Who are you?
A perfectly sensible answer would be, “I am me, of course,” it would make my task a lot easier and I could get on with experiencing coffee, which is one of my favorite things. However the answer only means something if you know who the “me” is that you are referring to, which takes us down a rabbit hole rather quickly and if you are here I hope you think that it is always a shame to miss out on an adventure down a rabbit hole when one appears.
I certainly have a sense of self, there is an “I” and there are clearly others, in fact there appears to be over seven billion other “I”s in the world and everyone of them are fully aware of being a self. We get very excited about the rights of self and how we should live a full life of being a self, but no one really defines what the self is. However before we decide how the self should experience life, we should spend time on getting to know who we are, there is after all an endless list of things it would be nice to do, have, be but to know the best use of our time we have to first know who we are so we know the best choices for us.
There are plenty of labels we can throw at the problem and they seem very reassuring to the others who understand them and it is pleasing to be understood and recognized, even if such labels do not cover the whole of who we are. Mother, brother, doctor, runner, writer, carer, there are so many labels that we cling to. Though they are at best approximations, social shorthand of who we are, the labels tell us which team we are playing for, not the kind of players we actually are.
There are other labels that tells a different story, kind, caring, loving, thoughtful, they are a kind of minimum standard of being a fully formed, balanced and mature human being. There is a set of decent behaviors that gain you entry into the club of people who trying to be better. Each are worthy labels to carry about, each is worth working on and aspiring towards. However they are ultimately merit badges, that once you have them are not worth anything in and of themselves, you do not get to show them off and say job done. It is through the journey, the process of being growing beings of consciousness that brings it's own reward, it satisfies the inner self desires, which is the only real desire.
For those who wish to know themselves, considering and valuing the right action based upon those good labels is the place where we truly get to decide who we are. There is no point being a kind person who never actually gets to be kind. We have to listen to our actions, be an impartial witness and decide if those are the actions of the person we want to be, and the closer to the action that witness can be, the greater the chance of acting in that way in the moment.
Which takes awareness and presence in the moment, and that is something that comes with the deliberate practice of mediation and the applying that awareness to ourselves. Some people might start off with a greater self-awareness, though everyone is responsible for how much they then improve. Being a natural at something encourages laziness, undermines deliberate practice and should be watched out for closely.
It is by awareness that we get to experience that the idea that we have then we do and then we be, is not the correct order of how to grow and change. If it was the correct order then it would be impossible to change and yet we tell ourselves that, if I have a healthy and happy body, I will do health and happy things and I will then be a health and happy person. However the opposite is true and that is why we start with question of who are we, and who we are is the sum of the actions we take, which in turn is motivated by our need to be growing beings of consciousness.
We get to decide what we want to be and if you are able to be a thing, then you do a thing and then the having a thing, is the secondary effect of your doing which result from being, a health and happy body is a secondary effect of the change in attitude and behavior. If a healthy and happy person magically gained 100 pounds, would they have to change a thing they were doing or would they carry on doing what they were doing and return to their previous weight?
So how do you change who you are? You gain knowledge of what you should be doing, from people who already are, who you want to be and then you choose to be that person. Maybe not in one go but you can always imagine being a little better, you can visualize it and then do it. A little change when you repeat it every day adds up to big changes. You always have it in your control to choose in this moment to be happy and healthy, and if you think you have to be perfect or you might as well give up, give yourself a break, no one is perfect and the enemy of the good is the perfect.
Instead accept your imperfection, happy and healthy people do eat donuts on the occasions that they want to, they do sleep in and have lazy days when they have low energy, they listen to themselves, they decide their action in any moment and then they do the same a moment later. Which is tiring when you are pretending, but when you are being the best version of you that you want to be, it is easy as it is who they are. They decide to be, and the doing and having come later, but they always follows like a duckling following their mother.
And if you find it difficult to be the best version of yourself for yourself, why not be the best version of yourself for some one else. Stop wanting things for yourself, stop wanting love for yourself, instead of needing to process something, to have love and being ego driven, you can choose to want the feeling of being loved and loving for that person. It means you have to give up on the wanting part of love, but you get the feeling of giving love unconditionally which maybe even better than experiencing coffee, maybe!