Plenty of science supports the Bigwigs who say our deepest sense of happiness comes from living a values-based life. This means that we are happier when we live in alignment with the values that give our lives meaning. And, our desires help us do that.
Seems straightforward. You know what you value. You desire the things that help you live close to those values and when those desires are fulfilled – you are, waa laa, happy.
But, here’s the thing: I don’t think a lot of people know what they truly value anymore. And I think we’ve been taught that to desire anything, is selfish and wrong.
Our values are clearly influenced by our life experiences, how we feel and also how we were raised. They are influenced by our sense of right and wrong; our education and beliefs; by what our parents say; and by how we behave when life gets messy.
And, like anything, they can become outdated. We can outgrow our values as we change and grow. And, without even knowing it we lose sight of the values that truly guide our lives. When we don’t know what we value; or when we act out of alignment with our values, we feel off balance. Stuck. Out of sorts. Confused. And, to get technical, icky.
When you know what you value, you’re more likely to know what you want and need. Then, you can pursue those desires. The process – your life – becomes creative, energizing, inspiring. It becomes infused with purpose, meaning, and joy – even when you’re experiencing struggle.
Here is how you can uncover your values and desires.
>>Answer this one question. What matters most to me? There are no wrong answers. Don’t judge yourself. Just answer the question, on paper. Honestly. It’s about getting clear. And really seeing the life you’re creating as compared to the life you want to create. Value money more than your health, write it down. Value fun more than work. Make a note. This is about awareness.
>>Rank the things you wrote. Put a number one by the thing you value most today. Recognize that while your core values are likely to remain the same, their ranking may change from time to time. If you rank your health #5 on the list, for example, and then you’re doc says you need to lower your cholesterol, your health value may shoot to numero uno.
>>Now, evaluate how you support your top five. List a couple of the things you will do today to live in alignment with those values.
My family holds the second spot, behind my health. In keeping with that value we had a family dinner last night and I made lunch for my husband. I worked out and ate a salad for lunch in keeping with my number one health value.
Seem selfish to put my physical health in the first slot? Maybe. But, I realized real quick during a cancer scare that I couldn’t care for my family, do my work, or inspire others (according to my other values) in the best way if my physical body weren’t strong and healthy.
>>Leave room for variety. This isn’t about absolutes. And the way your values and desires play out in your life will shift and fluctuate as your life changes. There are myriad ways to live in alignment. But too often we say one thing when we’re doing another because we are unaware of what we are really doing. We are unconscious. We say we value our work, but gripe about it when we’re on the job. We value family, but spend more time at work than anywhere else. We say we value our health, but choose to eat foods that make us fat.
I still eat a hamburger from time to time, just not as often as I used to before balance and health became among my top values.
Be open minded and aware of all the creative ways you can pursue your desires AND live in alignment with those values.
>>Know the why. You’re more likely to get what you desire when you know why you desire it. Want more money? Why? Perhaps it’s because of the freedom and relief wealth will offer you – that is the why and freedom is the value behind the desire.
Want to lose weight? Why? Maybe because you believe a healthy body will help you live longer so that you can support your family and go on the adventures you desire. Perhaps then health and vitality is the value behind the desire for weight loss. Knowing the why behind what you want will supercharge your efforts to get there.
What do you value? What matters to you? What do you want? If you’re no longer sure sit down and run through the exercises above. When your desires and values align not only will your life take on greater meaning and joy, but you will soar toward your greatest desires, dreams and wishes. And en route, you’re likely to connect with your greatest purpose.
Photo by: Stock.xchng
Post originally ran in June 2012