Life Lessons

Unearthing Your Values

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So in the previous post, we spoke about defining our personal values so today we’re going to delve deeper into the topic. To figure out our personal values we need to answer the cliched question of who we were before the world told us who we should be? And that’s not easy. It requires taking a very deep look into our lives, rummaging through the closets in search of any hidden skeletons, opening doors we’d rather pretend they never existed. We’d need to look deep and search for two things in particular; the crossroads and the non-negotiables.

The crossroads 

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost
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The crossroads are those life-altering moments where we chose one road instead of another. While there might be many crossroads in our lives-and some might be major mistakes we wish we could undo-there are others that felt right the moment we were taking that first step. Maybe society tried to tell us we were crazy to make the choice we did, and yet we knew deep in our hearts it was the right choice, and eventually things turned out all right. So look at those moments and try to unearth the values driving those decisions.

The non-negotiables

These are the little rules and regulations we’ve set for ourselves in our work, life, relationships…While some of them might be inherited from society and need to be modified or upgraded, there are some that resonate with our very cores. d regulations. We might not have explicitly written them down, but we have them lying somewhere in the back of our minds.

Maybe they sound something like,

“People come before things.”

“Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

And most importantly, “Thou shall eat a banana every day of your life.

The non-negotiables usually direct you towards the values you most likely embody, and if they don’t – like the banana one – maybe they need to be removed from the list.

Some people might want to do this hunting-for-personal-values with a friend or a family member, and that’s actually good as it helps create harmony between friends and family. However a couple of things that need to be noted are:

1) Your personal values must be yours, not theirs. Don’t put something on your list just because it’s on theirs. Also back every value with a personal story to show it’s something you care about.

2) Because it’s deeply personal, and it might require you to open up the deepest part of your soul, and be vulnerable with somebody else, don’t just trust anybody with this exercise. As Brene Brown advises, “Only share your stories with the people who earned the right to listen to them.”

I remember when I first heard that line, it baffled me. I wondered, “How does somebody earn the right to listen to your stories?”

After perusing a lot of Brene’s work, I came to realize the answer is simply, “Look at how they react to your not-so-important stories at first. If they react with judgement, sarcasm and apathy, then they probably do not deserve to listen to your deeper stories. The reaction you’re looking for from others is usually empathy; someone telling you, I have been in your shoes – or I can imaging being in your shoes – and I totally understand.”

Then there are others who might do this exercise alone using the writer’s best friend and worse enemy; a blank page. You might start unearthing your values using prompts such as answering the following questions:

  1. What did you enjoy doing as a child?
  2. Describe a person you really admire. Why do you admire them? What qualities do they exhibit?
  3. If you went to Hogwarts, which house would you have found yourself in and why? Alternatively, if you were in the fictional world of Divergent, which faction would you have been in?

Whether you’re doing this exercise alone or with a friend, the steps are simple;

    1. List down your value  – e.g. kindness 
    2. Explain why it’s important for you –e.g if people were more kind, the world would be a better place so I want to start with myself
    3. Back it up with experiences from your life that show you embodying the value – e.g. the last time I showed kindness was when I helped that person with something
    4. Brainstorm ways of exercising the value everyday – e.g. get ideas of doing kindness from websites like randomactsofkindness.org

Feel free to share your personal values in the comments section below. Like this article? Share it with your friends on Facebook

Original post appeared on http://ahscribbles.com/unearthing-your-values/

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Quotes image: quotesgram.com

6 Life Lessons Learnt from Packing

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Recently I’ve had to pack my life into boxes, and I realized I’ve done that at least eight times in the past decade (AUS dormitories required us to clear the room every year so that partly explains the bloated number), but still…I realized that the process of packing can teach you a few life lessons if you pay attention to it.

1) One box at a time. While some people are into last-minute packing, I started one week before and just packed one box at a time. That made the task less stressful and daunting.

http://www.comindwork.com/weekly/2013-11-11/productivity/eating-an-elephant-one-bite-at-a-time
http://www.comindwork.com/weekly/2013-11-11/productivity/eating-an-elephant-one-bite-at-a-time

I don’t know who came up with the question in the picture above, but my immediate answer whenever I hear, “How do you eat an elephant?” is usually, “First tell me, why would you want to eat an elephant?”

