything less does not fully represent the
true you. Give your authentic effort.
Authentic often unfolds as a profound simplicity is revealed. This is a rich
and elegant simplicity that suddenly unifies and strengthens what appeared to be
disparate, complex, divergent, inconsistent, convoluted, and chaotic. This authentic simplicity is not
shallow, superficial, or simplistic; it is the essential core. So much falls into
place and feels right. The authentic
alternatives described below provide several examples.
What are the authentic alternatives available to us? How can we distinguish
authentic from phony?
Wise, not Foolish, Gullible, or Obstinate
Wise, thoughtful, and deliberate decisions and well-chosen beliefs are more
authentic than the foolish decisions made by gullible people. Inquisitive and
prudent people use a robust theory of knowledge to
choose their beliefs. They are vigilant, scrupulous,
meticulous, and diligent. As the issue is investigated more deeply, more
evidence supporting it is uncovered.
Foolish people are gullible, they fall for anything, and these suckers are
easily duped. Obstinate people are unreasonably stubborn. They dismiss or distort
contradicts their arbitrarily chosen beliefs and viewpoint. Self-justification
is more important to them than evidence. More through investigation eventually reveals
inconsistencies and errors.
Beliefs, not Assumptions
Beliefs are well founded and based on well-researched and representative
evidence. Firm beliefs are authentic, enduring, accurate and helpful. They have
endured and been refined by the challenges of skepticism. An assumption is an unfounded
belief. Assumptions are unchallenged, unquestioned, unexamined, and very often
untrue. Choose evidence over assumption, rumor, innuendo, or speculation.
Valid, not Invalid
provides rules for drawing valid conclusions from particular
premises. The accuracy of the conclusion depends on both the factual accuracy of
the premises and the validity of the logic used to draw the conclusion. Inductive logic provides rules for estimating the probability of
general conclusions drawn from particular evidence. All other conclusions are invalid
and are based on one or more of a vast number of common logical
to distinguish valid conclusions from invalid conclusions. Only valid conclusions are
authentic, the invalid conclusions are bogus.
Purposeful, not Aimless
People don't look back over their lives and think “I just wish I had spent
more time at the office.” What is important to you? How do you plan to spend your life? What
have you chosen? What goals are you pursuing? What is
guiding you? Treat every living moment as precious
and spend it wisely and deliberately in meaningful ways, including a balance of time spent: working, relaxing,
contemplating, learning, exploring, playing, visiting, bonding, celebrating,
planning, reflecting, helping, accepting help, dialoging,
walking, exercising, sleeping, and dreaming. Don't waste time drifting among
pointless, meaningless, haphazard, or destructive activities. Live deliberately.
Candor, not Deception
Express yourself authentically, don't deceive. Practice
candor and reject decrees, insults, blather, cryptic
exchanges, dry and boring words, and lies.
Trust, not Manipulation
Be reliable. Say what you mean, and do what you say. Become trustworthy and
extend trust to others consistent with grace and good judgment.
Avoid manipulations—actions taken prior to gaining trust where you try to
control others without revealing your intent.
Needs, not Wants
Needs are few, simple, often attainable, and richly satisfying. Wants and
desires are ever increasing, unbounded, often unsatisfying, and move constantly
out of reach. Attain all your needs before pursing your
infinite wants. Avoid the greed that leads to endlessly chasing insatiable wants
and desires. Reject the insatiable tyranny of more. Instead, appreciate the many aspects of progress
that don't rely on growth. There can be more to life than more; know when you
Gratification, not only Hedonism
Gratification is that deeply satisfying combination of pride and
pleasure that only results from hard work and meaningful
accomplishment. Hedonism is the momentary pleasure resulting from various
pleasant indulgences. Gratification is difficult, and worth the effort. Hedonism
is easier. Balance gratification and hedonism in your life.
Nimble, not Stubborn or Helpless
Know what you can change and accept what you cannot
change. Don't stubbornly waste time and energy on futile efforts trying to change what you cannot.
Be nimble and change what you can to live consistently with your well-chosen
values and goals. Don't be
helpless when you can take steps to improve. Don't
overreact, don't under react.
Thou, not It
Recognize the full richness and extent of the humanity we all share. Respect
humanity. Recognize the dignity—the intrinsic humanity
and worth of yourself and all others. Each of us
deserves to be respected and treated as thou—a fellow human being. No one deserves the
dehumanization and disrespect of being treated as it—an object.
Inclusion, not Exclusion
Measure yourself by who you include, not by who you exclude. Our
similarities greatly outweigh our differences.
and empathy over hate.
Collegial, not Combative
Intrinsic, not Extrinsic motives
Intrinsic motives reflect our most authentic
decisions. Exercise autonomy, dismiss introjected regulations, and choose
carefully among the extrinsic
motives available. Let thoughts, beliefs, words, and actions originate
within and be true and secure enough to resist destructive external pressures. The result is a genuine, quiet, deep, vitalizing,
serene, and lasting fulfillment and confidence without anxiety, self-doubt,
or other sources of stress.
Responsible, not Negligent
Confront, don't Ignore problems
Problems exist whether or not we face up to them. You cannot change what you
do not acknowledge. Identify the problems that create obstacles to your
constructive pursuits and important relationships. Explore and analyze the
essential elements of the most salient problems. Confront those problems by
identifying them, defining them, analyzing them, and creating constructive
solutions. Take action to confront and transcend conflict,
don't ignore problems or deny facts.
Stature, not Status
Achievement, not Rivalry
What you do is important. Comparison to others is not important.
Humility, not Arrogance
Significant and Consequential, not Trivial
Significance, not Obedience
Positive, permanent, and pervasive.
Nuanced, not Simplistic
Adult, not adolescent
Deliberate, not Impulsive
Think, don't just react.
Sober, not Impaired
Focus, not Multitasking
Symmetrical, not Unbalanced Alternatives
To overcome the inherent asymmetry of our
first-person viewpoint, we must encourage these
structures in our relationships. Symmetry is
the essence of treating others as our equals.
Empathy, not Apathy
Empathy is the first consequence of symmetry; it is
the profound recognition that I could be you and you could be me. It is the other awareness that is symmetrical with
self-awareness. Empathy is the basis of caring and
the opposite of apathy—a lack of interest or concern.
Dialogue, not Dogma
Of the many forms of communications,
dialogue is the only symmetrical one. In dialogue we
are thinking together, meaning flows freely, and we are learning from the
symmetrical contributions and consideration. Dialogue is a form of conversation that is distinct from discussion, debate, distraction, dismissal,
delegation, disingenuous, diatribe, and dogma because dialogue is the only form
of communication where the participants act as authentic peers. All
other forms of communication emphasize a
power relationship that interferes with the synthesis,
and interweaving of ideas that characterize dialogue. Dialogue is driven by
genuine curiosity and respect rather than by power.
Respect, not Insult
Dignity, not Humiliation
Responsible, not Negligent
Peer, not Power
Reciprocate, don't Exploit
Truth and Reconciliation, not Vendettas.
- “As simple as possible, but no simpler.” ~ Albert Einstein
- “We find beauty in something done well.” ~ Denis Dutton
How complexity leads to simplicity, by Eric Berlow, TED Talk,