How to Be Happy: Find Purpose and Meaning: Know What’s Important to You; Know Your Values

How to Be Happy: Find Purpose and Meaning: Know What’s Important to You; Know Your Values

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Have you ever wondered if you are truly happy or not? Do you know how to be happy or how to be happy in life? What is it that makes people happy, satisfied, and fulfilled with themselves? Or how to be happy with yourself? Many of us today want more and more to be happy, but do you know how to be happy with what you have?

Maybe you just want to be happy again and are probably wondering: “How to be happy again?”. Well, we all want to be happy in life, we all have desires to be fulfilled, and we all want to have a true purpose that gives us joy and drive at the same time.

Happiness looks different for everyone. For you, maybe it’s being at peace with who you are. Or having a secure network of friends who accept you unconditionally. Or the freedom to pursue your deepest dreams.

Regardless of your version of true happiness, living a happier, more satisfying life is within reach. A few tweaks to your regular habits can help you get there. Habits matter. If you’ve ever tried breaking a bad habit, you know all too well how ingrained they are.

Well, good habits are deeply engrained, too. Why not work on making positive habits part of your routine?

In this article, we’ll explore the basics of “how to be happy”, and how to find purpose and meaning in life by knowing your values and staying true to them.

Your values become your destiny. – Mahatma Gandhi

Happiness Habit:

Review Your Values now and again, review your values; your core values, and your secondary values. Nothing in life remains the same; what is important to you in a job or a friendship may not be the same today as it was a few years ago. Be aware that your values may change according to changes in your life. Be prepared, also, to modify your values according to different circumstances.

Also Read: Five Self-Care Ideas for Managing Mental Health and Increasing Wellbeing

I.      How to be Happy Tip #1: Have a purpose in life

And to be happy, then, you need meaning and purpose in your life; but how to be happy like a child without worries of tomorrow, and memories of the past? And, how do you find meaning and purpose?

To stand any chance of finding meaning and purpose we need to first understand what’s important to us; we need to start with our values.

We all have values, and we each have different values. Maybe you’ve not given much thought to what your values are, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have them. Quite simply, your values are those things that are important to you and give weight to the way that you live, work, and relate to other people.

What have your values got to do with being happy? And, do you know “how to be happy” without your values? In different areas of your life, when what you do and how you live matches your values, things will just feel right. What you do and how you live will feel compatible with what’s important to you. And that will help you to be happy.

II.   How to be happy tip #2: Learn values and morals

As we grow up, we learn values, morals, and rules for the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to be and behave from our parents, family, and friends, our school, community, and culture. It’s likely that the values you internalized as a child will have remained with you through adulthood.

Core values such as truth and honesty, kindness and fairness are, of course, always admirable and worthwhile. However, other values that you may have been brought up with – ambition and achievement, success, excellence, and perfection – may not have proved important to you; maybe the values of spontaneity and adventure, risk, and courage were more appealing.

Or, it could be that you were brought up in a family or culture where the values of self-discipline, self-reliance, persistence, duty, and respect were paramount. Although you haven’t rejected those values, your priorities are more in line with the values of empathy, belonging, care, and kindness. Or perhaps creativity, the pursuit of beauty, harmony, and peace are more important to you.

What core values were you raised with? Or, what did your parents value, and what values did they impress upon you? What values were reflected in the way you were rewarded or disciplined? Are your current values the same as those you grew up with? Have you consciously dropped some values from your upbringing and adopted different ones?

Usually, adolescence is a time when – in your efforts to forge your identity (who you are) and your social identity (how you fit in with others) – you question and reject some or even all of the values you were brought up with and establish your own.

But maybe you’ve never questioned the values you were brought up with; you’ve simply accepted them and created your life around those values. That’s all well and good if you’re happy, but if you’re living your life or parts of your life according to values that you don’t believe in, you may well feel conflicted, out of balance, and unhappy.

It’s not just the values your parents impressed upon you that have an impact; the values of your culture and society have a strong influence too. The pursuit of wealth and material goods, academic qualifications, status, and power, winning, being popular, and being attractive have become dominant values in much of Western society.

Too often, too many of us subscribe to these values in the mistaken belief that they are the only route to happiness and success.

You don’t have to make your life look like anybody else says it should look. – Dee Rees

III. How to be Happy Tip #3: Pursue your values

If rather than pursuing your values and doing what you think is important, you’re living a life that’s dictated by others – according to values that are not truly yours – it’s a struggle to be happy because you’re going down the wrong path; you’re going in a direction that takes you away from what’s important to you; what makes sense and has meaning to you.

