Hand curled in sunset with light streaming through

How Aligned to Your Values are You?

Living (as best as possible) towards your values brings about:

Happiness and joy

Satisfaction and contentment

Less suffering

Good self-esteem

Think about a recent time you felt these things- what values of yours were being met? Fun? Friendship? Humour? Culture? Adventure? Family?

Now imagine if you incorporated more of these things in your life – how would you feel towards your life?

It may seem obvious that doing more of what matters, has major benefits, but so many of us struggle to live according to our values…

Ironically, most of us don’t dedicate time to living in the “now” and instead are constantly thinking and planning for the future. I’m not saying that planning for the future is not important – of course it is – but many of us struggle to care for the “present”. Some of these examples may be familiar to you:

“When I finish uni, I’m going to [insert something you love doing]”

“Once I get a promotion, I’ll reduce my workload”

“Next year, I’m going to go on more holidays”

And then, unsurprisingly we find ourselves each year in December going:

“Ah, this year has flown!”

This is not just your perception, it’s based on tested theory (if you’re interested, look up on google the “holiday paradox”) that time is perceived, in retrospect, to go by faster with mundane “brainless” activities – e.g. mindlessly driving to work, tapping away at your laptop, getting the same coffee, at that same place, at uni/work.

So, instead of putting things off this year, let’s live for the “now”, and live (as best as possible) towards your values. So, at the end of 2019, you find yourself feeling satisfied in the belly and proud in the heart.

This is not about uprooting your life, it’s about making some changes; some small, some bigger and some that will be a WIP.

Start Living According to Your Values

An easy place to start, is to see how you’re currently living according to your values. Ask yourself: How satisfied (out of 10, with ’10’ being “extremely satisfied”) am I in my:

Education/work?

Personal Growth?

Health?

Relationships?

Hobbies/Leisure?

Note, this exercise is very personal, some people will not need to dedicate much time to certain areas of their life to feel satisfied. As well, each individual will have different things that are fulfilling in each area of life. For example, for one person “personal growth” may mean spending time with nature, while for another person it may mean following a religion.

Once you’ve rated these 5 domains of your life, simply plan for change in the areas you’re clearly unsatisfied in. At this point, reading Why Your New Years Resolutions Don’t Work will help you in goal-setting for change.

For example, let’s say you scored yourself 4/10 in your relationships, what needs to change to increase your sense of satisfaction?

For some people, this may be:

  • Talk openly to my friends about some of my struggles, and do more fun things with them
  • Or, spend more time with quality friends, rather than spreading myself thinly

The great thing about this exercise is it’s a gift that keeps giving: The more you move towards your values, the more inspired and motivated you become to make changes. And the more you live towards values, the happier and more peaceful you will be.

Learn More About Living Towards Your Values

The above exercise is a strategy taken from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). If you’d like to learn more about how to live according to your values, it’s well worth reading Russ Harris’ book, “The Happiness Trap”. ACT is designed to reduce suffering in life, by accepting (and not avoiding) pain that is an inevitable part of the human condition. ACT promotes healthy living by using our values to guide our response to pain and the direction in which we take life.

A psychologist trained in ACT can also guide and support you in your life journey. Our psychologists are trained and experienced in ACT therapy. If you would like some professional assistance contact us at Peaceful Mind Psychology.