Brooke Broadbent, MA
You've seen them - people who smile from ear to ear and seem to exude inner peace. Do you know how they got that oh-so-good feeling? Chances are that they figured out what was really important to them and began living true to those values.
You’ve seen them–people who smile from ear to ear and seem to exude inner peace. Do you know how they got that oh-so-good feeling? Chances are that they figured out what was really important to them and began living true to those values.
How would your life change if you began to live more in line with the values you believe in? How would you improve your health, your relationships, and your quality of life? What would you begin to say no to? Doubt? Fear? Addiction? What would you begin to say yes to? Self-confidence? Love? Empowerment?
Most of us can find personal contentment by practising one simple technique. As Eugene T. Gendlin explained in his groundbreaking book Focusing (Bantam, 1978, 1981), the body knows the whole of each context and we can begin to change our lives by listening to our body wisdom, the messages the body sends the mind.
Finding Body Wisdom
As a first step to understanding how this technique works, identify your body's messages at a time that you feel content and fulfilled. Create a picture of a favourite activity in your mind's eye. Maybe you love canoeing in the early morning mist. Or savouring scrumptious food with your soul mate. Or playing crazy eights with your grandkids.
As you contemplate the memory of that moment, answer the next questions and you will make a giant step on the path to personal fulfillment. What made the situation special for you? What did you see, taste, smell, and feel? What values were you living? Were you connecting with others? Learning something new? Growing as a person? Loving well?
Slow your mind and take some time with this exercise so that you begin to find the values that are important to you. Take a deep breath. Picture the fulfilling situation again. Scan your body. Identify the feeling in your body. Linger with the feeling. Where is it in your body? Is it warmth? Pleasure? Excitement? Something else?
Do you now understand your body's power to tell you when something is right for you and your values? With practise, you can use your body's messages to create the life you seek.
So Why don't We Do It?
Why do we sometimes let doubt, fear, and addiction run our lives? Research by neurologists Antonio Damasio and Michael Gazzaniga reveals that our brains explain experience in ways that have no foundation in reality. The more attention we pay to our negative thoughts-"I'm going to get it wrong," "I don't deserve this," "I don't really know what I'm doing"-the more likely it is that destructive mind chatter will lead us off the path to fulfillment. We can learn to say no to our negative thoughts by figuring out our values and by following a values-driven path.
Pinpoint the underlying values you are living the next time you feel content and then make a point to keep living that way. As you become conscious of the sense of fulfillment you create from living and loving your values, you will consistently choose a values-driven path.
Living a life based on your values is a radical act. Others will have different plans for you. They will think they have your best interests at heart, but they might not know your values as intimately as you do. Only you can pinpoint what you want for your life. Others can help-in a supporting role. Explain your values to them. Talk with them about the sense of fulfillment you feel when you live your values.
8 Steps to Living True
To find fulfillment by living your values, follow these eight steps: