Archive for April, 2011

1 Gigantic, Important & Easy Way Men Can Increase The Happiness & Fulfillment In Their Lives!

Monday, April 18th, 2011

1) Knowing Who You Are!

 

Who are you?

It seems like a simple question…at first, but how would you answer it?

What is the first thing that comes to mind after reading that question? What kind of thoughts and answers pop up in your head?

Perhaps for some of you this question seems easy, you believe you know who you are quite well, if that’s you, I encourage you to keep reading, as you might be surprised by what you find. For others, you may not know where to begin; the questions seems so big and open that you feel almost lost in it. However you feel, stop for a moment and really try and answer the question “who are you” and see what comes up. Once you do, continue reading.

Now that you’ve taken a moment to think over this, what were some of the thoughts that passed through your mind? Did you think about your career and job title? Or about the great times you had on a trip, at a party or playing sports? Maybe your thoughts centered on a particular accomplishment or achievement in your life. Then again, perhaps you thought about the people you know, close family members, your many friends or an important well known connection. It’s possible your thoughts turned to your house or condo as well as the area and the city you live in. Or maybe some images of your sports car, favorite music and top movies came to mind.

Notice what all of these things have in common. Notice that all of these thoughts are either things, objects, people or events. They are things you do and things you have. Things outside of yourself, but they are not you! The main point is that there is a difference between who you are and what you do and have. However we have trouble putting this into practice because we live in a society that has conditioned us to associate those things with who we are and ultimately define ourselves by them. We are in a culture that tries to keep ourselves busy with what we have and do, which prevents us from looking within. It’s not always natural or easy to think of ourselves in a different way, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t; there are great benefits to doing so!

When I asked an individual the question “who are you” during a presentation, he responded by saying “I’m a realtor, I enjoy selling real estate, growing my business, travelling the world and being a philanthropist”. A realtor is a title, a position and selling real estate is also an action, a job description of something he does. Growing a business is an accomplishment, an end result. Travelling the world is another action and being a philanthropist is another title.

Career, great times, possessions, achievements, family and friends are not who you are but they are very useful in telling us about who we are. That is, they do not completely miss the target, they are just off the mark. Part of the reason they are off the mark is because they are just words, labels and categories that can only tell us so much without delving deeper into them. For example, let’s take a look at someone who is a doctor. What does that person like about being a doctor? Why did they become a doctor? How is being a doctor meaningful to that person? If you asked 2 different doctors those same sets of question you could come up with 2 very different answers. One doctor may answer the first question by saying “I like helping people” or “I enjoy intense challenges”, the other doctor may do it for “financial flexibility and peace of mind” or for the aspect of “research and learning”. So while 2 people can hold the same job title they can clearly enjoy different aspects of the job and do the job for different reasons. That’s important because of what those answers say about those people, about who they are and in this case the values of that person. What we are really talking about here are values!

So what? So different people have different values; some people like challenges, some people enjoy  helping others, some like flexibility and still others appreciate learning. Why is this important?

 

PART 2

 

The truth is, getting the most out of life, living the life you want and being who you are meant to be is critically dependent on  knowing who you are and aligning your life with who you are. In other words, the choices and actions you take every day should  be based on fully knowing yourself, a big part of that, perhaps the largest part is your values. This will greatly increase your fulfillment and happiness in life. You may be wondering why that is. Is it actually important to know your values? Does it really matter that you know more about who you are?

It isn’t important at all if you’re not going to act on your values. Just like any piece of information or knowledge, it is useless unless it is actually used in some shape or form. However, your values are extremely important if you are willing to act on them, use them in your life and ultimately align your life with them. As I’ve stated before, getting the most out of life, living the life you want and being who you are meant to be are all critically dependent on  fully knowing who you are. In other words, the choices and actions you take every day should  be based on fully knowing yourself, and a big part of who you are is your values!

Before going any further, let’s take a step back and be clear on what a value is first of all. So, what do you think a value is? Any ideas?  What comes to mind for you?

