People think of happiness as having. Have house, have car, have money, have power. But happiness is actually not having. No worries, No disease, No disaster. Many people don’t see having is actually for others to see. Not having, that’s for yourself.
Find yourself: Philosophically, identity is born out of details pertaining to the same identity and descriptions of details pertaining to the same identity. What this means is that your identity is formed out of what exists. If you were never born and you never existed, then you have no identity. If you’re born, then all the details associated with your birth are now a part of your identity. As you grow up, you have life experiences which add more details to your identity. As you interact with others, you generate more details and descriptions of details, all of which comprise your identity. That was a long winded way of saying you create your identity by having details, and you have details by living life. If you stay at home all day and do nothing, or every day you do precisely the exact same routine, then your identity is unchanging. It is only when you add a detail that you grow your identity. If you find that you don’t have an identity, it means you haven’t accumulated enough details yet, so go out and live life: that’s how you find out who you are. (Dangerous cycle: depression -> doing nothing -> actually having no life -> feeling like no life -> depression.)
When you start, all experiences may seem foreign to you: it is difficult to distinguish between when you are acting according to what everyone else is doing, and when you are expressing yourself. When you try something new, you can either give yourself fully to the activity and act exactly as everyone else expects you to act, so that you can get the full experience of what that kind of identity is like, or you can restrain yourself to different degrees of what you are comfortable with doing. Anything works.
When you reflect upon your own life and it’s details, that’s how you come to understand who you are. As you look back, you’ll see where you were willing to compromise, and where you stood your ground: those locations define who you are.
When you try to change and influence your future behavior, that’s how you construct who you are. (The Habits You Will Form in Life)
What do you bring to the table? This is typically an uncomfortable thing to think about or discuss, but at the end of the day you are always bringing something to the table, whether intentionally or not, and you should be aware of what you’re bringing. Be comprehensive in your answer to this question: include both the good and the bad. (One thing to watch out for is leeching: try to give more than you take when possible).
Who am I to others? This is one of the most important skills to have, and one of the most difficult skills to learn. This is important because you are rarely who you think you are to others–you might think you are being nice, but other people might think you’re mean due to differences in values, interpretation, perception, etc. One way to get an idea of who you are to others is to ask for honest [anonymous] feedback. Another way is to replay your interactions with others, and imagine what you would think if you saw yourself behaving and acting the way you did. (Explaining may sound like complaining, constructive criticism may sound like insults, etc.)
Responsibility. Always take responsibility for what you can. You are responsible for who you are, you are not responsible for how people react to who you are, but you should take their feedback into consideration. I used to think people didn’t like me because they were bad people, but when I become more self aware, I realized I was being a bad person without knowing I was. Turns out people had legitimate reasons not to like me. Don’t blame others, take responsibility. If people react unexpectedly to something you do, either you don’t understand that person well enough to predict how they will respond, or you are not presenting yourself in the way that you think you are.
Don’t Be Self-Centered. While you should take responsibility for yourself, don’t go too far: if someone acts differently towards you, don’t be so quick to immediately blame yourself. People have lives outside of their interactions with you, so avoid falling into self blame, guilt, etc. Instead, emphasize with them by trying to see things from their point of view–what might be going on to cause them to act differently. Maybe when they made a face when they saw you, they just ate something sour, rather than they really don’t like you. (Read Nature of Your Own Identity)