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Our Values: the happiness compass

Understanding our values and how we live by them should be one of the most common ways for us to reflect in times of struggle. Values are at the core of what makes us happy – what gives us energy and what takes it away. They represent what brings fulfilment in a person’s life and are often at the foundation of our internal balance. That’s why I like to call them the happiness compass. If you don’t know what your core values are, I invite you to invest the time, vulnerability and reflection to find out. Most probably your core values are not the ones that come to mind at first. They tend to be hidden below what we would tell our family and friends, and go deeper to the most intimate parts of our identity.

Values are not linked to “things” or to “having” or “losing”, they are a sense of being. Values are the emotional attachment we have to the events that happen to us. They are deeply connected to how we believe a good life is, and to how we believe life should be lived. Values are the “secret” rules that we have established for ourselves and the benchmark against which we would feel happy and satisfied from our life achievements. Based on these rules, we justify “wrong” and “right” and we recognize the purpose of our existence. The values answer the deeper question of “why” we do/feel/act the way we do. The values live in our subconscious, in our “gut”, where we would feel whether we live according to them or not. That appears on the surface as “being happy or unhappy”. Have you experienced a time when you worked hard to obtain certain thing or status, telling yourself that when you get that, you’d be happy and fulfilled? Yet shortly after the achievement, nothing much has happened to you, even the opposite, you might feel you have sacrificed yourself, made too many compromises and together with the pride of the achievement, you feel some bitterness. Then usually it’s difficult to really accept the compliments and you’d find it easier to speak about the difficulties you had to go through than for the fortune of your success. What is the reason for that? How have you defined the success and how happy you were supposed to be? Was that really what you truly wanted? Knowing your values usually would give you a better perspective and understanding to why you want certain things as well as what would be a fair price for you to obtain them.

By now you’re probably wondering what is actually a value. Some examples that come from experience with clients are: wellbeing, connection, joy, achievement, respect, justice, support, togetherness, belonging and many more. And yes, it’s true that these are all values that most people will find important. However, each individual has different preference and would easily compromise on some of them, while others would be of utmost importance. For example, what is more important to you – justice or support? Understanding your values is a deep psychological investigation of what do you actually value – what are the corners of your happiness compass and are you following through.

It has to be noted, that happiness as such is neither a value nor a real feeling/emotion. Happiness is the result when we feel satisfied with what’s happening to us, when our values are satisfied. Happiness is about our perceptions of the events happening in our life or our expectations of “how life should behave”.  I can guarantee you that when you feel happy is when you live by your values. In your values is the source of your balance or disbalance and where we can search for what is to bring fulfilment to you.

Understanding your values

Some cultures believe that values are the energy winds that move us throughout our life. If our sails are against those winds, we put a lot of energy to move forward and we might even “break” or change course (move backwards, get derailed, etc.). However, as they are part of our subconscious, values are often not that obvious. Value elicitation requires deepening where I can help you explore the source of what is truly important to you in your life/career/relationships. I have my ways to go deeper in your story and face you with your intimate self. At this point, you will start creating the list of your real values which might be the first time you actually discover how important some aspects of life are to you. Together we will find what is the actual priority of each of your values in the total value picture. When you have your prioritised values in front of them, it’s like you face yourself for the first time. Now, together we can explore the reasons of unhappiness/disbalance, the motivation of the client to move forward and what limiting beliefs are stopping them from progressing on their path. There are three key benefits to understanding your values:

  • Sustaining a life of value: It starts with accepting who you are, the real you, and maintaining awareness of how you feel in every moment of your day. The real you is not what you see, or the things you have achieved, nor the characteristics you bring as a human (fat/thin, black/white, etc.), you are the observer and the only way to gain awareness of yourself is to look inside (read more in “Solve for Happy” by Mo Gawdat). When you know what is it that you value about your being, it gets easier to manage your happiness – once you understand what the components of your happiness are, you would know when you’re getting off track. In the book “The Four Agreements”, the author rightfully claims that “once you feel what it means to live in a state of bliss, you will love it. You will know that heaven on earth is truth. Once you know that heaven exists, once you know it is possible to stay there, it’s up to you to make the effort to do it.” (Ruiz & Mills).
  • Connecting to your source of motivation: Daniel Coyle is a social scientist and a writer who tours the world to find what distinguishes the best players from the good ones; what is it that they do in a unique way. He concludes that talented people “have one thing in common: they all spent thousands of hours inside a deep practice house, correcting errors, competing and improving skills. They each took part in the greatest work of art anyone can construct: the architecture of their own talent” (The Talent Code by Coyle & Farrell). I’m sure that all these talents had something similar in their value system – the value of mastery and precision; the value of achievement and improvement; the value of purpose and creating impact. When the goal of a client is well aligned with their values, little can stop them from achieving it. When we are fuelled more by intrinsic desires, we are less concerned with external rewards and more with the inherent satisfaction of the activity itself. It is a renewable long-term resource of motivation and is depended on three elements of drive: autonomy, mastery and purpose (Drive by D. Pink). All of these elements are connected to having awareness of one’s values and the ability to express/live according to what truly matters for that person.
  • A map for limiting beliefs: Knowing your values will make it easier to identify the beliefs you have that are not in line with your values. In coaching and psychology, these are called limiting beliefs. When some part of the mind has objections to certain thoughts and actions, and another part supports the actions of the opposite thoughts, an inner conflict occurs and you will start feeling demotivated, confused, agitated or stuck because none of the obvious options will seem attractive. Solving these inner conflicts between what you value and the association/believe that value has for you, is the only way to accept yourself, understand what is that you actually needs, and find your way forward.

With your values in mind you can see clearly what is not going well in your life, recognise that you are compromising with what makes you happy and therefore, make the commitment to change that reality. Clients are also able to better communicate what makes them happy (or unhappy) not just with me (as their coach), but also (and more importantly) with the people around them. Something magical happens inside the client when they understand their values – they start trusting their “gut feeling” more, having a tangible proof that they are to follow their instinct of moving on; it’s like they feel the “risk” is justified because what they are after is in line with what they truly values. The ultimate freedom we are looking for is the freedom to be ourselves, to express ourselves. In order to do that thou, we need to first understand who we are, what are we made of, what is truly important to us so that we can set ourselves free from all the rest that doesn’t serve us.

Are you now ready to find out what your values are? Book the Value Finder package.

Also, you can always reach out for a chat so that we can together define what you need best.

Together we achieve YOUR goal!

By Tania Tasheva, Divo Coaching

1 thought on “Our Values: the happiness compass”

  1. Can I simply say what a comfort to discover someone who genuinely understands what they are talking about online. You definitely realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of your story. I cant believe you arent more popular because you definitely possess the gift.

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