As a life coach, some of the most valuable exercises I do with clients consciously connect them to their values using recollections of peak experiences. I ask clients to visualise a time when they felt really alive and to get interested in the details, asking questions to help them recall as much as possible about that moment and what made it so wonderful. Then we work from that, exploring what values were being honoured in that moment. For it is when we honour our values that we feel most alive. We use them as an internal navigation system that helps us live our lives more authentically with a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment.
But the other day I became aware that I was feeling really content, and I realised that we should get interested in our happiness when we experience it, not only after the fact, when we might feel the pang of bittersweet nostalgia. After all, we're very articulate about what makes us unhappy: this food isn't very nice, I'm too hot, it's too crowded, I don't like being talked to like that. But we are less consciously aware of what makes us happy in the moment.
So get interested in the details of the moment next time you are feeling really happy. Ask yourself
- What's going on here to make me so happy?
- Where am I? Inside or outside?
- What can I see, hear, touch, taste, smell?
- What am I doing?
- What am I being?
- What am I wearing?
- Am I with others or alone?
- What am I doing with other people, what is the interaction and the relationship between us?
- What can I feel on my skin?
Then ask yourself, "which values am I honouring here?" It could be connection if you are with friends, or love of learning if you're reading a really great article that fires up your mind, or intimacy if you're in the arms of your partner, or flexibility if you are enjoying going with the flow. For a fuller list of values see here. Remember, the same experience can connect you with different values from someone else, so take care to land on the one that really resonates with you. For instance, one of the elements that made my moment great was hearing some really great soulful music. What made me happy about that was the connection with my body and simultaneously with something bigger outside of myself. I call that value "embodiment", although someone else might be resonating with a value of "mastery" on hearing musicians at the top of their game.
Get interested in your happiness, lock in what makes you happy and explore the elements so that even if that exact situation never comes again, you can more consciously steer yourself to those experiences in which you are living your values.