I belong to the people I love, and they
belong to me-- they, and the love
and loyalty I give them, form my identity
far more than any word or group ever could.

Veronica Roth


But by identities and integrity I do not mean only our noble features, or the good deeds we do, or the brave faces we wear to conceal our confusions and complexities.  Identity and integrity have as much to do with our shadows and limits, or wounds and fears, as with our strengths and potentials.

Parker J. Palmer
The Courage to Teach

He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.

Gabriel García Márquez
Love in the Time of Cholera

You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity.  At some time, every creature which lives must do so.  It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe.

Philip K. Dick
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

If you try to view yourself through the lenses that others offer you, all you will see are distortions; your own light and beauty will become blurred, awkward, and ugly. Your sense of inner beauty has to remain a very private thing.

John O'Donohue
Anam Cara


Never be bullied into silence.  Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
Accept no one's definition of your life, but define yourself.

Harvey Fierstein


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I am a person before I am anything else.  I never say I am a writer
I never say I am an artist. . . I am a person who does those things.

Edward Gorey


We can spend our lives letting the world tell us who we are.
Sane or insane.  Saints or sex addicts.  Heroes or victims.
Letting history tell us how good or bad we are.  Letting our
past decide our future.  Or we can decide for ourselves.  And
maybe it's our job to invent something better.

Chuck Palahniuk


Most people are other people.  Their thoughts are someone else's
opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.

Oscar Wilde


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It is easier to live through someone else than to complete yourself.  The
freedom to lead and plan your own life is frightening if you have never
faced it before.  It is frightening when a woman finally realizes that there
is no answer to the question "who am I" except the voice inside herself.

Betty Friedan

I feel with some passion that what we truly are is private, and almost infinitely
complex, and ambiguous, and both external and internal, and double- or triple-
or multiply natured, and largely mysterious even to ourselves; and furthermore
that what we are is only part of us, because identity, unlike "identity," must
include what we do.  And I think that to find oneself and every aspect of this
complexity reduced in the public mind to one property that apparently
subsumes all the rest ("gay," "black, "Muslim," whatever) is to be the
victim of a piece of extraordinary intellectual vulgarity.

Philip Pullman


She might be without country, without nation, but inside her there
was still a being that could exist and be free, that could simply say
I am without adding a this, or a that, without saying I am Indian,
Guyanese, English, or anything else in the world.

Sharon Maas
Of Marriageable Age


Sometimes we fight who we are, struggling against ourselves and our
natures.  But we must learn to accept who we are and appreciate who
we become.  We must love ourselves for what and
who we are, and believe in our talents.

Harley King

First of all, although people have a common destiny, each individual also has
to work out his or her own personal salvation for oneself in fear and trembling.
We can help one another to find the meaning of life, no doubt.  But in the last
analysis, the individual person is responsible for living his or her own life and
for "finding him- or herself."  If we persist in shifting our responsibility to
somebody else, we fail to find out the meaning of our own existence.  You
cannot tell me who I am and I cannot tell you who you are.  If you do not
know your own identity, who is going to identify you?

Thomas Merton


Not only is there often a right and wrong, but what goes around does
come around, Karma exists, chickens do come home to roost, and
as my mother, Phyllis, liked to say, “There is always a day of reckoning.”
The good among the great understand that every choice we make adds to
the strength or weakness of our spirits—ourselves, or to use an old
fashioned word for the same idea, our souls. That is every human’s life
work: to construct an identity bit by bit, to walk a path step by step,
to live a life that is worthy of something higher, lighter, more
fulfilling, and maybe even everlasting.

Donald Van de Mark
The Good Among the Great



Most of us are not raised to actively encounter our destiny.  We may not
know that we have one.  As children, we are seldom told we have a place
in life that is uniquely ours alone.  Instead, we are encouraged to believe
that our life should somehow fulfill the expectations of others, that we will
(or should) find our satisfactions as they have found theirs.  Rather than
being taught to ask ourselves who we are, we are schooled to ask others.
We are, in effect, trained to listen to others' versions of ourselves.  We are
brought up in our life as told to us by someone else!  When we survey our
lives, seeking to fulfill our creativity, we often see we had a dream that went
glimmering because we believed, and those around us believed, that the
dream was beyond our reach.  Many of us would have been, or at least might
have been, done, tried something, if. . . If we had known who we really were.

Julia Cameron

My wish simply is to live my life as fully as I can.  In both our work and
our leisure, I think, we should be so employed.  And in our time this means
that we must save ourselves from the products that we are
asked to buy in order, ultimately, to replace ourselves.

Wendell Berry
The Art of the Commonplace


Be not another, if you can be yourself.


Many of us are so deeply identified with our ideas that when we
have a competitive encounter, we risk losing more than the debate:
we risk losing our sense of self.

Parker J. Palmer
The Courage to Teach

Who are we but the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, and believe?

Scott Turow
Ordinary Heroes


Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life
is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success,
popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their
seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much
larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in
the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity,
and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap,
however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes
me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself
thinking, "Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody. . . I am no
good. . .  I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and
abandoned." Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life
because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the "Beloved."
Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.

Henri J.M. Nouwen

Define yourself radically as one beloved by God.  This is
the true self.  Every other identity is illusion.

Brennan Manning
Abba's Child


I believe that true identity is found. . . in creative activity springing from
within.  It is found, paradoxically, when one loses oneself.  We can best
refind ourselves by losing ourselves in some kind of creative activity of our own.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh


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Grand theft identity began soon after you arrived on Earth.  Parents,
teachers, siblings, clergy, and authority figures told you that you are
inept, insignificant, ugly, stupid, unworthy, and sinful, and that the world
is a dangerous jungle with threats at every turn.  Over time you began to
believe these terrible lies, until the day came when you forgot your innate
beauty, strength, innocence, and safety.  Eventually you adopted an identity
contrary to your divine nature and have since lived as someone you are not.

Alan Cohen
A Course in Miracles Made Easy

When we are insecure about our own identities, we create settings
that deprive other people of their identities, as a way of buttressing
our own.  This happens all the time in families, where parents who
do not like themselves give their children low self-esteem.  It happens
at work as well:  how often I phone a business or professional office
and hear, "Dr. Jones's office--this is Nancy speaking."

Parker J. Palmer
Let Your Life Speak



Yes, life can be mysterious and confusing--but there's much of life that's actually rather dependable and reliable.  Some principles apply to life in so many different contexts that they can truly be called universal--and learning what they are and how to approach them and use them can teach us some of the most important lessons that we've ever learned.
My doctorate is in Teaching and Learning.  I use it a lot when I teach at school, but I also do my best to apply what I've learned to the life I'm living, and to observe how others live their lives.  What makes them happy or unhappy, stressed or peaceful, selfish or generous, compassionate or arrogant?  In this book, I've done my best to pass on to you what I've learned from people in my life, writers whose works I've read, and stories that I've heard.  Perhaps these principles can be a positive part of your life, too!
Universal Principles of Living Life Fully.  Awareness of these principles can explain a lot and take much of the frustration out of the lives we lead.



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