24 Values in 24 Hours

 

     Here is an early holiday gift from my heart to yours. Please go to http://changingminds.org/explanations/values/via.htm where you will find a list of the 24 core values that have been documented by Dr. Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth but why, you may ask, would I want you to go there to receive this gift? Simply because ’tis the season of giving and what the world needs now more than anything is a reminder of the values and characteristics that live inside of each of us and can be accessed anytime, anywhere. To be able to pay those values forward to everyone you meet. May we all be blessed with a very happy, healthy, honest, prosperous, authentic, truthful, judgment free, spiritually uplifting New Year.

     The year of 2017 will not go down in my life journal as the happiest one of all but I did manage to extract quite a few great memories that I’m very proud to have experienced. Is anyone’s year on point 24/7? I would say this year has been memorable, head shaking, woeful, twilight zone-ish for sure. I’ve learned that happiness is subjective so please search your hearts for the happiness you are seeking to extract from all that this year has brought to your consciousness. Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s my soulful evolution, maybe it’s the pounding into my gut and brain that takes place day after day of the stupidity, valueless behaviors and moral corruption that seems to swirl like a tornado around me more now than ever before. I’m not sure what exactly it is that has left me so confused and truthfully so scared. What I do know is that my happy life moments are curtesy of that which I keep coming back to time and again, that which grounds me and helps me choose to restart and not give up;

VALUES

What are values? Simply put, if each of us were a house, values are the foundation on which we build our house. From the time our personalities start to develop at a young age, we are creating and forming our individual values; those pillars of core characteristics that declare what we live for, strive for and believe; a guiding light, what makes us authentic and real.

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’ ‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit. ‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’ ‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’ ‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

     Author Dean Koontz, who wrote, False Memory, showcases one of his fictional characters that says, “Reality is subjective. Values and truths are subjective. Life itself is an illusion.” I agree and disagree with this character, fiction based or not, because in my humble subjective opinion core values, the pillars of magic that we have been blessed to carry inside of us and summon up throughout our whole lifetime, are the building blocks of our legacy. In the Velveteen Rabbit, author Margery Williams describes through her character, Skin Horse, what it means to be REAL. To love and be loved, that is a real value and a legacy. When we allow reality to be subjective without objectivity we risk damaging truth and love and quite a few other core values. Once those values are damaged our legacy is damaged as well.

Our legacy is our “why” and while our “why” is personal and subjective the pillars of the core value system stand firm and true; the value system is real. How we put those values into action, build those values, leave behind the truths of those values as examples is subjective. Please remember that we live in a country where we are given the freedom of choice and the more choices we have to make the more our values matter most. Imagine a world where we all respected the fact that each one of us governs ourselves based on the same 24 positive core value/characteristics? What a great world indeed.

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”Theodore Roosevelt

I Value You, You Value Me

“Values aren’t buses… They’re not supposed to get you anywhere. They’re supposed to define who you are.”Jennifer Crusie

The understanding of values has seen a huge uprising since the introduction of positive psychology by Dr. Martin Seligman. Dr. Seligman looks at values as core character strengths that consciously and unconsciously carry us throughout our life and help us to conduct ourselves with regard and worthiness. Sadly, we have seen way too many times this year alone how values have been discarded, disrespected, destroyed or never used at all.

Dr. Seligman discovered 24 core values that exist all the time. In one 24-hour day we make choices as to which core characteristics, values, we use to influence our decision making processes and the world around us. The values list is a positive list of every characteristic known to the human species. A warning however, for every positive that is extracted from these core values there is negative and it is those negative interpretations that have humans so muddled and backwards.

CHOOSE FIVE

Here is my next gift for you: Go to www.authentichappiness.com and follow the prompts for adults. It is free and only requires you to sign in to take this insightful survey. If you answer honestly, your top five (5) values in action will tell you where your values hang out right now. The beautiful advantage of taking this survey is that there are no wrong answers, there are no negative answers, only insight into what makes each of us unique. Here you will find the gateway to the foundation of your house, your most important “why” and your legacy.

“The goal of a life purpose is not what you will create, but what it will make you into for creating it.” Shannon L. Alder

If you find that you want a value listed to be listed in your top 5 but isn’t quite there yet then you have the freedom and hopefully the time to devote to raising your chosen value (s)to a higher level. Just know that whatever your initial top five values come out to be, YOU ARE AWESOME!!

So, in 24 hours, how does someone go about purposefully putting their 24, or at least their top 5 values into action?

