Dale Carnegie identified the number one way to attain a life of peace and happiness as being yourself in all your dealings.
Too often, we try to emulate those around us in an attempt to fit in socially or with a specific group. But if it takes changing the essence of who we are to do it, then is it really worth it in the long run?
In his book, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living,” Carnegie tells the story of Edith Allred of Mount Airy, North Carolina. As a child Edith was extremely sensitive and shy. She was always overweight and had an old-fashioned mother who thought it was foolish to make clothes look pretty, and dressed her accordingly.
When she grew up, Edith married a man several years her senior, but nothing changed. She felt out of place in the presence of her in-laws, who were a poised and self-confident family. Edith withdrew into her shell and became nervous and irritable. She avoided friends and considered herself a failure. Out in public, she laughed and put on an act, hoping her husband wouldn’t find out how truly miserable she was. Eventually she became so unhappy that she contemplated suicide.
But then one day a chance remark from her mother-in-law changed her life. While talking about how she brought her children up, her mother-in-law said, “No matter what happened, I always insisted on their being themselves…”
“On being themselves!” The phrase stuck in Edith’s mind. Suddenly she realized why she was so unhappy—she was trying to be someone she wasn’t.
The transformation began almost instantaneously. Edith made a study of her own personality and tried to find out who she was. She studied her strong points. She learned about colors and styles, and dressed in a way that was becoming of her. She reached out to make friends and joined organizations. And little by little, she gained courage.
It took a long time, but Edith eventually had more happiness than she ever dreamed possible, and brought her own children up with the same lesson she had to learn from such bitter experience: No matter what happens, always be yourself!