One of the hardest things to do is practice our values on a day to day, moment by moment basis.
We can say we value having love in our marriage, faith in a greater power, or kindness towards those around us. Yet, how many of us can actually say with confidence that we practice our values every single day, every single moment? I still can’t say I do.
If we are honest and introspective enough, we will find ways where our aspiration does not match up to our daily action.
This discrepancy is not a result of not wanting to live our values. The reality is that it is hard to do so. I find that it is not only hard to practice our values in difficult situations, it can simply be hard to remember them (as in, what they actually are).
A great example are my values of mindfulness and presence. One of my goals is to bring more mindfulness to my every day. I also want to become more aware of my presence in a given situation and what type of energy I bring to the interaction.
For a while, I searched for ways to keep these values top of mind. I tried writing myself notes, carrying something in my wallet, even turning to technology and downloading quite a few apps. But nothing seemed to work. I remember thinking about this one day as I was brushing my teeth and getting ready for the day ahead. At that moment I understood why people got meaningful tattoos on their bodies! Could I get something on my upper arm?
What I was searching for was a structure that will support me in achieving my goal. Structures are incredibly powerful tools; I highly recommend you begin to use them in your life. Structures sharpen our focus and remind us to do the actions that help us achieve our goals. Because at the end of the day, our job, our family, and all of our to-do’s WILL get in the way of our goals. It’s our responsibility to find ways to stay on track.
Due to this, I want to share three structures that I’ve put in place to support me in better practicing my values.
Three powerful life structures
1. Morning coffee and pastry. I have a structure in place with my family where every Saturday morning, almost always without fail, my husband, son, dog and I go to our local coffee shop and have breakfast together. It has become an incredible structure that helps us practice our values of connection, family, and ultimately love. It is built in our schedule as an activity that is expected to be done…Only an emergency is allowed to disrupt this ritual.
2. Meaningful bracelets. Instead of getting a tattoo, I opted for collecting bracelets that represent a value I want to honor. A few of the ones I have:
a. A bracelet with a Hamsa, a gift from a friend for protection, blessings, power and strength. It reminds me of the abundance that is out there and not to play small in life.
b. A bracelet with the Greek Key pattern, which represents infinity and the eternal flow of things. It reminds me that nothing is permanent. That good things will come, and bad things will come, and not to get too attached to the present…or to the past or the future.
c. A bracelet I got on a trip to Turkey with an Evil Eye pendant, a reminder that unfortunately there will be people in life that will not have my best interests in mind, a reflection of their own frustrations in life, and to thus trust my own instincts and voice.
3 . Morning pages. I write three pages of free thoughts early in the morning. Sometimes the sun is not out when I write. It usually takes me just 10-15 minutes…Yet those minutes are magical. With just a small investment in time, I unburden myself of many of the thoughts that are bothering me. The benefit of this? At best I do not take them with me throughout the day, at a minimum I become aware of them and am more mindful when I respond to someone, versus reacting from angers, resentments, or fears that I may not be aware of. This structure helps me practice my value of kindness, something that can be incredibly difficult to do in trying situations. I shared a bit more about morning pages here.
So there you have it; three ways I support myself in living my values.
We often “just” want to “live” our values; we want it to just happen without much thought or work. That is never going to happen. Please understand that: It will never happen. You do not just become a pro athlete or a master in any field without intentional practice over the course of many, many years. And that is what structures help us do. A bit of practice, day by day, strengthening our muscles.
Remember (and share on Facebook):
What YOU can do TODAY:
- Identify a value you want to live more of on a day to day basis (even a moment to moment basis).
- Think of a creative structure you can put in place that will support you in living this value. I recommend you make your structure something that is playful and/or something you look forward to doing. If your structure is not something that makes you happy and brings joy to your life, you will never do it.
- Do it. Build the structure and follow through in practicing it. There will be days you will not want to do it. You are going to want to skip it. You are going to find excuses. You are going to want to be lazy. Do it even when you do not want to do it. When you use your structure in those times when you do not want to, those are the times that will make all of the difference. Those are the times that you will be strengthening a muscle that will help you live a life with more happiness and peace.
I hope this article is of service to you.
Do you know someone who would benefit from creating some good structures in their lives? Share this article with them, or share it with your friends and family so they can also start creating the life they want to live.
Do you have structures you’ve put in place that are helping you live a better life? If so, let me know what they are in the comments below. If you have a question, pleas share it and I’ll get back to you with a response.