We know that, according to Oxford Dictionary, values are standards of behaviour, one’s judgement of what is important in life. How we find out what our values are, is the challenge. Without posing the right questions and looking into ourselves deeper, we risk selecting behaviours as our values, which may indeed be important to us, but they may not necessarily be the driving force behind fulfilling our purpose. Yes, we may be fulfilling our dreams and gaining momentary satisfaction by acting in line with what we think is right, but it is not always our real drive.
Psychologists talk about that sort of happiness and describe it as hedonic, which is experiencing happiness in the moment of no pain and only pleasure. The thing is that unless we learn what truly bothers us and then start undertaking meaningful to us action to ease it, everything else, from eating a piece of chocolate through to winning a lotto (unless there is a plan and purpose towards the money), will bring us only momentary pleasure.
I have been analysing the subject of values for a few years now. I have tried to understand what makes us tick. For each of us it is different things, and yet we are all the same.
We are the same in that:
1. We all want to have our basic needs fulfilled, they start with the most basic ones of shelter, food and then we have a need to be free, need to be treated with justice, to be seen and heard.
2. We are the same as we all want to fulfil whatever was taken away from us, whatever was missing in our lives, whatever the pain in us is. In other words our values are likely to be the cure to this pain. The cure brings the balance to our lives, the Balance which I talked about in the previous post.
The pain I am referring to here is caused by one or more of the basic rights being taken away from us, not necessarily in dramatic circumstances, and simply by not being provided what we needed as children or in other circumstances. Rights such as freedom or justice, right to speak openly, right to belong, right to love and be loved and others. People who understand it and 'flip it around', achieve amazing and do amazing things in this world. They make this world a better place by bringing more justice, because they didn’t have justice, more freedom, because they didn’t experience freedom, more understanding and compassion, because they didn’t experience these and as result they give it now to others.
Some believe giving is the gateway to happiness. I believe it is – it is when we give to the world what has been missing for us. And throughout the giving process, not only do we do amazing things for others, we actually give to ourselves as well.
How are values relevant to our every day life?
I have previously talked about communication and how important it is to provide feedback to others, regardless of their rank in an organisation, how important it is to be vulnerable and admit to not knowing something, when we don't. People, to accept others for who they are (vulnerable boss in Feedback article) and learn to hear what others are saying (in Communication), first need to accept themselves as they are. To do that, we need to understand ourselves. It is the first pillar of Emotional Intelligence. How to achieve that? Values.
Many people say they want to be happy. What does it mean to be happy? There are two types: one, mentioned before – momentary satisfaction and the second, Eudaimonic wellbeing related to having a sense of purpose and meaning in life, which does not result from the persuit of pleasure, but rather from developing individual strengths and values.
So we can either go about life trying to increase the number of happy moments and pray that no challenges come our way. Or we can embrace the challenges, understand that there is a reason for them happening and try to ‘flip them around’, see wherever we can give and how we can benefit. That is meaningful. And to find a deeper meaning in life, to set meaningful challenging goals, which will take us further in life, to stand for something (to know our Personal Brand) , we need to know what navigates us, what our Compass is. Values.
All that happens to us, happens for a reason - you probably have heard that statement before. I believe that whatever happens provides us with an opportunity to do something amazing with our lives and for others.
If it wasn’t for what was missing in my life first, I wouldn’t be having what I have now. If it wasn’t for what I had experienced in the past, I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing now: I wouldn’t be helping people uncover their values, their purpose and be part of their journey. I wouldn’t understand what living authentic life means if I didn’t have a feeling I couldn’t lead one in the past.
How to identify your values?
Through an open conversation with a friend or a coach, asking the right questions of oneself or journaling, observing what really makes your life meaningful and fulfilling and identifying your pain.
So please contact me to share your thoughts or if you wish to have a conversation about it, or if you want to find our what your values are and how to implement them to start leading a meaningful life.
Disclaimer: Many people have felt enormous pain and challenges in their lives. They may feel great sense of injustice and find it impossible or difficult, at the best, to see any good in the bad that happens. This article is not meant to diminish their pain or injustice neither is it meant to disrespect them. Hopefully some people will find this beneficial and see that, when the time is right, they would like to see how, through their meaningful actions, can they bring more meaning, and less pain into their lives.