One of the cornerstones of reducing your stress is to know what you value-what's most meaningful in your life. Yet when our life is all about completing the millions of tasks on our "to do" list we often lose our perspective. We lose our ability to discern between what's important and what's not because everything feels equally urgent - equally critical.
No matter how frantic life gets, no matter how much frenzy seems to be present, the most successful people are able to rise above the pandemonium and maintain their perspective. They can do this because they know what's important. Their values are their compass—they keep them on course regardless of the chaos and confusion of life. These people maintain a vision of what truly matters, what their life is about and what they want it to be.
By clarifying your values you can adjust your life so that you invest your time and energy in those things you hold sacred. Yet in order to do this you have to ask yourself what do I value? What's most important to me? These kinds of questions will not only help you to understand yourself on a deeper level, but ultimately to refocus your life around what's truly meaningful. As strange as this may seem, it's actually less important to understand the meaning of life itself than it is to understand the meaning of your life.
Think about your core values and principles. Ask yourself the question, what matters? What have you found yourself saying to the world over and over through your life? List the qualities and attributes that you consider essential to living your best life. These are the values you use to define yourself. For example your list may look something like this: Integrity, honesty, playful, understanding, trustworthy, responsible, true to myself, creative, adventurous. Remember these are just a few suggestions. There are many more possibilities. Be sure you come up with a list that reflects your core values, not what you think you should value, but what you feel is truly important to you.
As you read over your list how do you feel? What did you learn about yourself? Where you surprised by anything? Now ask yourself, how are these values reflected in your current life? Which values are you neglecting? In what ways would your life be different if you honored these values?
Now that you have a clearer picture of what you consider important there's a good probability that you'll begin to think about what needs to change in order to have your values expressed more visibly in your everyday life. Is there anything you need to add to your life? Are there activities or commitments you need to eliminate?
Evaluating your values is the foundation for reducing your stress and leading a life you love. The next time you're faced with a decision ask yourself, "Is this decision consistent with my deepest self, with what is most meaningful in my life? Use this question as your compass to keep you true to your core beliefs.
I offer you this challenge—remain focused on who you truly are, what you believe in and what you love. As you do, you will begin to create a life in which your outer life matches your deeply held values and beliefs. This feeling of being all of a piece is an essential ingredient in living the life you were meant to live.