  1. Keep the top 5 list with you at all times so that you can check in at least once per week. If it helps, expand the list you carry to 10 top core values.
  2. Take notes throughout the week to see how you are using the values that are listed. Do you notice that you are using some more than others most of the time? Do you notice that you are using a value that you initially answered as a less prominent value?
  3. Throughout each day make time to remind yourself of your core values especially when confronted with a challenge that requires putting your values to the test.
  4. Find a colleague or friend or mentor or coach or spouse that you absolutely trust and discuss your observations. Ask for help from these trusted people in your life to keep you on track toward your evolution.
  5. Create an avatar, a song, a design, a rotating screensaver or a static picture/drawing for your home screen or on your phone or on a large post-it note, one that represents your top 5 or top 10 values so you can get in the zone of becoming in consciousness what you know in your heart.

What an incredible opportunity you have to start the new year with hopeful purpose and deeper understanding of being your best self not only for you but for everyone around you. Just knowing that the values you choose to concentrate on are always right for you is a very freeing, wondrous journey. Remember that each of the 24 values exist in each of us all the time. We decide which ones we use most. If you need a go to person to help sort it all out just give me shout. I will be happy to help.

CALL TO ACTION

Where do your core values fall?

What characteristic (s) do you use most of the time?

How can your values list become your “why”?

In what ways are your values your legacy?

The Relevancy of Being Irrelevant

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Like leaves that thrive, explode with glory and wait patiently for its purpose again so is our relevancy throughout our lives; growing, glowing, transforming year after year.

I have a job; I feel relevant. I don’t have a job; I feel irrelevant. My children are healthy and making good choices; I feel relevant and significant in their lives as a good role model. My children are making poor choices again and again, exercising their free will; I feel irrelevant and insignificant asking myself where did I go wrong…and so it goes. Up and down like a rollercoaster, constantly. I think it’s called LIFE.

The dictionary defines the word irrelevant as unrelated to the matter being discussed or considered; not important; not applicable or pertinent; having no meaning or connection with the subject or issue.

Just reading those words makes me feel frumpy and broken and I don’t want to live in these words but sometimes I just feel impertinent and unimportant and like I’m not connected to anything or anyone.

Let’s turn it around.

What does it mean to be relevant? The dictionary defines the word relevant as the state of being closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand; meaningful or purposeful in current society or culture; a connection to the matter being discussed; having practical value or applicability.

I don’t think anyone who lives past age 2 can escape feeling irrelevant at one time or another. However, there is relevance to feeling irrelevant. In a nutshell irrelevancy has the power to allow space for pondering, changing, adaptability and transformation.

I am a mom. I was relevant to my children until they hit 2 years old and they discovered their autonomy by powerfully exercising their use of the word “no”. Oh what fun times we had as a family when the kids would say no to something. It is said in those lovely guide books about raising children that what you see from them at 2 or 3 or 9 years old will manifest itself again in more dangerous and powerful ways when they turn 12, 13 or 19 years old. I am here to attest to the fact that yup, all true.

I became irrelevant in a more powerful way when the kids became teenagers. They no longer needed or wanted to hear from me about anything. They knew everything and if they didn’t they would figure it out on their own. I went through a time of deep despair and depression when every word out of my mouth was ignored, seemed meaningless, disconnected from their perceived reality, not applicable to their situation because “things were different since I was a teenager”. You get the picture?

It’s a tough reality to wrap my head around when, whether with purposeful intent or random circumstance I find myself having to deal with transformation or change of any kind, in this case my children growing up, and asking the ultimate question, “what now”?

Transformation happens when we graduate from college or get married or become parents or change careers or retire. Sometimes transformations are wanted and happily accepted but most transformations take place by being forced on us or we are coerced into the changes that are taking place. At times transformations just happen. By natural design we are creatures of habit and we do not like when things change. Even if we are unhappy with the things we are doing we at least know how to manage our emotions within the unhappiness and tasks rather than throw it all out the window by choice and embrace the attitude of “Yippee !! Come what may”.

I started trying to turn my own mindset around when I got a job outside of the house and could no longer cater to the children’s needs, emotions and quirks full time. In my job I became relevant to the needs of the company and to the needs of strangers. I started to value my ability to learn, my ability to form relationships and to communicate and my ability to own my piece of the tasks at hand. When I started to apply my work mindset toward parenting, my children started to change too. (Shhh — Without their knowledge or permission).

In pondering the life moments when I feel my own irrelevancy, I take the down time to realize the many ways I strive to feel relevant and this list might help you too….

I stay true to who I am deep inside. I believed for so long that if someone would just teach me what they want me to know in order to do the job or task they need done then I could rise to their need and get it done. After all, I had years and years of experience doing just that as a parent. I stayed authentic to who I believed myself to be. If you are struggling with doubt about your own authenticity call me. Let’s get you coached around that because it is the key that unlocks many doors.

