Book Review – Authentic

Book Review – Authentic

Authentic – How to be yourself and why it matters by Professor Stephen Joseph

Know yourself + Own yourself + Be yourself = the Authentic Life

This is the formula Stephen Joseph says we need to follow for an authentic life – where what we say and do reflects what we truly think and feel.  In a time where social media is king and putting on a front is a way of life, this is a stark contrast to the way the western world is experiencing life currently but a wake-up call is needed in my opinion!

Ok, so what’s the deal with that?  What’s the cost of living an inauthentic life, a life pushing for material greatness and keeping up with the Jones’s?  Mental distress opening a range of ‘disorders’ from anxiety to depression and physical tension held within our bodies, oftentimes we then numb these feelings with alcohol, drugs, gambling, shopping, eating, likes on social media, searching for our next fix and becoming utterly unhappy as a result.

I adore this book, as soon as I read the first chapter I was shouting to all my counselling colleagues about it, calling it ‘Person-Centred gold dust’ and that Stephen Joseph explains the Person-Centred Approach better than Carl Rogers (founder of PCA).  It resonated with me because as a Person-Centred counsellor, one of our core conditions for therapy to work is ‘congruence’ which is essentially being genuine in the relationship with the client and for that genuineness to be experienced by the client as well.

It is an absolute joy to read, not written in academic talk but easily accessible for everyone which I love.  The book has exercises at the end of each chapter to think about and reflect on, to help you along the journey with that authenticity formula.  There are also case study examples throughout.  But my favourite section was the part where SJ talks about 2 types of happiness, spanning back to Greek philosophy:

  1. Hedonia – Belief that pleasure is the highest good, seek pleasure and avoid pain – through sex, wealth, status and so on.  This SJ says is infallible as it leads to a life bereft of meaning and lacking depth.
  2. Eudaimonia – Meaning ‘good spirit’, belief that living in accordance with one’s character and virtue leads to a good life, basically the pursuit of fulfilling our potential.  Maslow refers to it as ‘self-actualisation’.

Going back to the example of social media and the inauthentic appearance we portray to the world is an example of Hedonist way of living – seeking pleasure, be it with popularity and likes, this has the opposite effect on us and causes emotional distress which can manifest into the body for physical illness as well.  I believe everything is at stake when it comes to being our authentic self and by taking steps to follow the formula of knowing yourself, owning yourself, and being yourself then we can lead a good, happy life.


Joseph, S (2016), Authentic – How to be yourself and why it matters, Piatkis: LONDON

Counselling for a good day