Maybe I’m just getting old, but I really don’t have patience for things that don’t resonate with my heart. I feel like I have spent a lot of my life doing the expected. There were bills to pay and a family and lifestyle to support. Or at least that was the excuse I used to justify staying in some jobs where I really wasn’t happy. I also found myself energized enough times by my career aspirations, which became an internal motivator. However, now in my life, professional goals are taking a back seat to personal accomplishments. If it doesn’t match my value barometer, then it’s not worth the time or energy.
Values are those things that are foundational to one’s being. They are your truth. They guide (or should guide) the decisions you make in your life. They come from your head but ultimately speak from your heart. They guide your spiritual practice on a daily basis.
When you resonate instantaneously with an action, or a belief, or another person, or a lifestyle choice, then you know you are operating in alignment with your values. If you find yourself at odds with a decision you have made, or feeling uncomfortable with a behaviour or action of your own choosing, or a lifestyle direction, then it’s time to re-evaluate which of your values may not be honoured or served by your present circumstances.
Jim provided me with a wonderful example of someone operating in complete alignment with his values when he came back from our newly gutted cafe and announced he felt renewed, alive, and incredibly happy. He feels like he has been offered a new lease on life, by embarking on this adventure that speaks to so many of his passions around food, lifestyle, and the environment.
That’s another key element. Not only are his values in alignment with his actions, but his actions are addressing elements of his life that are important to him – health, well being, education, and esthetics. Jim’s values are holistically complementary to his vision about life.
So how does your life measure up to your values and your life vision? Move beyond the obvious such as wanting to lose weight or make more money. Start with your values and consider to what degree you are honouring them on a daily basis.
List up to 10 core values that have meaning for you and then stream out other words that branch out from your core values:
Family/love/humour/children/get togethers – 6/10
Integrity/respect/honesty/reliability – 9/10
Health/food/exercise/vitality – 8/10
Once you have written all that you can think of, then narrow the list down to 5 maximum. By streaming words off of each core value, you may find some redundancy in your list of 10, as you see many of your values are captured as sub-components of each core value.
Rate the final list of values you have out of 10 – with 10 signifying you are honouring your values at a very high level and 1 would signify you are not. If you look at my list of values above, you can see that even though family is one of my foundational values, I have not been honouring family to a satisfactory level. So I rated myself lower on honouring that value. Also, considering how important family is to me, then I need to look at how I incorporate some of the elements of ‘family’ into all aspects of my life – e.g. booking time to spend with my grandkids, or making sure we have books/toys for children in the cafe, or going and visiting my mother.
By giving voice to what’s in your heart, you begin to live in alignment with your vision. Your values start to define your lifestyle. If family is important to me and I want to honour family in my life, then family will be a part of decisions and choices I make. If integrity is a component of what I value about how I work, how I am viewed, and what I expect of others, then I need to be clear not only in my words but my actions, so that people can feel honoured and respected by me, and feel that the service we provide (for example) in the cafe is reliable. And if health is intrinsic to my daily life, then I need to ensure I am eating and exercising and living in such a way that promotes health, which definitely figures heavily into the food choices I make not only for me but others I come in contact with.
I urge you to consider doing this exercise whether you are uncertain about making a decision, feeling uncomfortable in your skin, confused by an emotion that keeps arising within you, or if you are just curious.
Then answer the following:
- What surprises you?
- What does this exercise confirm for you?
- What next step are you willing to make, after seeing the results?
Low Fat Spanish Rice
• 1 cauliflower
• 3 Tbsp sun-dried tomato powder*
• ¼ tsp salt
• 1-2 green onions, finely sliced
• 1 red pepper, finely chopped
• 2 celery, finely chopped
• 1 zucchini, finely chopped
• 1-3 tomatoes, finely chopped
• 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
• ½ – 1 tsp paprika
• Juice of 1 lemon
In a food processor finely grind cauliflower. Pulse with salt, sun-dried tomato powder, and any spices. Put into a bowl. Mix in chopped vegetables and peas and lemon.
Can sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour prior to serving or eat immediately. Serve alone or as a side dish, or stuffed into half a red pepper with a fresh green salad.
* To make sun-dried tomato powder, take sun-dried tomatoes (dry not packaged in oil) and dehydrate until very dry (1-2 days) and then blend until a powder. If they are very dry, you do not need to dehydrate them. Store in a jar in your freezer and use in recipes calling for an enhanced tomato flavour. The powder thickens and richens the flavour of sauces.