Values: Your North Star to Greater Happiness
By: Dr. Kathleen Costello, MS, DC
Life can get a little crazy at times. Have you noticed? Many of us have navigated more change in the last two years than perhaps in the last two decades. We all have had to make difficult decisions and been asked to pivot our lives in ways we may not have anticipated. Amid change, we all need a North Star. We need something to guide our decisions and give us hope when times get tough.
The North Star, or Polaris, is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor. Due to its position on the North Celestial Pole (NCP), Polaris appears to remain stationary hour after hour as the earth rotates on its axis. A traveler needs only to measure the angle between the northern hemisphere and Polaris to determine their latitude. This provided a handy tool for sailors and travelers in the past. For those of us navigating modern waves of change, what is our north star? The answer is simple: Values.
Our individual values determine how we show up in life and what motivates us. Our values provide a measurement, much like the North Star, to direct the actions we take to live a life of meaning and purpose. Are you unsure of your values? Now might be a good time to identify the core values that matter to you. They’re different for everyone and therefore, provide unique guidance for each one of us. When we live in accordance with our values, we feel aligned and happy. When we are not living from values, life can feel unbalanced and unfulfilling.
Values are fairly stable, yet they can evolve and change over time. It is important to keep in touch with them throughout your life to see if you’re still in alignment. Living in accordance with our values is not always easy but is absolutely worthwhile. If kindness is a value, it may direct the way you respond to a difficult co-worker. If fairness is important, it may inform the way you raise your children and how you teach them to be equitable.
Here are some simple ways to uncover your values.
- Identify times when you felt happy and balanced in your work and personal life. What contributed to those feelings? How did those feelings effect your actions and behaviors?
- You can also identify times you felt proud and the actions you took during those times.
- Lastly, you can look to people you admire and see what values they exhibit.
You can use the list below to identify 5-10 values that stand out to you. Once you’ve identified a set of values, you have your unique North Star. You will never be lost in the sea of change again.
You can measure your actions in accordance with your values and take pride and solace in knowing you are on the right path even if the going gets tough.