No doubt you’ll have heard the exhortation to ‘be true to yourself and may have wondered, as I used to, what exactly that means; how can you be true to yourself? Well, when you’re living your life in ways that are in line with your values, when you’re doing what’s important to you – not what you think you ‘should’ be doing or what other people think is important – then you’re being true to yourself. You’re being real, genuine, and authentic. Admittedly, being true to yourself will present challenges and difficulties, but, ultimately, you’re living your life in a way that reflects who and what you want to be.

The top regret that people expressed? ‘I wish I’d dared to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.’

The first thing that stops many people from living a life that’s true to them is the fact that they haven’t identified what is true to them; they haven’t clarified what their values are; what’s meaningful and important to them. So, identifying your values is the first step towards living your own life; living a life that’s true to you.

IV.   How to be Happy Tip #4: Identify Your Core Values

What are your values? To help you identify these, here is a list of some common core values. Tick any that are important to you. Add any you think of that are not included on the list.

  1. Accountability
  2. Achievement
  3. Adventure
  4. Affection
  5. Altruism
  6. Ambition
  7. Amusement
  8. Appreciation
  9. Approachability
  10. Approval
  11. Balance
  12. Beauty
  13. Belonging
  14. Calmness
  15. Care
  16. Certainty
  17. Clarity
  18. Commitment
  19. Compassion
  20. Confidence
  21. Connection
  22. Consistency
  23. Continuity
  24. Contributing
  25. Control
  26. Cooperation
  27. Courage
  28. Courtesy
  29. Curiosity
  30. Decisiveness
  31. Dependability
  32. Determination
  33. Dignity
  34. Directness
  35. Discipline
  36. Discretion
  37. Duty
  38. Empathy
  39. Enjoyment
  40. Equality
  41. Excellence
  42. Excitement
  43. Fairness
  44. Family
  45. Fidelity
  46. Freedom of speech
  47. Frugality
  48. Fun
  49. Generosity
  50. Gratitude
  51. Harmony
  52. Honesty
  53. Humility
  54. Independence
  55. Integrity
  56. Intimacy
  57. Justice
  58. Kindness
  59. Loyalty
  60. Open-mindedness
  61. Optimism
  62. Peace
  63. Perfection
  64. Persistence
  65. Popularity
  66. Privacy
  67. Professionalism
  68. Punctuality
  69. Reliability
  70. Respect
  71. Security
  72. Self-control
  73. Self-reliance
  74. Simplicity
  75. Sincerity
  76. Spirituality
  77. Spontaneity
  78. Stability
  79. Structure
  80. Success
  81. Support
  82. Trust
  83. Truth
  84. Understanding
  85. Unity

Once you’ve been through them, narrow down your list to between five and seven values. These are your ‘core’ values; your most important, essential values.

Some of your values are likely to be personal values:

Values that are concerned with how you behave and respond to situations; values such as optimism, clarity, privacy, or security. You will probably also have social values – values such as compassion, fairness, cooperation, reliability, or honesty – which concern the way you interact with other people. And, you may have more personal values than social values. You may have more social values than personal values. It doesn’t matter – whatever your values, they are what is important to you.

V. How to be Happy tip #5: Interpret and Better Understand Your Values

Once you’ve identified your core values, give some thought to what each of those values means to you. Different values mean different things to different people, so it’s useful to define what each value means to you and how it relates to your life.

You might find it helpful to write it down. The process of defining, in writing, what each value means to you can help you further clarify what it is and why it’s important to you.

For each value, answer these questions:

  1. What does the word (the value) mean? What does the dictionary say this word means? Do I agree with that definition? How would I describe to someone else what this word means to me, how it applies to my life?
  2. Why is this value important to me?
  3. In what way is this value currently a part of my life? How do I live this value? If, for example, kindness and compassion were my values, how, where, and when am I able to be kind and compassionate?
  4. Do I need more opportunities in my life to live my core values?

VI.   How to be happy tip #6: Secondary Values and Goals

As well as core values, you also have secondary values. Secondary values are those things that are important to you in a specific area or aspect of your life. Your work, for example, is an area of your life and so you will have work values: beliefs about what’s important to you in a job.

Your relationships with your partner, family, and friends are other areas or aspects of your life. So you will have relationship values: ideas and beliefs about what’s important to you in a friendship or relationship with a partner or other family member.

Knowing your core values and secondary values in different areas of your life can help you find meaning and purpose; help you to identify goals and have things to work towards and aim for.

In the upcoming articles, you will read about how all the areas of your life – friendships and relationships, health, work, finances, your home, hobbies, and interests – have the potential for you to create sense, meaning, and purpose; to have aims and goals.

Of course, identifying values and goals is just the first step. The next steps are to work out ways to pursue the goals and then ways to manage the challenges that will inevitably arise.

P.S. More about that we will discuss later in our upcoming posts.

Related: How to Stay Healthy and Happy: The Habits of Being Happy

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