Three Words To Live By

maria shriver
Maria Shriver is the epitomy of grace.

I admire Maria Shriver. She’s had a tough year, but managed to stay dignified and gracious when her life was turned upside down by betrayal. I can empathise to a certain extent, because I was betrayed by The Italian; however, what Maria must have gone through can only be described as a personal hell, made worse because it was played out in the public domain. For a while there, her pain and misery sold many a tabloid newspaper and gossip magazine.

Maria’s appeal – I think – is that she inspires others to live their lives with dignity, grace and empowerment. She might be from one of the most well-known families in the world, but she is all about keeping it real. I noticed on Twitter this week that Maria has created the No. 3 hashtag of 2011 with her inspirational #threewordstoliveby.

And it got me thinking: what are the Three Words That I Live By? I know what my values are, but can I simplify further? Are there three words that truly describe what I am about? That dictate how I should be living my life? What are words that keep me straight and true when my life closely resembles white water?

After some deliberation (and this post has taken a few days to write), here are my Three Words To Live By. Drum roll, please.

1. Courage

My main memory of my childhood was that I was always scared. Scared of saying or doing the wrong thing and incurring my mother’s wrath. Scared of the beatings that happened all too regularly. It makes sense that I now try to live my life with courage: that I speak up when I am afraid or see injustice (my own or others), that I do things where I overcome fear (like travelling overseas alone). I want to be the heroine of my own life. And it’s because I can.

2. Integrity

Integrity, for me, is purely and simply about doing what I said I would do, when I said I would do it. If I promised someone something, I will see it through. I will deliver. If I am unsure, I won’t make any promises. After all, how can you trust me if I don’t do what I said I would? How can we have any sort of friendship or relationship if I don’t do what I say I will? Honesty is integrity’s twin sister; it is impossible to live a life of integrity if truth is an optional extra.

3. Authenticity

One of my favourite sayings (although I rarely say it aloud) is “Just keeping it real”.  I endeavour to present what I am truly about to the world. This blog is part of the that presence, as is my Twitter feed. I feel what I feel, and don’t hide it. I say what I think, without prejudice, but mostly with discretion (there is honesty, then there is brutal honesty). I like that people don’t have to guess what I’m about: it’s obvious. That’s not to say that I put absolutely everything out on the table  all the time (there needs to be some mystery, after all), but mostly people know exactly where they stand with me.

These are three words that I aspire to enact in my day. Most times I hit the mark, but sometimes I don’t (I’m only human, right?). And I know that if I have a conflict with someone it’s usually because (in my opinion, anyway) they consistently lack in integrity, or are cowards, or fake. Maybe that makes me judgemental, but isn’t it better to stand for something?

Give us clear vision, that we may know where to stand and what to stand for – because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.  Peter Marshall, US Senate Chaplain 1947

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