When we mention values, most of us think of common, social values like honesty, integrity or loyalty, but there is a much larger list of values that we operate from, usually without conscious thought. Happy people know what their current values are and align their lives with these ideals. If life feels consistently stressful, disconnected or unhappy, we may not be incorporating the correct values on a daily basis.
Determining our values can be helpful for any decision we are facing: what job to take, how to spend our free time, where to vacation, etc. They are the blueprints that give our world meaning and ensure that we are living a life that reflects who we really are. If we don’t know what is right or wrong, good or bad for us as individuals, we flounder. Not having a clear vision of what we value leaves us susceptible to making impulsive choices. Living an authentic, harmonious life is easier when we become mindful of our own personal values.
Values can change over time. What we valued at 25 may not be as important to us as we approach 40. (For example, having a sense of purpose may feel more vital later in life than prosperity.) As we accumulate life experiences, we may find that the values we derived from childhood (parents, church, and schooling) are no longer serving us. We may even discover that some of these values are in direct conflict with each other. Assessing and prioritizing them on a regular basis will help keep our behavior and values in sync.
A former client that came to me unhappy with her job will help clarify the importance of this topic. She was convinced that she needed to find other employment. She believed in what the organization stood for and liked her co-workers, but always felt drained at the end of the day. Highest on her list of values was calm, serenity and order. Her work environment was loud, frantic and disorderly. Once she found ways to incorporate her values into her work day, she began to enjoy the office again and decided against leaving.
Taking the time to evaluate our values will create a less reactionary existence. The effort will pave the way for a life that feels happy, fulfilling and reflective of how we want to show up in the world.
Be You. No Apologies!