"Surely it would make you happier just to be yourself. Why fight to be accepted by people you don't actually want to be with?" - Tristan Thorn, Stardust

Have you ever found yourself struggling to be part of a crowd you did not even really want to be with?

In today's image-based, status-quo society, it is easy to compromise who we truly are for counterfeits that promise happiness but deliver emptiness. In fact, we can get so immersed in trying to "keep up with the Jones'," be what our parents have always wanted us to be or take on the personality of "so and so," that we lose the essence of who we really are and what we really want.

All of life then becomes a constant treadmill of never measuring up, yet diligently running in earnest to get to some illusive point of acceptance. Only when we arrive at our desired destination do we realize that what we have so passionately and single-heartedly pursued for so long has failed us in providing the happiness, fulfillment, and life we thought it would give us. The only result it yields is confusion, frustration and a complicated existence. But life was never meant to be that way.

Chinese thinker and social philosopher, Confusius, said "Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated." How true that is. We complicate our lives by taking the childlike simplicity of knowing who we really are and doing what we really love, and replacing it with something as shallow as trying to "fit-in." Yet, the happiness, fulfillment, and peace we crave can only be found in expressing our uniqueness.

But how do we do that? How do we break free from our "need" for acceptance and stand up for what we truly believe? How do we express our uniqueness and get happy with just being ourselves?

The answer lies in clarifying two important questions for ourselves.

First, it is important that we know who we really are. What is it that makes us unique? What do we value? Who are we...really? The best way to identify this for ourselves is to make a list of core values.

Core values are also often referred to as governing principles. These are the personal principles we truly want to live by. When we adhere to and apply these principles they will yield the most fulfilling fruit from our labour.

The reason it is important to have a list of core values is because our emotions fluctuate from day to day, situations arise, and stuff happens and all too often, what we value most fluctuates along with whatever is going on around us. This is ultimately what leads to an unfulfilled life. Staying true to our core values, despite our outer circumstances is ultimately what will keep us on track to being who we truly are.

The 2nd important question we need to ask ourselves is who do we really want to spend time with. If there is a certain "group" of people you want to be with, identify that group.

We can spend our entire lives trying to gain the approval of people we don't even like. In fact, we can get so busy trying to please "them" that we entirely forget that at our core, we could care less about pleasing "them." So, we have to ask ourselves, who is it that we really want to spend time with.

Maybe it is our family. Maybe it is people that are positive instead of negative. Maybe it is people that inspire and motivate us to be better rather than those that bring us down. Who is it? Identify them.

When we have answered this question for ourselves and live it, we respect who we really are enough to not be ruled by "them." Instead, we take control and shape our lives in relation to our core values. By taking this initiative, we ensure our own success and we claim responsibility for our own happiness.

Author's Bio: 

(c) 2008 Barb Elyett. Barb Elyett is a Canadian Singer/Songwriter, Recording Artist, Speaker, Author and President and Founder of Aleta Records. Her articles have been published extensively on and offline, and have impacted people all over the world in a positive way. Barb's new album, The Simple Side, has recently been released and is receiving wonderful reviews from its listeners. The album continues to be promoted throughout North America and abroad. Sign up for Barb's FREE So Alive Inside newsletter at www.barbelyett.com. You'll be glad you did!