“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”
What is it that you love?
This is a question that I often ask my clients. It is always relevant. It’s a question that can help cut through all the crap. Unfortunately, it is easy to get caught up in our “to do” lists and forget to make time for life! Many of us are overwhelmed by our many adult responsibilities. From work to parenting, providing for ourselves and our families, trying to keep up with our social calendars, we can find ourselves in constant financial and emotional distress. It’s important to remember that amidst all the chaos in our lives, we always have access to what we value and love. The difference between feeling run down, anxious, out of control, or depressed and feeling satisfied with our lives can hang in the delicate balance of where we direct our attention and actions. The first step to getting more aligned with our values is to identify them. Then we can start making small changes so that our actions are congruent with that which we love most.
Some ideas to get you going:
What are my top 5 values today?
(Hint: Values are fairly stable throughout our lives but as our life changes, our values may shift in their personal meaning. For instance, after having children, your value of success may involve being a good parent instead of being primarily based on your job title or salary.)
If you have trouble coming up with your values, try answering these few questions:
1.What is it that I love? (List anything and everything that comes to mind in no particular order.)
2.Describe one of your happiest memories:
3.Describe one of the times in your life when you felt the most proud of yourself:
4.Now, what do these answers have in common?
For example: In no particular order, a few of the things that I love:
My partner. My brother. My best friends. Big bear hugs. Sleeping in. Coffee. Coffee shops. The way a newspaper feels in my hands. Sunsets. Sunrises. The beach. The Ocean. Mountains. Quiet. Music. Music. Music. Playing piano. Trying to play the guitar. Live jazz. Vinyl. Stevie Nicks. Sleep. Waking up rested. Staying up all night. Brunch. Bacon. Speakeasies. Street art. Paris. Trains. Rainbows. Questioning everything. Accepting stuff. Surprises. Radiohead. Janis Joplin. The 60s. The 70s. Long skirts. Boots. Weird humor. People who dye their hair blue. Not wearing makeup. Writing. Poetry. Jack Kerouac. Bubble baths. Big comfy robes. The smell of oranges. Pizza. Siracha. Sushi. Leftovers. Plants. Laughing. People who make me laugh. Running. Being out of breath. My beating heart. Stopping running. Reading. Finishing a good book. Starting a new book. People watching. Benches. Old buildings. Getting dressed up. PJs. Not caring. Crying because I care so much.
How do I make today reflective of what I love and value?
Many of the times, when I do exercises like this with my clients, they find that their actions are not reflective of their values, of what they love most. Much of the work is in identifying ways to increase our awareness and then change these patterns. Even if today is a day you dread going to work and you didn’t sleep well last night, you can find a way to incorporate what you love the most into your day. Maybe today, you wish you were in Paris. (Or maybe that’s just me.) Sometimes we can get stuck focusing on what we don’t have and lose sight why we want something in the first place.
When traveling in Paris, I found that I cared far less about all the museums or the paying to walk to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I wanted to people watch, to try to speak French with French people, to write in my journal, drink coffee all day long, and get lost in the buzz of the city lights. Basically, I wanted to pretend to be Parisian. I remember feeling so present and being excited to see what was around every corner. Maybe today, it can’t be Paris (or wherever) but it can be coffee, a park bench, and that novel collecting dust on your bookshelf during your lunch break.
One of my favorite memories in Denver began one overcast Sunday when I woke with a major case of the Sunday blues. (You know what I’m talking about. It’s that dreadful thought reminding you that you have to return to work for 5 whole days and you’ve wasted half of one of your precious days off laying in bed.) That morning (okay, afternoon) I got a call from a good friend inviting me to brunch. Begrudgingly, I dragged myself out of my apartment to meet her downtown. Before brunch, she took me on a little tour of the amazing street art in the back alleys of Larimer Square, taking photos and marveling at the secret museum hiding behind some of our favorite restaurants and shops. After perusing alleys, we found what felt like the best brunch ever, consisting of giant bowls of fruit loops with sides of bacon. (Does it get more hipster than that?) Seriously though, it was awesome. And at the end of the day, I felt inspired, rejuvenated, connected, and grateful. Bye bye Sunday blues. Thinking about that day makes me smile and reinforces what I feel are my top values right now in my life: love, connection, creativity, adventure, and learning. When I have days that encompass these things I find that I’m more easy going and quicker to laugh and smile. I also sleep better and I don’t get headaches or have digestive issues. The mind-body connection is incredible.Our values are often times hidden in the everyday little things we love. Living in our values does not require as much time, money, or extravagance as we might believe. It’s nice to be reminded that we always have the choice to be with what it is that we love.