It is important to note though, the difference between liking something and it being a value. A person can like playing a sport, say basketball for example, but the value is not basketball it’s self, it is what basketball is and involves, it is what basketball consists of on a more fundamental level. Challenge, competition, accomplishment, teamwork and physical activity are involved in basketball, these are all potential values of someone who likes playing basketball. Similarly there is a difference between valuing something and that thing being a value. It is the samedistinction that was just made between liking something and that thing being a value. Someone can value basketball, just as when some likes basketball, but that does not mean basketball it’s self is a value.

A value is something of worth and of importance. That is, you can test whether something is a value of yours by asking yourself if it is important to you and if it has worth to you. In that sense feelings are also attached to values. If there is no emotion evoked by a value, there is a good chance it is not a value at all.

A value can also be ethical in nature like a moral such as love or respect. Values are often tied to these things but values encompass more than just ethics and morals. Some values have no morality attached to them at all, in that sense they are not right or wrong they are just a preference or desire. For example, the desire for competition or challenge is not right or wrong. Of course how those values look in action can very much be an issue of morality, but that is a separate point.

In the previous article some examples of values that came up were things such as challenge, helping others, flexibility and learning. What do you notice about these values? For starters they can look like many different things and take shape in many different forms. A value is also something that can extend to and span over multiple aspects of your life, it is not something that is limited specifically to one area of your life. For example, a doctor who enjoys challenges is not limited to the challenges  he or she encounters during his or her day at work. A doctor and anyone who values challenges can enjoy being challenged in many different areas of their life from recreational activities, to physical activity to personal growth. Likewise, it shouldn’t be hard to imagine a doctor who genuinely cares about other people  enjoying helping people outside of his or her time at work. Put another way, values extend outside of the thing, place or action you notice them in.

This brings us to the next point, values are in many ways intangible. That is, they are not specifically measurable or easily quantifiable, however, while they are intangible, values are not invisible! You can clearly see them in action through peoples choices. What they spend their time doing and how they do what they do will often show you what they value. The value is lies behind the action and is the reason for it.

Now I want you to try something. I want you to think about the last really good day and the last really bad day you had. Think carefully and when you’ve come up with one memory of each continue reading…

Now that you have a specific good day and bad day in mind I’d like you to think about what happened on those days. What kind of choices and actions did you make?  How were you treated by others? What events took place and things happened to you?  Next, think carefully about how those things relate to your values. What do you notice?

You should notice that what took place on the good day matched and reflected your values very well.  You should also notice that on the bad day your values were not met, rather what happened crossed and clashed with them greatly. Let’s use a few examples to illustrate this. If you valued independence, variety and decision making but your boss decided not to ask for your input and made an important decision for you that also brought mundane routine and less freedom into your job, chances are you’d feel very disappointed as well as resentful. Similarly, if you valued efficiency, productivity and accuracy but you decided to take the day off and subsequently many mistakes were made by your employees and a perfect opportunity to complete a  project due that day was lost, you might very well feel regret and some anger. On the other hand, if your boss had given control of a new cutting edge project over to you with complete freedom to carry it out the way you wanted, you would most likely be excited and thankful. Likewise, if you chose to work extra hours to complete a project ahead of schedule, a project made up of new systems and operations that would help yourself and others accomplish future tasks in shorter amounts of time and with less error you would probably be full of energy for days!

The truth is, all other things being equal, you can almost always link how good or how bad a day was back to your values. The more important a value is, the more values that are touched on, the more often those values are touched and the degree of intensity they are touched with all determine how much happiness and fulfillment or disappointment and resentment we feel. This leads to an obvious question; How can you help ensure you will have as many good days as opposed to bad days. How do you maximize your happiness and fulfillment through your values? How do you gain more happiness and fulfillment through the choices you make? How can you help maximize the amount of “good days” you have and minimize the amount of “bad days” you have?

 

PART 3

 

The previous article left us with the following statement; the more important a value is, the more values that are touched on, the more often those values are touched and the degree of intensity they are touched with all determine how much happiness and fulfillment or disappointment and resentment we feel. So let’s dig a little deeper into that text so you can have a clearer sense of how this works and what you can do. However, before going any further, 2 important questions must be asked. Do you really want more good days and less bad days than you have right now? Do you really want more happiness and fulfillment than you currently have? The key word in those questions is more. You may already be having a lot of great days and quite a bit of happiness, that’s great if you do, but the question is do you want more? If so, keep reading!  If not, don’t waste your time here!

