Walking on the beach

Do you live your life based on your own values, or based on a perception of how things “should” be done? When you have a decision to make, no matter how big or small, do you evaluate the impact it will have on your life and how it fits within your value system, or do you make decisions based on what seems proper to everyone else?

Values-based living is a deliberate and fulfilling way to navigate through the world. Let’s explore how you can lead a happier and more satisfying life by adopting a system based on the thoughts, beliefs, and values that matter most to you:

Understanding Your Values

Before you can begin living a values-based life, you must uncover what your personal values truly are. Find some quiet time to reflect and clear your head. Once you are relaxed and focused, ask yourself what matters most. Some words or themes may pop into your head immediately (love, family, laughter, joy) while others may require a deeper reflection (like your political beliefs or the value you place on financial solidity). Allow yourself to mindfully discover your authentic values without judgement or self-criticism. Only by revealing your truly held values can you begin to live by them. Succumbing to social pressure or trying to live up to external standards rarely leads to a fulfilling life.

Ranking Your Values

Once you have an understanding of your values, try to rank them in order of importance to you personally. While kids might be at the top of the list for one person, they might rank below career success for you. Be honest with yourself and rank your core values in order of what you value most. Values do not hold a permanent position, and they can always shift positions as you age or your priorities change. Still, taking the time to evaluate your values before making any major decision will lead to a happier and more fulfilling life.

Honouring Your Values

In addition to guiding our decision-making, our values should also be infused throughout our daily lives. If you value family make an effort to phone your parents or send a letter to a family member overseas. If you value intellectual growth, sign up for a class at the local university. If you value inner focus, start meditating daily. Whatever your values are, make a conscious effort to live a life that not only reflects your values, but honours and enhances them.

Developing an understanding of your values will not only help guide your decision-making, but it will make it easier to commit to a decision without second-guessing yourself. Your Ottawa therapist can offer further assistance as you strive to live a fulfilling values-based life.