What In The World Does Valued Action Mean and Why Do I Need A Diary For It?
Let’s start with a definition. Values represent who we want to be in the world or what qualities we would like to bring to our daily interactions. In some ways, they represent us when we are at our absolute best.
For example, I feel I am at my best when I am teaching others, striving to be a better person and showing love and affection in my relationships. On days when I bring those values to life, I go to bed a happy man.
Although you might think that living a values consistent life would be an easy thing to do, many of us go through our days in a way that would not be of our choosing.
Here are a few personal examples to illustrate how values-based living can be hard:
– Striving to be a better person makes me feel anxious
– Showing love and affection in my relationships makes me feel vulnerable
– Being patient involves me being less productive
– Progressing in work requires me to do public speaking
– Learning reminds me of how much I don’t know
– Caring for others means experiencing loss
– Working hard means doing jobs that don’t make me happy
However, despite sometimes being difficult, the more we live a life in line with our values, the greater our sense of fulfilment in the long-term.
That is the reason for this diary; to remind us, each day, how we would like to be in the world, in the hope that it will positively affect our decision-making.
A recipe for living well?
‘It is not how long you live but how you live’. I hear that saying in movies all the time and it is a great message but, in my opinion, it can easily be misunderstood.
Stay with me here.
Imagine Jonny, 29 years old, lying on his deathbed. He says to his friends:
‘I won’t have lived long but I have lived well – I went to the best parties, I travelled the world, I got my dream job and I met the most beautiful people’.
Sounds like Jonny had a wonderful life. When you see the words ‘it is not how long you live but how you live’, you might look at Jonny and put a tick next to his name.
Now imagine Rebecca, 29 years old, lying on her deathbed. Rebecca grew up in a financially challenged area. She just about managed to get through school and got a job afterwards in a workplace that still employs her now. She says to her friends:
‘I won’t have lived long but I have lived well’.
One of her friends, in a moment of misguided frankness, responds with:
‘Really? Because you haven’t travelled, you struggled in school, your boss treats you poorly and you haven’t met anyone special’.
Rebecca smiles and says:
‘…. every day I tried to treat people correctly, to care for others and to work hard. I’m proud of who I have been’.
If the statement ‘it is not how long you live but how you live’ refers to the concrete things one has accomplished then only a small percentage of people will feel satisfied when they are on their deathbeds.
Because life is tough and many things are out of our control.
For example, I would love to take my wife and son to Disneyland. However, as much as I desperately want to make this happen, and as much as I feel I am letting my family down, we can’t go to Disneyland any time soon because of some historical and current contexts that are largely out of my control i.e. money.
However, if ‘it is not how long you live but how you live’ refers to bringing to life values of our choosing every day, then we all can control ‘how we live’.
For example, what is probably underneath the desire to take my family to Disneyland is a value to have fun with the people I love. Well, I don’t need Disneyland to have fun – I can choose to bring that value to life with my wife and son, in small and large ways, every day.
Make every morning be about who you want to be in the world.
Knowing and being reminded of your values will change how you act in your average day in a way that will bring you fulfilment:
– It will give you more patience with someone you might snap at
– It will help you take more notice of someone who is suffering
– It will help you get out of bed when you feel down
– It will help you persist for longer in tasks that are difficult
– It will help you to love more fully
In other words, the more you move your feet in directions of your choosing, the less of a barrier your stress, your anxiety and your depression will be.
When I was growing up, I learned a poem from a book that my Grandma gave me. It went like this:
It is easy enough to be pleasant when everything goes like a song
But the man worth the while is the man that can smile
When everything goes dead wrong.
I think that that sentiment is relevant here. If we can live a life that is in line with our values as much as we possibly can, in this unpredictable day and age when so much can go wrong, then not only will we sleep better at night but the world will probably become a better place too.
If you’re ready to start living a life in line with your values then our diary is designed to help you do just that.