But this elephant thing is a famous analogy for breaking up big and daunting tasks into pieces and focusing on each part one by one. It’s usually useful -with the right level of motivation. Sometimes it’s the low level of motivation that makes us start tasks on the last night before a deadline and then we realize that “Oh well, we don’t have time to finish it so…”

2) Books are heavy. I’ve always dreamt of owning a personal home library, but to have a personal home library one has to first have a permanent home. So an obvious solution to the accumulating book problem is not the easiest for book lovers, but we have to do it anyway; DONATE. For those who don’t know what to do with their books in Abu Dhabi, there’s The Book Shelter in the Circle Cafe in Khalifa City A, and from what I understood they have a branch in Dubai.

So we understand how heavy books can be physically, but the information contained within them can be analogous to weights for your mind muscles. It’s true that sometimes you have to plow through a three-hundred page book to get one single idea, but then that idea could transform your life…over and over and over again.

So keep reading, and for those who keep on packing their lives into boxes every few years, get a kindle. It’s a good investment.

3) Cleanse, detox, declutter…. Whether it is donating clothes, or getting rid of expired items, packing is always a good time for dumping some things into boxes and then dumping the boxes out. The life lesson is obvious here, get rid of whatever it is that is not working for you anymore. Sometimes it’s a habit, other times it’s a toxic relationship…be efficient and be relentless.

4) Don’t look inside other people’s boxes. It’s easy for us to compare our lives with the lives of others, especially with social media around. But comparing your life with that of others only lowers your self-esteem and makes you doubt your choices. So instead of peeking at what other people have in their boxes (figuratively of course), just focus on yours. Focus on your own roles, your own relationships, your own life. I’ve written about this before; the only person worth competing with is yourself.

5) Celebrate the small wins. Once you’re done packing, sit back, make good use of one of those boxes and use it as an ottoman as you sit back and put your feet up.

6) Last but not least, just let go. Packing teaches us how little we really need to survive, to carry over from one stage to another. It makes us really distinguish between the needs and the wants, the essentials and inessentials. We realize we actually can live without  things we used to think we cannot live without…all we had to do was actually get thrown into a situation to try.

Wake Up and Save! Really?

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This image brings a smile to my face because of the contrast between the huge billboard ad and the man walking underneath it. On one hand, the ad tells you to wake up and save by buying a queen size bed with 2 free bedside table for around 1300 USD (or 4800 AED), while on the other hand, the man is awake (and could be actually saving – if not making money) by carrying cheap mattresses over his head.

Now I am not fully aware of the purpose of this man’s mattresses. Maybe he just bought them and he is taking them home (without having to spend money on the transportation). Or maybe he is taking them somewhere to sell. Whatever the purpose, I find it an interesting lesson about how there are some people in life who talk the talk without walking the walk, and others who walk the walk without talking the talk.

#JustSayin

The Day I had to Take my Coffee Black

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The other day I ran out of milk and had to take my coffee black. I remembered one of my friends who never understood those who drank their coffee with milk because milk masked the true taste of coffee. So I ventured and took a sip of my black coffee.

And I winced.

It was bitter.

But by the third sip my tongue had gotten used to it, and it made me think about how sometimes in life, a major crisis might hit us hard and blindside us, yet with time we learn to adapt the way my tongue adapted to the bitter black coffee. Such major crises – like the sudden loss of a job or the separation from a loved one – present us with an opportunity to stand back, take stock of the important things in our lives, fix our priorities, return to the drawing board and starting over from scratch. But more importantly such crises help reveal our true essence; who we really are. So when the clouds lift, we might realize that these events have helped us grow in ways we never imagined was positive, and it is only then that we learn to appreciate them.

As for the black coffee, it served its purpose well by inspiring this post, and after that I simply went back to having my coffee with milk. Some habits die hard.