One of the most common things I hear in my practice is a desire to increase happiness. We, myself included, get caught up in the day-to-day of living and wonder if we're really living the lives that we dream about or hope to have. When this comes up, my go-to skill is determining how you can live more of a "value driven life."
Living a value driven (or value based) life is a common intervention for overcoming doubt and increasing life satisfaction. Psychologists have been talking about and researching it for years, and it has recently become more commonplace in corporate employee wellness programs. It has even become part of self-help programs for individuals without any type of mental health disorder. Living a value driven life has shifted from being a skill for individuals with mental health difficulties to being a skill for literally everyone. So then, how do you do this?
- Identify 5 values that you want to frame your life around. Ask yourself, how do you want people to describe the way you life your life? Do you want to be remembered as honest, responsible, kind, etc?
- Make a plan for how you can better fulfill at least one of those values today and throughout the week.
- Go do the plan.
- When faced with choices, remember your values and make the decision that best lines up with those.
Simple, right? Usually, the answer is yes. However, there are inevitably going to be times when two of your values conflict with each other. For example, what if you really don't like someone, and they ask you to spend time together. How do you be both honest and kind if honesty suggests you should tell someone you're not interested and kindness suggests you should spend time with a person who enjoys your company? In these moments, take stock and ask yourself if you can in fact live by both values (perhaps there is a kind way to be honest). If there is truly no way to live out both of your values, then decide which one is more important to you in this moment. In the end, you are hoping to make a decision that you can look back on without regret since you will know that you lived your values the best that you could.
Bring this practice into your daily life, and you are likely to experience more happiness and less guilt and anxiety about decisions. Enjoy!