Morning Gang! At some point in our lives we are challenged with finding happiness in some way shape or form. In what I have learnt and found personally, a lot of this all comes back to a single source. This post takes a first pass at some commonality and introduces a path improved happiness.
Let’s jump straight in. I’m grouping up a lot of potential challenges up into the banner of happiness for this one and may include e.g.:
- Low motivation
- Low sense of achievement
- Unhappy relationship(s)
- Low job satisfaction
- Self-critical / low opinion of yourself
- Conflict with people
- You are angry, jealous, defensive, competitive (even gossip, backbiting etc)
So…. What ties all these together and what would help us shift to happier places. I’m also going to bold a few key words here if you wanted to explore the topic from other authors. Years back I wrote a short article on integrity, which is one perspective of this topic; if you are living any part of your life outside your true self then for me you are living out of your integrity and here starts the challenges. Another few concepts have popped up since that article; intrinsic value and extrinsic value. In the context of you, these are items which require either you or others to provide. An intrinsic value for example would be ‘be kind’. You are in complete control of succeeding or failing at this :).
In my experience there are just a couple leading reasons we end up unhappy and they all stem from being disconnected from our values. So we tend to end up living to someone else’s values. Or they are slightly confused and so our ability to extract the maximum benefit of living to them is wasted. There is quite a bit out there demonstrating that defining and affirming values will help you in many aspects of life (Reseach paper on the benefit of defining values). Also, anything written on purpose generally fits in here.
Under stress/conflict etc our ability to process information and make rational decisions starts to decline. We circle around what we know and re-enforce it, who we are or think we need to be. The risk of stepping outside what we have built or defined seems extreme and brings an enormous amount of fear either acknowledged or unacknowledged. If we are living in a space we already feel is not quite right, it makes sense we aren’t eager to explore areas even more foreign. In fact, even without stress our ability to consider and make change is a challenge to begin with. As you are reading this you are already critically evaluating it against what is working for you and looking for reasons to either discount it or consider it. I think we all know how tough it is to stay open to being wrong and working at change even at our best times.
A few examples that may suggest you are living outside your values or are not clear enough on them.
- Hate my job: You have landed in a job or career that you knowingly hate, or you find yourself justifying regularly.
- ‘the flexibility/money outweighs the stress and long hours’
- ‘it’s a job’
- ‘some days/parts are great’
- Toxic people: There are people in your life that seem to always create stress, drain you of energy, use you, confuse you etc. This is slightly more complex as you may have clear values but some are confused, or lack of clarity are allowing these people to stay in your life.
- ‘Oh there are good and bad people everywhere’
- ‘they mean well’
- ‘It’s partly me’
- ‘oh but they are family’
- ‘My partner seems to agree with them’
- ‘I’m doing my best but they always seem to blame me for…’
- Needing people: Sometimes we end up leaning or needing others to fill the gap. Throw this in with the dynamics of lust and love and you end up a with a really confusing dynamic we think can be healthy for us but often is not.
- ‘I know I’ve only known them for a short time but they are the one’
- ‘I can’t spend a day without them’ (unhappy or just lost if you’re not with them)
- ‘why don’t they care’
- ‘no matter what I do people don’t like me’
- Have no purpose in life: You have no real direction or feel life has no point/purpose.
- ‘I don’t know what I want to do’
- ‘I don’t like the hobbies I used to’
That was just some common ones.
While exploring these and landing exactly what is happening are not often that easy, this is about as complicated as the core concept is. In my experience the complexity in how these land for people differs due to things such as life experiences, personality and openness to vulnerability and change. They might seem like pretty easy topics and concepts but most of us fail at making them real for number of reasons. I love working in this space with people so reach out and let me support you along the way.
To get you started, make a list of your values. Start with any key words that come to mind about what is important to you. You will probably find the list ends up being a mix of doing, feeling, having. They are all going to be usable so take some time, come back to it and write them all down. And write it down as if anything and everything is possible. Here are some to get you started: experience, connection, achievement, relationships, trust, courage, success… In the end you want to pull out the intrinsic value items out of this list – that is, are you in complete control of achieving it?
Next concept is a personal mission statement, this ties core values together than frames them in a way that makes them real, fun and focused for you. If you get your list of values together and you get this far I would be keen to hear from you.
There is also a range of follow-on activities past this to help you build equanimity, regard for others, non-attachment etc. These fine tune focus away from those things you can’t control and turn it towards what you can while respecting, valuing and even loving others for where they are at. All these things are connected but are effective only once we have a clear self.
Look after yourself!