Is this the authentic painting of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci? Most of you who know a little about art will recognise that it is not. Apparently it was painted by one of his pupils, but of the same woman. We can all change our outward looks depending on our hairstyle, our physical health etc. But how often do we put on a virtual mask to disguise ourselves, because we maybe don’t want others to know what we’re really like? It is very easy to think of people we know who come across as fake or phony, but not so easy to think of people who are authentic all the time. For example we may have to put on a mask at work, but if we’re not careful, we may find that putting on a mask too often will have a detrimental effect on our mental health.
Professor Stephen Joseph, in his book “Authentic: How to be yourself and why it matters” talks about the authenticity formula; where to be authentic means knowing yourself and then owning yourself and then being yourself. All of these can be difficult and sometimes people who are not authentic have a problem with people who are. However it is not a state of mind that we achieve one happy day; instead it is a constant process that goes on throughout our lives.