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Why Are Authentic People Happier?

Three reasons why authenticity leads to happiness.

In 2014, researchers at Louisiana Tech University published an important study in which data were collected from college students about their levels of authenticity and life satisfaction. Their results showed that those who showed greater authenticity were more satisfied months later with their lives.

This and other similar evidence points to the conclusion that authenticity is a way of being that leads to happiness.

There are three main reasons for why this might be:

First, the more authentic you are the more likely you will be to be following your own path in life, whatever that is. You will be doing what feels most natural for you, developing your interests, and cultivating your curiosity. In turn, you become highly skilled and expert at what you do. It might be that it is what you do in your leisure that gives you this sense of following your own path, or perhaps you have managed to find a way of earning your living that achieves this. Either way, as you pursue your own passions in life you develop your sense of competence.

Second, the more authentic you are, the more able you are to withstand the pressures from other people around you to be the person they want you to be, rather than who you are. You will be free to be yourself, to understand your motivations and goals in life. You will better understand what makes you tick and be able to trust yourself to make decisions. The authentic person values their autonomy.

Third, authentic people will have deeper and more meaningful relationships with others. Less willing to spend their valuable time in relationships with people who don’t care about them, or have their best interests in mind, authentic people seek out relationships in which they can more freely be themselves. You want to be appreciated and valued for who you are, not for who someone else wants you to be. And, in turn, you want to be able to offer the same genuine relationship to others.

In these three ways, the authentic person is able to live a more flourishing life.

Learning to live authentically is important to a happy life, so spend time thinking about what that means for you.

Do you feel that you are following your own path in life? Do you feel to be yourself and express your views and opinions? Do you feel that in your relationships you are cared for and valued? If you said no to any of these questions, it might be that you are living a life less true to yourself than you would like. People can decide to live a more authentic life, but it can take time to really change, to step away from old habits and ways of thinking, to begin to get to know yourself deeply, and to learn to trust yourself and your own directions in life. It can be a long journey but like the old Chinese proverb says, "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now."

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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.

Joseph, S. (2016). Authentic. How to be yourself and why it matters. Piatkus. London.

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