If we were to look at the spectrum of choice when it comes to honouring your values, on one end of the spectrum there would be the simple choices, the ones we seemingly have complete control over. For example, if some of your key values are challenge and growth, then when playing your favourite sport what would be the logical choice of action to honour those 2 values? If you said it would make sense compete against someone else who is very good and at least as good as you in order to be challenged and to grow in your ability, you’d be right. This may seem obvious and it is, but nonetheless many of us don’t carry out this most simple of behaviours. So why don’t we do this? There are many reasons for this (a topic I will cover towards the end of this series), but I want to mention one in particular now. Sometimes it is because of other values, competing values! That’s right, sometimes values can compete with one another. For example, if another one of your values is winning, victory and competition then to honour those values and the values of challenge and growth, there exists a dilemma. The more you are challenged and pushed the greater likelihood that you will loose. The more chance you have of winning and being victorious, the less chance you have of being pushed and being challenged. This is where it gets a bit tricky but by knowing your core values, the ones that are the most important to you, the ones that when you honor them will give you the most fulfillment. Ideally you want to make decisions that will honour your core values first and foremost and when possible, also honour other values at the same time. I will spend more time on this in the next article when I write more on uncovering your values through value mining exercises.

Now let’s look to the other end of the spectrum; situations, events and other people. When I say that you have a large influence over your day being good or bad, many of you will probably be thinking that you can’t really determine whether or not you’re going to have a good day or a bad day because it’s out of your control since it depends on other peoples actions and the situation you find yourself in. Well that’s only partly true. Is it true that you can’t completely control what some will do? Yes. Is it true that that they will do things both positive and negative that you didn’t have any say in or over? Yes. Is it true that situations and circumstances will arise that are beyond you’re control. Absolutely, there is no denying that. However, you have a lot more control than you think you do. What you choose to be a part of in the first place, from your career and work place to your friends and romantic relationships, plays a huge determining factor in what kind of situations and circumstances you find yourself in and as a result whether or not your values are being met. In other words, that first initial choice of what and who you get involved with is extremely important when it comes to aligning your life with your values. So are the choices you make afterwards. What you do in response to those events and that actions you choose to take after individuals have behaved a certain way, is also your choice, a choice that should be in line with your values. Even doing nothing is a choice! Of course if “taking action” is a value of yours, that choice will clearly not reflect that value.

The truth is we always have a choice. That’s right, always. Each day when we get up to go to work in the morning we are choosing to go to work. You may hear people say things like, “I have to”, or perhaps they elaborate a little more and say “I have to or else…”.  Notice that they are bringing consequences into the picture, what they are really saying is they don’t want the consequences so they are deciding on a particular course of action that will most likely not result in that consequence. In other words they want one thing more than another. The same person could easily have said, I don’t want to get fired, so I will go to work. Or I really want that new car, so I will work extra hard to gain a promotion. Ideally, the choice you make should be aligned with what you value most in that situation or circumstance. Let’s test this further and take it to the most extreme example, when someone has a gun to someone else’s head and demands they do a certain deed. The truth is, even in this situation that person still has a choice. In fact, many people have died choosing not to comply with such demands and have been killed for it. While this is an extreme example it proves the point, that you always have a choice.

Now take a moment to think about a typical day of yours and some of the things you do during such a day. Next try to think about all of the things you might do but choose not to, it’s a lot of stuff isn’t it?  For each of the things you do there is a choice to do it, which means you make a lot of choices each day! In fact, the average person makes 2000 to 3000 choices each day. The truth is every moment of every day you are making choices, choices to do what you are doing, stop what you are doing or to do something else and thereby either honouring your values or ignoring them. Quite empowering isn’t it? In that light it’s quite easy to see how much choice and therefore how much power we truly have when it comes to honouring our values and increasing our happiness and fulfillment! So the next you catch yourself saying  “I have to”, stop and think about your situation a little closer and remember that you have a choice. Then think; what is that you want and don’t want and remember that the action you take is a choice you make that will can either honour your values or cross them.

