Friday, October 28, 2011

My Take On "Happiness"

I took my 2 kids to the local library the other day and while they were choosing which dinosaur books to borrow out, I came across this book called Delivering Happiness written by Tony Hsieh CEO of   He talks about the importance of core values in work and life, and its impact on happiness and performance. It was a very interesting read, and it had inspired me to post this article on "My take on Happiness".  So here it is.......

Ultimately, everyone's goal is to be happy.  So how can one achieve this?

To put it simply, people are happy or at least, content with their lives when their perceived "reality" is congruent with their "core values"/expectation.

So in essence, in order to be happy, you have two options.
  1. To create a reality which in line with your core values/expectations or...
  2. To change your core values/expectations to fit in with your life.
So as you can see, for you to be happy or content, you will need to know what your core values are.

So what are core values?

We all have "layers" of values just like the layers in an onion.  Some layers are deep and are very hard to change, and we refer to these as  "core values".  Some layers are more superficial and easier to change, and I like to refer to these as "surface values".  Sometimes, these layers of values are in conflict with each other and hence, can lead to a lot of internal conflict and stress.  For example, if you have a core value, "Life should be fun with freedom and autonomy" and also, "My family life is very important to me and I need to be responsible", you can easily see that at times, this will create some internal conflict.  By knowing what your core values are and the conflicting values, it will give you a chance to either change it, prioritise it, or accept your core values as they are.  Often, we cannot have our cake and eat it too.

So, where do our core values come from?

Core values generally come from your genetic makeup, temperament, what has happened to you in the past, how you have been raised, your friends, your role models, your past traumas, your past successes, and last but not least, media and Hollywood.

Self understanding is very important, so take some time to know what your Core Values are. 

Ask yourself these questions?
  1. What are my core values on relationships with my partner, wife, husband, friends and families?
  2. What are my core values about work?
  3. What are my core values on issues other than myself eg society and community?
  4. What are my core values on spiritual growth?
  5. What are the "layers" of my core values and do I know their hierarchy so when one core value is in conflict with another, do I know which one will override the other in order to avoid inner conflict?
  6. What part of my core values are not being fulfilled?
  7. Are my core values realistic and achievable, and if not, will I change it or just accept it.
The answers to these questions will help and guide you to live a life with meaning, purpose and congruency.

As core values are often "subconscious", it is sometimes surprisingly difficult to work them out.  I will talk about ways in my next post on "How to work out your core values".  One of these strategies is a process we call in psychology, "digging deeper" by asking "why?"