We make hundreds of choices each day that affect our businesses, our eating, our spending, our relationships, our activities and our health. However, many of these decisions are made unconsciously, automatically, and they often prove to be more based more in emotion than reason (link with TB8: For whom and why do you vote).
In fact, our choices are strongly influenced by our values, in other words, what we believe to be good, moral and important. Do you want to quickly decode someone’s values, or perhaps your own? Take care to notice where time, money and energy are invested. Notice an individual’s subjects of conversation. You will discover how important these values are to this individual, or to yourself. Are all values as good, healthy and moral as we think? And finally, do they each contribute in equal measure to our well-being and health?
First, if one person holds money as a central value (therefore the ends justify the means), we can easily see that immoral and even unethical behaviour will be the inevitable result. All values are not equally good for society and for individuals.
Second, with respect to the individual: does the pursuit and achievement of one’s values necessarily bring happiness? Research shows that:
The quest for values such as autonomy, self-actualisation, harmonious interpersonal relationships, ethics, integrity and working for a cause greater than oneself, is associated with greater happiness and greater life satisfaction in general.
On the other hand, pursuit of extrinsic values such as social success, riches, recognition and prestige leaves one more open to stress, anxiety, depression and dissatisfaction.
Do you really want to know whether what you are seeking is contributing to your happiness? Do you wish to avoid too many regrets at the end of your life? I invite you to try the following exercise:
Imagine a gala ceremony for your 75th birthday.
- Who are the friends and family around you? Make up the list of those you absolutely want to be there.
- During the speeches in your honour, what does each one say about you:
- Your children
- Your brothers and sisters
- Your friends
- Your colleagues
- The people who have known you (neighbours, clients, suppliers…)
4) What would you like them to say about you?
5) What character traits of yours will they remember?
6) What particular contribution of yours will they remember?
7) In what respect, and why, were you important to them?
At this point, it would be worthwhile and wise to take a few minutes to ask yourself what really matters to you. This simple act may lead you toward different choices in your day-to-day.
Happy contemplation… and happy birthday!
Work Psychologist, professionnal speaker, author and business coach