 

PART 4

 

What if you could honour your values in as many areas of your life as possible? Would the increased happiness and fulfillment you recieved be worthwhile?

What if you could honour more of your values by knowing more of your values? Would the happiness and fulfillment you felt as a result impact your life?

The answer of course is yes! And the good news is you can!

Honouring your values in as many areas of your life as possible – The Wheel of Life

If you could honour your values more often how much more happiness and fulfillment would that give you? Well, how much would depend on how often you are currently honouring your values already. If you are not intentionally doing so, chances are you would see a large return! And if you are, the following information if implemented, is guaranteed to bring you even more joy and satisfaction.

So how do you go about doing this? As I’ve mentioned before, a value is not limited to one aspect of your life, such as just your career, so on a macro level, the easiest way is to honour a value in as many aspects of your life as possible. Let’s say that a value of yours is effort and hard work and currently you are honouring that value at your job. That’s  great, it’s a good start, but how many aspects of life does work encompass? Obviously the answer is one aspect of your life, albeit most likely a large one.

What if you honoured the value of effort and hard work in another area of your life such as your physical health, fitness and strength? How much more happiness and fulfillment would you gain? You’ve just doubled the amount of areas of your life that you are honouring that value in, so chances are the results would be significant and noticeable! But why stop there? Let’s take it a step further, what if you honoured that value in four aspects of your life instead of just two? Better yet, what if you honour that value in every aspect of your life!

If you go to the link http://lifeonpurposecoaching.net/applications-of-life-coaching.html and view the interactive Wheel of Life you’ll see that it breaks life as a whole into different aspects. Take some time to explore the Wheel of Life and get familiar with it by clicking on the different sections. Once again, the more aspects in the wheel that you honour a given value in, the more fulfillment and hapiness you’ll have in your life!

Next comes perhaps the most basic, most necessary and most critically fundamental component of all, which if missing none of this would work or even matter: Knowing your values!

I’ve touched on this briefly in previous articles but I will delve into this in much greater detail here. Let’s start with the obvious; if honouring your values brings you more happiness and fulfillment it would only make sense that honouring as many of your values as possible would bring you even more happiness and fulfillment. Of course though, first you need to know what your values are before you can honour them. There is a name for finding and discovery your values, it’s called value mining.

The Peak Experience Exercise is a great tool for value mining. After reading the previous articles and having a better understanding of what values are and how they are related to how you feel you’ll easily see why. Peak experiences are those moments in time when you felt amazing, on top of the world and wanted it to go on for ever. Essentially, a peak experience is one of your best days ever, except it doesn’t have to be an entire day. However it does have to be definable moment in time and it has to be memorable. This is because exploring this experience and reflecting on it is how we uncover values.

Something like this is best done with a life coach but it can be done with another individual who is able to focus you, ask the right questions and read into your answers and take values fromt them. The key here is you want to take out as many descriptions and attributes as you can from your memory, really breaking it down. Once you have this down you can start diciphering, identifying and putting together the values from that.

Here’s a very breif example; let’s say that one of a persons peak experiences was climbing a tall mountain over looking the ocean at sunrise with their best friend in the summer. During that climb they encountered surprisingly difficult terrain where in the he or she had to help his or her best friend through the difficulty. On the way up they also met some other hikers, who they passed on their way up the mountain. Finally once at the summit of the mountain they spent the next few moments quietly looking around them before then chatting for an hour with the same hikers they passed earlier.

What values do you see in this brief example? Some obvious ones would be the value of beauty, outdoors/nature, physical activity, friendship/companionship, accomplishment, competition, adventure, helping others and making new friends.

Less obvious values might be freedom and independence as well as spirituality and reflection and even teaching.

Now of course not everything that happens during a peak experience translates into a value, that’s where your own judgment will have to come into play.

Another technique similar to the Peak Experience Exercise is exploring and breaking down the things you like doing  in order to uncover values from them, just as the first and second article in this series showed. The opposite also holds true, you can use those really bad experiences and those things you hate doing, dig deeper into them and see what it is that you really dislike and despise about them. Chances are the opposite of those things are values of yours.

