Skill 12: Values

How often does it make you feel crappy when you see that someone else is successful? Maybe they have something you want – like a girlfriend, or loving husband. Maybe they look like they have a lot of money. They seem so happy. It’s not that resent them for it, it’s just that you wonder why you can’t have that too. How often do you get angry or tired when you think about where you want to be, and it’s not where you are right now? 

This is all happening because you are assigning your self-worth to gaining these things you want, and then comparing yourself to other people. You see a small piece of someone else’s life, notice it’s a part you want, and assume the rest of their life is great. Then you compare it to your own life, where you know all the stinky details, and it’s an ugly comparison. So you’re effectively assigning your self-worth to things that you don’t have control over, and then making unfair comparisons to yourself. It’s a recipe for demotivation. It’s why more and more studies show that Facebook can be detrimental. People only see the amazing side of everyone’s life and compare to their own.

You Have What it Takes

So how do you change it? The first thing to realize is that your sense of pride in who you are and general sense of happiness comes from you. It does not come from outside things. Other people, our loved ones, and our passions are all sources of happiness. But it is you that makes it possible to love those people and enjoy their company. If your own issues get in the way of that, it’s not that those people are doing anything different to make you more or less happy. It is you who defines what you are worth, and why you are worth it. And when you know that, it doesn’t matter what other people have. Because regardless of the chaos, you know you are in a good place right now, and you are looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Once you have accepted that it is in your power, you have to believe that you actually deserve to be happy. This seems silly, but take some time and use your awareness. Do you really believe you deserve it? Or do you tell yourself in little ways that you shouldn’t let yourself lean into it? When you laugh with someone, do you enjoy it, or do you stop yourself after a bit? Pay attention. Next time you slow yourself down, remind yourself that you deserve the happiness. Keep enjoying that feeling. Do not punish yourself for being happy. No matter who you are and what you’ve done, you get that.

The Choice is Yours

Now is the time to decide who you want to be. What characteristics do you want to have? What are your core values? This doesn’t mean things like ‘rich,’ or ‘respected’ or even ‘proud of who I am.’ Those are results of who you are, not who you are. Do not try to pick things you do not have power over. Choose things like ‘someone people can count on,’ ‘someone that cares for their family,’ ‘someone that helps others,’ or ‘someone that takes initiative.’ If it helps, make a list of all those characteristics you want to have. This is now who you are. Every time you encounter a situation where you have the opportunity to show who you are, do it. Even if it takes the extra effort, be the best you can be and do it. It doesn’t matter what other people think, because this is who you are, and this is who you want to be.

Your values should reflect the type of world you want to live in. If you believe we should live in a world where people are honest, hardworking, and helpful, then those are values you should include. Now as you move through life, every action you take to express those values is an action that moves the world slightly closer to the one you want to live in. Even if you sit all day at a boring job you can exercise your values in the work you do and during your interactions with other people. This is your primary purpose. You can use any circumstance to help your values grow in your sphere of influence.

Every time you choose to be the person you want to be, you’ll be proud of yourself. Let yourself be happy. This is who you are and nobody can take it away from you. This is how you become the change you believe in.

One tip for implementing this is to imagine a person that has the values you have chosen. When presented with a situation, ask yourself what they would do. Then do it.

Note: There are usually a few growing pains when you do this, so don’t give up. But you are likely going to change the way you act in certain situations, and people will notice. They will likely joke and call attention to it. But after a while you will notice that people will begin to respect you for who you are and that you don’t compromise on the most important things. Just keep it up. In time it will help guide you towards positions, people and activities that fit you best. And finally, remember that everything is best in moderation, including moderation. So don’t burn yourself out, but go for it when it makes sense.

Your Values are Yours, Not Everyone’s

When you live the life of the person you want to be, you will probably start to get excited. You are going to want to share it with people, and show what you chose to do. But keep in mind that your choices and values are yours, and they don’t always apply to everyone else. So don’t push people to simply follow your values or spiritual choices. Push them to find their own. If they match yours, fantastic. But everyone has their own lives and they need to figure it out for themselves. You will create agitation and conflict if you try to push your values and choices on others.

Practice Suggestions

  • Take some time to decide who you want to be
  • This week, really push yourself to do the things the person you want to be would do. It can be small things like jumping in and doing the dishes without being asked, or just making the effort to listen more to people when they are talking to you.
  • Do something that will make the person you are tomorrow feel proud of who you are today.
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