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”  ― May Sarton

I give. I give my time, my talents, my heart to whatever it is I am doing whether it be volunteering, baking, cooking, gardening, writing, conversing, listening, praying, playing, taking pictures or learning something new. I am “all in” everything I do. I achieve a sense of mastery for each time I practice giving. I become a master at kindness, compassion, empathy, relevance and become more and more authentic in the process.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”  ― Charles Dickens

I am action oriented. I absolutely hate sitting still for too long. I feel most productive and relevant if I am physically moving around getting things done or mentally stimulated when learning something new. Being an action oriented person also means facing fears I keep deep inside. My goal is to practice facing my fears and get to the end of my day with a list in my heart of all the things I gratefully accomplished and to feel exhaustively satisfied enough to sleep well.

“The best thing you can do is just do it, just face the fear and get it over with. How do you get the courage? You create your courage by just taking action…”  ― James A. Murphy, The Waves of Life Quotes and Daily Meditations

I consider my antonyms. It is a natural human defense trait that thoughts will first drift toward negativity before we seek to purposefully rein them in and kick negativity to the curb. Coaching has taught me a tremendous amount about my own inner power of turning things around in my own head. In this case, when I start feeling irrelevant I consider the opposite of my negative thoughts. I think about all the ways in which I am significant, relevant, necessary, valuable, useful, needed and worthwhile. On the chance that I still find irrelevancy within these words I think about and put into action all the ways in which I want to be all of these antonyms and where I can start.

“We each carry with us unique gifts, recognized and unrecognized. We long to harness those gifts in a way that gives life significance and helps us to matter more in the lives of others.”  ― Tom Hayes

I try to keep a child’s mindset or in other words I try to keep a simple sense of curiosity at the forefront of everything I do. Whether I am learning something new to be able to get a task done at work or asking questions to my clients to help open doors on their life’s journey or to my children to help them think about something more deeply, I am always curious on a child’s level as to the how or why that is at the heart of what is happening.

“If we are to use the words ‘childish’ and ‘infantile’ as terms of disapproval, we must make sure that they refer only to those characteristics of childhood which we become better and happier by outgrowing. Who in his sense would not keep, if he could, that tireless curiosity, that intensity of imagination, that facility of suspending disbelief that unspoiled appetite, that readiness to wonder, to pity, and to admire?”  ― C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism

As my children get older I have to face the reality that I too am getting older and I think about what will my relevance be once my children are on their own and no longer living in my home? For one thing I am taking back my own life and constantly seeking to create me. It matters to me that even though I no longer need to be physically relevant to teach my children I can be spiritually relevant as an example of how life goes on for me when they are not around.

No matter what stage of life I am in I am always, in one way or another, in transformation mode. I choose the word transformation over the word change because change can be such an ugly word and puts up red flags in my gut. I prefer transformation because that is a more accurate word to describe the big and small ways in which life re-creates, re-invents and re-generates itself constantly. The objective to winning in transformation is to go with the flow. A great example of this is my grandmother. By God’s grace she will be turning 100 years old this August. The normal thoughts when you hear about someone turning an unbelievable age like 100 is what keeps them going and feeling the pull to live?

We don’t live near each other and so we can’t physically see each other on a regular basis but I know through conversations with her or my mom that she never sits still. She still lives on her own, not in a nursing facility, she still drives a car, she still flies on airplanes to visit family at least 3 times a year, she still cooks and bakes, she still meets with friends on a weekly basis, and she still does her own grocery shopping. Three characteristics that keep her relevant is her optimistic attitude toward life, her faith and her curiosity toward life and transformation. She is about to downsize her living and will be moving to a new area, making new friends and forming new life habits. She is not afraid and knows exactly what she wants and how she wants to live in her new space. She is a shining example of relevance in my humble opinion.

If you are going through life moments where you find yourself questioning your relevance please consider that in each phase of transformation we become a clean page in the story of our own lives and have the incredible opportunity to start a new chapter and choose what goes onto our new pages. I hope these “call to action” questions will help you. Let’s open up a dialog about helping each other feel more relevant in every stage of life.

Call to Action

Where in your life right this moment do you feel irrelevant?

In what ways are you believing you are irrelevant?

What makes you feel relevant?

How can you approach your next transformation with a child’s curiosity?

What can you do with the life skills you have learned so far to help someone else and thereby inject relevance into your life and the life of someone else?

What are some new activities, skills or wisdom you would like to include on the new pages of your next chapter?

The Exchange of Presents Demands your Presence

Presents

Tis the season for presents/presence and there is no better time of year to practice both the giving of your heart as well as the giving of your attention.

Have you ever noticed, I mean really truly noticed that when you give a gift to someone you feel as excited and/or nervous to give as the person feels to receive? There is anxiety: will he/she really like what I chose to give, there is anticipation: Oh I can’t wait for him/her to open my gift, there is heart: I really paid attention this year to what he/she said they needed. If you are prone to just hand a gift to someone and allow distraction to take you away from the actual opening of the gift then you are missing out on all the magic of that moment. Being in the present with the person receiving a gift is a gift itself.

Where in your body do you feel this anxiety, anticipation and/or generosity?

