Suicide genes. If something like suicide genes exists, there’s a very high probability that I have them. In 1982, one year before I was born, my grandfather on my father’s side managed to shoot himself twice through the heart with a rifle. The doctor was puzzled. How can someone shoot himself through the heart with a rifle, not once, but twice in a row? The doctor concluded: he must really have wanted to die. In 2009, 27 years later (yes, that spooky number made infamous by club 27), my father managed to tie himself up in a very intricate way and suffocated himself in a plastic bag. Again, the doctor arriving at the scene, was puzzled: was he murdered? Again, murder was excluded. He must really have wanted to die. If this family tradition takes hold I should have concocted my own creative exit by the year 2036. For long periods in my relatively short life I’ve been convinced and afraid that I would end up committing suicide. The first time I threatened to commit suicide was when I was four years old, which shocked the living daylights out of my mother. My father’s reaction at the time went unrecorded. I have gone through massive hurt and was often suicidal. Then, finallly, I figured out a way to deal with this and to be happy about what I’m doing and the person I am today.

Luckily there’s a systematic streak in me. I tackled the problem by reading many self-help and psychology books. I also watched documentaries, listened to online lectures and spoke to people I trusted that had wisdom to share. Even though there were years that I wished myself dead almost every single day, I went on the college, graduated with honors and earned a degree in Eastern European languages. I’m fluent in eight languages (not counting those I can’t speak, but am able to read fairly well). I have taught English, French and history in several schools, taught Dutch at a Slovak university, and worked for a newspaper in Brussels for over two years. I’ve had a job as the political officer at the Dutch Embassy in Bratislava, I have written and/or directed a theatre play almost every year since 2006 and found the woman of my dreams. No, in fact, she’s much better than the women in my wildest dreams.

I am not telling you this to brag. I’m telling you this because no matter how hard you hit rock bottom, no matter how dark your thoughts have become, no matter how dissatisfied you are with your present circumstances, there is always a way out.

First you need to find trust. Believe that you can get out of this, and radically improve the quality of your life. Second, you need to be sure about what you do want to do, be and give in life.Third, you need to start looking for opportunities to realize these goals. The opportunities are always there, but when we are depressed we stop looking for them.

That’s what happens when we wallow in depression. We end up settling for the certainty of disaster and in return we are sure to avoid the pain of potential rejection or disappointment. That’s what happens when you settle for constant depression. Yes, there’s a payoff in being depressed- it’s a nasty state of being, but it’s not entirely without its tiny little juicy rewards either. This is because it’s the perfect excuse not to try anymore, to give up, to let life pass you by without owning it anymore and without taking responsibility for it anymore.

This is not the same as saying you are to blame for your depression. Perhaps horrible things have happened to you. Perhaps you need some professional guidance, counseling, therapy or just more sunlight. You don’t have to settle for depression, you can work with it, and you can overcome it. No matter how bleak things might seem, you can identify the problem and look for a solution with an open mind.

Sometimes we have to question our beliefs and adopt new ones before we can continue and evolve. I had to re-evaluate many beliefs I absorbed as an ambitious, yet impressionable child. I grew up in an atmosphere of eternal doom. My dad didn’t believe in God, but he did believe in the law of Murphy: all that could potentially go wrong, was destined to go wrong. The world was doomed, people were wicked, stupid and driven by greed and self-interest. The activities of all these egotistical little individuals together were driving mankind to the edge of the cliff. It was hard to argue with him because he knew a lot about history and read three newspapers a day. He could supply you with virtually unlimited amounts of examples of the destitute condition of humanity. He did it with a relish, he excelled at it. He was a comedian/prophet of doom. Like an even more cynical version of George Carlin. Don’t get me wrong, he was a very loving man, and perhaps a closet case idealist as all cynics are, and we had a lot of fun observing the world go to hell, but it’s not really the sort of attitude that lets you launch a succesful business, a desire I have always had, even in the worst of times. Sure, there are many signs, every day, that humankind is digging its own grave, and history certainly shows how destructive human nature can be and often has been.

Yet it’s equally true that every day we, as humans, have a chance to do better, that there’s a different side to our nature. It’s like the old Indian piece of wisdom goes : there are two wolfs inside each of us One wolf represents evil and the other represents what’s good in our nature. They are locked in a fierce battle to win over our soul. Which of the two wolfs wins? The one you feed. It took me a long time to accept this and shake off my belief that human beings were a rotten species and doomed.

With this diary I hope to ignite that same spark in you. I hope you will find a willingness to question your current belief system, your values, how you operate in life, your blueprint for the future, and your daily actions and habits. Are they really taking you to places you want to be in? You can’t control everything in life, but you can influence how you react to what happens to you. I do believe you can design a life for yourself that you can be fully satisfied with. Perfection, eternal bliss or paradise on earth do not exist, but we can get pretty close to it if we make a commitment to do better. We can do this if we streamline our daily thoughts, actions, hopes and fears and start building our own happiness day by day.

We have come up with this diary, because we don’t want anyone to feel like I have felt for long periods of my life. There were opportunities I missed out on, because I had the wrong mind-set and didn’t know how to look for opportunities. I failed to see to what extent my own attitude was blocking me.

I couldn’t have come up with this diary without the long list of speakers, coaches and authors whose work they often shared freely on YouTube, websites and in their books (a book is so cheap compared to the impact it can have on your life). Thanks to all the people who put themselves out there, who share their wisdom, optimism and dedication to influence others in a positive way.

Most of all I want to thank my wife, the co-author and co-designer of the book you are holding in your hands right now. When I first started using a crude personalized version of this diary, she was the person to notice it had a positive effect on me, even though I didn’t notice this myself and kept up with the diary mainly out of habit. Of course, the fact that I could easily stick to the habit of making this a daily practice, must indicate that it was doing me some good. I kept improving the pages, making them more dense, more compact while at the same time expanding their range and the number of aspects of one’s life they cover. Soon we started noticing my depressive spells got less frequent and were over faster.

Eventually we decided to make the diary and system available to everyone. We decided we couldn’t offer it for sale if we ourselves weren’t 100 percent behind it, so my wife decided she would start using it herself. She’s a very upbeat person with a grounded, stable and optimistic personality. To her own amazement faithfully keeping this authenticity diary had a positive impact on her as well. So you don’t need to be depressed at all for this diary to have a positive effect on you. She soon discovered that she could get more grip on her day. To give you one example: she stopped binge watching television series in her spare time and she’s now more productive than ever before, all day long!

We turned this diary into something anyone can start using. It worked for us and we did all we could to make it easy to use and effective. Since we would never eat at a restaurant run by a cook who wouldn’t touch his own food, we don’t want to offer a product we ourselves would never use. The authenticity diary has become a central part of our lives, and we are not exaggerating if we tell you it has become our stepping-stone to head in the direction we want to go in. To name just one example: in January 2016 we successfully launched our very own independent media house, called Donkichod. Together with a small group of friends we are translating Slovak novels into Dutch and vice versa. The first projects we managed to crowdfund and a couple months later we also got a grant from Slovakia! Even better, organisations have asked us to perform our plays for them. We are now getting paid to perform the plays we write and direct ourselves. The world has a tendency to make room for people who truly know where they are going. That’s what we’ve discovered.

We believe the same can be true for you and we’d love it if you could share your stories, experiences and results as you go along with this journey. We intended it to be a faithful companion that will help you make sense of your path, a tool to cheer you up when the going gets rough, and a daily source of motivation and inspiration. May it work wonders for you as it has worked them for us.

Live an authentic day!