I read a post recently by one of my favorite bloggers, Paul C. Brunson, about the key to happiness (check it out here: "How I Cured My Emptiness"). According to him,"Happiness is driven by feeding our values." It seemed like such a simple concept, yet I had never heard it explained quite that way. For most of us, the idea of "values" is a fairly ambiguous one; we have a general idea of what it means, but it can be hard to pinpoint exactly what our values look like in our day-to-day lives. Put simply, values form the principles that guide our lives, the tangible fuel that drives us and gives us that feeling of happiness and fulfillment. Stop feeding your values, says Brunson, and "you'll feel a substantial part of life is missing."
Hmm...interesting. Reading the article made me stop and reflect. What are my values? What are those things that I need in my life to feel my happiest and most fulfilled? After much thought, I arrived at the following:
1. Spirituality: And I'm not talking about church or religion. I mean communicating with God frequently in an authentic and meaningful way. For me, that looks like starting and ending my day with prayer, meditation, and reflection (in the form of journal writing). Those things (especially meditation) remind me to approach everything I do with a spirit of gratitude, and to fully embrace every moment, rather than focusing my thoughts on the future or the past.
2. Friends & Family: Whether its trading stories with my girlfriends at happy hour, Skyping with my cousin/best friend and goddaughter, or watching a movie with my boyfriend, I need quality time with the people who are close to me on a regular basis. They let me vent, make me laugh, and constantly give me new things to think about.
3. Physical Activity: I didn't realize what a passion I had for working out and exercising until I started running a couple of years ago. Now, five-mile runs, weekly kickboxing classes, karate, Zumba, etc. have become a much-needed part of my life. Pushing myself physically has helped me develop discipline in other areas of my life, and has become my favorite way to keep my stress level to a minimum.
4. Community Service: Using my time, resources, and skills to help others has always been important to me, and being a teacher has helped me to turn this passion into a living. Recently, though, I realized how much I missed volunteering. To help me "feed this value," I joined a community service group on Meetup.com to stay connected with activities that would help me to help others. I can't wait to get started.
So those are my values in action. And when I look back on periods in my life when I felt like I was in a "funk" and things just didn't seem to be going my way, I realize that I had neglected some (or all) of the things on this list.
What do your values look like in action? And are they starving or fully fed? Good questions to ask the next time it feels your tank is running on empty.
Till next time...