In what ways is your energy transferring to those around you?

It’s an amazing connection, a coming together moment for the giver and receiver, where synchronicity is so aligned only the uninterrupted presence of awareness in the opening of the gift, the present, could break the bond. It is the height of mindfulness or intentional attention. How many times during the year do we use intentional attention in our daily lives?

“To allow ourselves to be truly in touch with where we already are, no matter where that is, we have got to pause in our experience long enough to let the present moment sink in; long enough to actually feel the present moment, to see it in its fullness, to hold it in awareness and thereby come to know and understand it better.” Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are

The question is how can we give ourselves the present of presence all the time? It’s a magical feeling to be so engrossed in the moment of giving that we don’t pay attention to time or space or what comes next. This deep concentration, this deep immersion of presence is called flow and scientists believe that the pathway toward inner peace and happier human beings is through these flow moments where we are so absorbed in the moment we occupy that there is no room for past or future. Author and psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Ph.D., considered by some to the be the father of the concept of flow, says,

“flow experiences occur in different ways for each person. Some might experience flow while doing a sport such as running or playing tennis and some might experience flow while playing an instrument. Some people might experience flow in the simple act of giving a gift whether it be an actual gift to unwrap or the act of volunteering and giving of their time and energy.”

If you are ever in a situation where you want to get a handle on what is happening in this exact moment, breathe. Practicing presence is as simple as deep breathing. Your breath is always with you and you can stop in the middle of everything you are busy with to take purposeful breaths and calm your brain and your heart and your spirit and create focus and intentional attention. There are more ways to give yourself the present of presence. Here are a few to take with you in your bag of goodies this holiday season:

“…the concentration is usually possible because the task undertaken has clear goals and provides immediate feedback.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Turn off your thinking mind and tune into your now mind. The health benefits of mastering being in the here and now are significant. According to an article published on www.ecoinstitute.org “these health benefits include a reduction in stress which we all know reduces the risk for heart disease, lowering blood pressure, reducing recurring pain, and is a boost for our immune system. This boost is accomplished by increasing our antibodies and brain function by our body’s response to our thoughts both positive and negative.”

You won’t be leaving anything important behind if: You let go of old thoughts or let go of what if thoughts. You will however be gaining awareness and color and vibrancy in the moment you occupy by accepting what is happening right this moment and all this moment is giving to you.

Let go of the Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda mindset: Each new moment that presents its gift to you has the ability to be a gift for your heart and soul. Give in to what is being offered by enveloping yourself in the passion, authenticity and energy of now. By letting go of your expectation of what the moment could or should or would bring, allow the moment to unfold in all its organic splendor and guide you.

No Restrictions. In helping my clients set goals and create their own avenues of accountability we create if/then statements. For example: A client wants to lose 10 pounds by the end of the month. The if/then statement might say, “If I feel like having a sugary snack after dinner then I will drink a hot apple cider or munch on an apple instead.” In the present or gift of presence this would be the one time when your prepared mind could hinder complete flow of enjoyment. Let go of the if/then thinking and align your mind with the here/now thinking. Notice how much more rich and emotional the here/now mind perceives life in its raw and real time. If/then changes your course and forces you to control the gift of the present which then has the potential to control the outcome. Here/now allows you to just enjoy flow in the moment for what it is without the stress of barriers or diversion.

Sense your way to presence. Play a mind game with yourself by paying attention to each of your senses, one at a time. This activity is great practice for presence and being mindful of the here and now. Pay attention to your breath, carefully watch how your hands touch things, observe what is going on right in front of you, concentrate on the smells all around you and see if you can name them, really dissect the flavors of your next meal, listen carefully when someone is speaking to you and try to detect the many levels of emotion being used in the conversation.

Purposefully create daily moments of presence. Go a different route home from work, eat lunch in a different location or pack a lunch that is different than what you normally eat, skip lunch completely and pamper yourself instead, take your hobby with you wherever you go and work on it at least once during the day away from home, learn something new today and bring it up in conversation. The opportunity for an awe moment is created in being present with intentional attention.

In the winter time I enjoy washing the dishes, even with dish gloves on because I am so comforted by the warm water cuddling my cold hands. It is a daily, year round chore but at this time of year the cold is a stark reminder of the blessing of heat. My appreciation level for warm water and keeping my family healthy soars. I find myself actually looking forward to this chore and instead of washing dishes 3 or 4 times a day t keep up with the mess I let it pile up so that I can spend real time appreciating the warmth. Bizarre, I know, but the presence it creates is magical.

“Wherever you are, be there. If you can be fully present now, you’ll know what it means to live.” Steve Goodier

Call to Action

In what ways can you create presence during present giving?

Whatever level you are involved in while preparing for this holiday season, how can you be more mindful of each preparation step along the way?

Even if you are alone, how can you be present rather than wishing the time away?