Really thriving usually involves living a life that is not just happy, but is also meaningful. This in turn involves living a life aligned with your values.
Living a life aligned with your values can be trickier than it sounds. There can be so many demands and deadlines, that really thinking about values gets lost.
“ Often people get caught up in doing things that are out of tune with their values, and then feel vaguely uncomfortable, unsatisfied, demotivated or irritable without really knowing why. ”
Taking the time to clarify these values can be a very important step towards living a meaningful life. Often this involves connecting with something bigger than yourself. People might be:
- working to support their family
- helping the people around them
- trying to do research that will help other people
- campaigning to save the environment.
- Clarifying Your Values
Clarifying your values helps align your energies, helps you to follow your heart, and find it easier to feel happy and productive.
It helps to separate goals out from values. A goal might be to finish your degree, get a good job, make lots of money or get married. Values are more things like, being kind or compassionate, helping others, being industrious or faithful.
What would you like to hear people say about you at your 90th birthday? What would you like your legacy to be? For yourself you might hope to hear kind, or loyal, or funny or anything else. Perhaps it would be fiercely intelligent. What would be the things you would like to hear someone say that you loved most? For Homer Simpson it might be his devotion to beer and donuts. Most people want money but might not want it to be their biggest love in life. Perhaps you might be remembered for love of your partner or family, or going into the outdoors, or sports, creativity, or helping people.
We have included some exercises to help with clarifying values below. They explore questions about what do you want your life to be about? What type of person do you really want to be? How would you most like people to think of you? Check out the ACT - Acceptance and Commitment Therapy - section on the Top Tips page for a video summary of how ACT works!
- Spiritual Beliefs & Experiences
Also linked with meaning are people's spiritual beliefs and experiences. This is spiritual in the broadest sense. For some people it may be through religion, but for others it might be the feeling of being part of nature, camping in the wilderness, or helping other people.
Take a look at our top tips to having a meaningful life.