Dear Beautiful Souls,
Take a moment to consider this simple question: Why do you do the things you do?
The simplest reason for any action is to respond to what’s going on around you. A friend sends you a text, and you answer her. Your child skins his knee, and you comfort him. Your boss asks you to plan a meeting, and so you do.
Other times, we choose our actions because they move us toward our goals. We’re saving to buy a home, so we forgo the expensive vacation and spend the holidays at home instead. We’re working toward a degree, so we study late at night even though we’re tired.
Any of these actions can be positive. Taken together, they can seem to be moving us in the right direction. But sometimes life seems to stall. In spite of our good intentions, our hopes may not come to fruition. Have you ever wondered why that is? Have you considered that maybe your goals come from a place of "should" instead of real desire?
The key to living a fully realized life is to pay attention to a third kind of motivation: values. These are ways to be, not things to do. A goal is a destination; we can arrive there and yet be unsatisfied, feeling unsure where to go next. Values are like directions on the compass; we always know which way to travel. They define "how: we want to live our lives. Of course our goals and reactions matter very much, but they are always more powerful when they are driven by our values. Our values express the states we essentially want to be in. Every action, large or small, can be an expression of what matters to us.
Each soul comes imprinted with a unique signature blend of states, including its own ways of being in the world and its own ways of expressing its goodness. Of course, each of us has access to a wide range of morals, but within that field lies a smaller set of qualities that especially define the life that we, as individuals, are meant to lead. Our values are our own intended states of being.
Values include positive emotions and frequencies. For example, my personal values are freedom, beauty, truth, joy and service. These are the qualities that I most appreciate in others and seek to cultivate in myself. I consciously design every aspect of my life in order to fulfill these values. I ensure that I have flexibility in the way I manage my time, I make my environment beautiful, I constantly ask questions in pursuit of the truth, I practice hobbies that bring me joy, and I look for ways to be of service to others.
Your values provide a vision for your best possible life. They function not only singly but as a group. Each value contributes its own complementary piece to a holistic picture of the life the Divine intends for you. Values define the soul’s distinct essence, and your soul thrives in this life as it finds ways to be in these states. The soul seeks situations, environments, and experiences in which it is being its fullest self. In fact, finding your own unique ways of being is one of the three major needs of the soul.
Knowing your values is essential to true happiness and well-being. So, I encourage you to reflect on your values and focus on the ones that are most important.
To work for you, your values must be authentically yours. They are as personal as your fingerprint. As you consider your values, let go of any notions about what other people value or what you think you “should” value.
You’ll know you’ve identified one of your values when it provides a certain feeling of resonance and expansion. By the same token, you can sometimes pinpoint a value by noticing what gives you a feeling of “wrongness” and then asking what would be the opposite. If you are offended by someone else’s callousness or disregard for people who are vulnerable, perhaps compassion is a central value for you. Sometimes seeing what you don’t want will inform you of what you truly do want.
Here is a simple exercise to help you clarify your values. You’ll need a piece of paper and a pen.
- Sit in a quiet place and take a few deep breaths. Let your soul expand within your body.
- Think about a time when you felt happy, content, or satisfied. Allow yourself to savor the memory, recalling the sights, sounds, and smells.
- What word would you use to describe your state of being at the time? Write it down. List all the feelings that come to mind as you recall.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you like. You can also do the same by recalling a situation that you felt offended or upset to give you a clue for what you stand for.
- Now look at your list of words. If there are more than five, are any similar enough that one word could stand for both of them? If there are still more than five, circle the five that are closest to your heart.
When you’ve finished this exercise, you will have identified your top values. Post them somewhere you’ll see them daily. I would suggest creating artwork or creative lettering to help them integrate into your present life. Your values may evolve as you continue your journey through life, so you may wish to repeat this exercise once a year.
By consciously recognizing the soul’s values, you invite into your life tremendous joy and growth in all areas. When you infuse your life with your signature ways of being, your choices are true to your soul, and every action becomes an authentic reflection of who you really are: a unique creation of the Divine. This becomes the first step towards a surrendered life where you align to Source, your values and what you seek to express in this world.
Action item: Take time to identify your top five values. Then bring them to mind at least once a day. How do you feel as you allow them to guide your actions? How does your life change? Share your experience in the comments below.
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