"Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values." — Ayn Rand
Close your eyes and take a few deep, full belly breaths.
Yes, really do it.
Now, with your eyes still closed, take a couple minutes to think of a time you felt fully content and in your power.
Go on, I'll wait.
Recall the event in vivid detail. Really feel into the sensations in your body and take in the surroundings.
What happened? What did you see? Who were you with?
Once you feel like you've taken in the full scene—fully felt what it was like in your body—settle back into the present moment.
What values were present during the scene you imagined?
When I recall a moment in time I felt content and in my power, I think of a specific day in July during the summer of 2012. My partner and I lived in the upstairs of a ramshackle house in Ketchikan, Alaska with one of my best friends and another close friend from college. The downstairs housed four rowdy boys, and all of us worked together, leading naturalist boat and hiking tours on an island, usually for cruise tourists.
It was rare that we would have days off together, but this was the one day that summer when no cruise ships were in port. All of our housemates, along with a number of other assorted coworkers, decided to hike the local Dude Mountain, still capped with snow even in the middle of summer. I'll spare you too many of the details except to say that the sun shone brilliantly over usually rain-drenched terrain, and the sights were saturated with color: deep mossy green hills, white patches of snow and brilliant blues of the ocean we could see from the summit of the mountain. We threw snowballs and laughed and got lost and a couple of us slipped and fell on the side of the mountain and for 2.5 seconds nearly believed we were going to slide right off.
Despite what momentarily felt like a near-death experience, I often think of it as one of the best days of my life—a day fit for Felix Felicis. And the day ended even better; four of us drove to the northernmost part of Ketchikan that night and snuck into a campground. We laid out our sleeping bags on the beach and watched the vibrant pinks and purples of the sunset fade into darkness—and then saw the sky light up with the most dazzling, electric green Aurora Borealis, the northern lights.
If we take my experience back to the question of values, a handful that are present are: community, friendship, movement, fun and nature.
And now that we've had that detour for some color and as an example of what we're looking for, let's get back to your own scene that you imagined.
I'll ask again: What values were present during the scene you imagined?
Either really take the time to consider these questions, or write down your answers.
On a scale of 1-10, how well are you honoring those values in your daily life right now?
Where would you like those values to be on that scale?
What priorities in your life do you want to make space for in order to honor those values?
How will you feel when you are honoring those values?
Just reading the questions won't give you any clarity.
Really take a few minutes to dig into your answers about how you're showing up currently and what you want to make space for.
There's no judgment in how you may or may not be currently taking care of what's important to you.
Values are dynamic, not static, and this is your change to gauge what your wants and needs are right now.
When you don't know where to start, start with what you value. When you're feeling lost, go back to what you value.
Really think about what you crave in this season of your life and what you can implement to make that happen.
Let your values guide you.