So now you have the means to create a list of your values. Assuming you then create a list of values, what next? What should you do with that list?

Any piece of information is useless if you don’t do anything with it!

 

PART 5: The Final Part

 

Now assuming that you have created a list of your possible values, what’s next? Well if you really want to gain the most happiness and fulfillment you can from knowing and honoring your values keep reading!

The first thing to do is weed out those things that come up for you during the value mining exercises that are clearly not your values or are questionable.

Part of this involves making sure you are using the right words for the values you have identified.  Different words mean different things for different people, that is, 2 people can have the same value but use different words to describe that value. For example, the words joy, happiness and delight are all closely related values, however some people may use those words interchangeably while others see them as distinctly different. The last thing you want is to be thrown off by the wrong word. In order to prevent this, generate alternative words and then pick the best words for you.

Next, narrow your list down and pick your top 10 or 15 values from that list. There a 2 reasons for limiting the number of values you have on your value list. The first is to ensure the significance and importance of these values in your life, which helps ensure that these really are your values. We want values that are really important to you, not just kind of important. Secondly, it helps you to focus. With a list of 20 values, you can get lost or overwhelmed, but if you cut it down it’s much more practical and you’ll be more likely to keep track of those values and ultimately use them.

Once you’ve narrowed your list down to 10 or 15 values, feel free to order your values or rank your values. This may even mean putting a top 3 or top 5 into your list of values and thus creating a core value list. The reason for creating a core value list within your list has to do with competing values. Competing values are those times when it seems you cannot honor 2 particular values at the same time because the values clash. Now this does not mean every time more than one value is honored at a time that another value is being crossed, far from it. Perhaps this example will illustrate the point; if 2 of your values include being challenged and having victory over your competition there is a natural dilemma when it comes to deciding who or what team you want to play against in sports whether it be a single game or league and level of competition to join. Obviously the harder the competition the more you will be challenged, pushed and grow, however, the harder the competition the more likely you are too lose and vice versa when the competition is of lower ability. Having a core value list will help you to chose which of your values to honor first and foremost, it will also help you to be able to strike a balance between the 2.  After all, the more important a value is to you the more happiness and fulfillment you will gain from honoring that value.

After this it’s a great idea to create descriptions for all of your values that are at least a couple sentences long each. This is different than choosing which word to use for a value. Rather you will describing this value, what it looks like and what it is in detail! The reason for this is for to be clear on exactly what that value means for you. These are your values, not someone else’s and not the culture or society that you live in.  For example, just because your friend or your culture may tell you that strength is physical doesn’t mean that strength can’t  be strength of character or authenticity or kindness for you. On top of this, the more time you spend exploring your values and becoming familiar with them the more they will be at the forefront of your mind at all times and hence more likely to effect your decision making.

Lastly, there is what to do with your value list physically, specifically, where to place it. It is critical not to just throw this list in a drawer somewhere where it will be lost or forgotten. Rather it is best to put it somewhere you are going to see often, like beside your bed, on your desk or computer or the fridge. The more you see this list the more you will be reminded of your values and the more you will have them in your mind through out the day as you make your decisions and choices.

Also be aware that your value list does not have to remain stagnant. If you feel that replacing, subtracting or adding a value will more accurately reflect who you are, then go ahead and do it. A value list is not written in stone, it’s purpose is to serve you best so that you can have more happiness and fulfillment in your life. Having the most up to date and accurate list possible is key part of that.

At this point I want to leave you with what has been at the heart of these articles and what will at the heart of the next several series of articles as well. Getting the most out of life, living the life you want and being who you are meant to be are all critically dependent on fully knowing who you are. This is so that the choices and actions you take every day can match who you are, in particular your values.

So what gets in the way of this? Lots of things! That’s where a life coach and the process of life coaching comes into the picture!

 

-If you want to know how this applies to you as a unique individual in your unique situation!

-If you want to take action to overcome the barriers and obstacles in your life while using your strengths!

-If you want to stay on track once you’re on track!

Start by booking a free 45 minute life coaching sample session using the form in the top right corner or email me at Shane@LifeOPC.com or call 250-889-0988 today!