Why Being Yourself Matters

Research shows that authenticity leads to happiness

Posted Oct 28, 2017

You may have heard that the key to a happy life is authenticity, but surprisingly it is only recently that researchers have actually put this to the test. 

In 2014, Guler Boyraz and colleagues at Louisiana Tech University published an important study in which data were collected from 232 people about their authenticity, life satisfaction and levels of distress at two points in time separated by almost two months. They found that those who showed greater authenticity at the first time point were more satisfied with life and less distressed at the second time point; but distress and satisfaction at the first time point did not predict authenticity at the second time point.  So it does seem likely that authenticity leads to happiness

This is great news if you want to be happier as you can begin to introduce more authenticity into your life.

In an ingenious study published by Yona Kifer and colleagues at Tel Aviv University, participants were assigned randomly to one of two groups. Those in the first group were instructed to recall and write about a situation in which they were authentic:

“Please recall a particular incident in which you felt authentic. By authentic, we mean a situation in which you were true to yourself and experienced yourself as behaving in accordance with your true thoughts, beliefs, personality, or values. Try to relive this situation in your imagination. Please describe this situation in which you felt authentic – what happened, how you felt, etc.”

In contrast, those in the second group were instructed to recall and write about a situation in which they were inauthentic:

“Please recall a particular incident in which you felt inauthentic. By inauthentic, we mean a situation in which you were not true to yourself and experienced yourself as not behaving in accordance with your true thoughts, beliefs, personality, or values. Try to relive this situation in your imagination. Please describe this situation in which you felt inauthentic – what happened, how you felt, etc.”

Immediately after doing this, participants completed a test of happiness related specifically to how they were feeling at the present time. Remarkably, those in the first group who were simply asked to recall being authentic were happier than those in the second group who were asked to recall inauthenticity.

Try putting the above experiment into practice for yourself. Think about a situation in which you were true to yourself and experienced yourself as behaving in accordance with your true thoughts, beliefs, personality or values.  Take your time over this. Think about what you were doing, who you were with, and what you were feeling.

Importantly you may find that you want to build more authenticity in your day to day life.

Find out more about how to do this in my new book, Authentic. How to be yourself and why it matters  http://www.authenticityformula.com/

References

Boyraz, G., Waits. J.B. and Felix, V.A. (2014). Authenticity, life satisfaction and distress: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 61, 498–505.

Kifer, Y., Heller, D., Perunovic, W.Q.E. and Galinsky, A.D. (2013). The good life of the powerful: The experience of power and authenticity enhances subjective well-being. Psychological Science: Research, Theory, and Application in Psychology and Related Sciences, 24, 280–8