Living Against Your Core Values | Resisting Happiness
How to live a happy life?
How to live a smoothly flowing and successful life?
Again, despite working so hard, why we don’t have much success yet?
Why do we fall back to our older selves despite progressing for a few days or months?
Why do we do the things that we don’t want to do in the first place?
What is the formula for our happiness and success?
This article will deal with these topics.
Our core values
Every human being has core values.
Some of us are aware of it, and some of us don’t.
For some, productivity, honesty, chasing our dreams, and health are the core values, and charity, wealth, and morality may be the core values for others.
If you want to find out your core values, you may write them down on a piece of paper.
But, this is something I don’t recommend.
Following a piece of paper to choose our action is like following a pre-determined list of activities.
Following a list is nothing but the imprisonment of our free choice of will.
So, the best way to know your core values is in the moments of choosing an action.
You will automatically know if some actions feel right or wrong.
If the action feels wrong, then it is against your core values.
If it feels right, despite boredom and difficulty, then it aligns with your core values.
Once you choose your actions according to your core values, you will feel calm and happy.
Once you live against your core values, suffering occurs.
Expressing our true self
But, choosing what is right is not always easy; otherwise, we all have become successful and happy.
Despite knowing something is wrong and against our values, we still do it.
Sometimes, we can’t stop our urges, anger, sadness, or other negative emotions that can lead to wrong choices that we regret later.
So, how can we choose the right actions every time?
We will discuss this by the end of the article.
When we live according to our core values, we express our true selves to this world.
Again, we often experience our true selves from time to time.
The person who takes responsibility for his actions, the person who completes his project on or before time, the person who takes care of himself and others is already in you.
This true self emerges through our actions, and you know how it feels like when you express your true self.
But, negative emotions, doubts, and urges shroud our true identity, and we express someone who is not us.
This fake someone likes to procrastinate, likes to eat pizza on a weight loss diet, doesn’t give time to his or her family.
We have lived with this fake person for so long that we think this is who we are.
We start believing that we are not good at anything, we cannot have happiness in our lives, and we cannot achieve any success.
So, How to express our true self?
Accepting what is not in our control
Suffering can only stem from what we want that is beyond our control.
If you want a sunny day, and if it rains, you can get annoyed because your plans for today are ruined.
But, the rain is not in our control, neither is the outcome of our work.
You can prepare for your examination, but you cannot know the outcome of your preparation.
Suffering occurs when things don’t go according to our plans.
Reality becomes too difficult to accept.
Failing to get that promotion that you have been expecting for a long time, failing to score better marks in your exams, failing to meet the expectation of your dreams, and all the other areas where things didn’t go as you planned can create suffering within you.
But these external events have nothing to do with your happiness.
You cannot control your supervisors for your promotion; you cannot control the examiners to give you full marks, and also, you cannot control the outcome of your action.
What we can control are our rational actions at this moment.
If we cannot control the outcome, why do we get worried about the future?
Why do we get stressed about the outcome of our actions?
Accepting reality is what gives you the strength to choose the right action every time.
Once we deny the truth, negative emotions take hold of us.
These negative emotions make us do things that we regret later.
The things we do because of our negative emotions often lead to another bitter reality that again is hard to accept.
This circle continues until we break them with our conscious mind.
Let’s understand this with an example.
My friend Joy plays a lot of video games every day.
He is 33 and unemployed.
He is unemployed by choice because he wants to pursue his career in writing.
Though he loves to write stories, he wastes his time playing video games most of the day.
So, when I asked why he plays video games, he replied, “I just want to relax a little. I know I am wasting time, but the stress is too much to bear, and video games make me relax. It is fun.”
He also mentioned that he doesn’t enjoy much playing games, but still, he plays.
He assumed playing video games was his addiction, but in truth, it was just an escape from his reality.
Once Joy accepted that he was 33 and there was nothing that he could change this fact.
He also cannot control the future, the events that are going to happen.
It is futile, a waste of energy to think about what will happen because things don’t happen according to plans most of the time.
The only thing he can control is expressing his true self every moment of his life.
Of course, he also knows that this may not be possible in the future, but it doesn’t matter; he has ‘now’ to express this true self.
Once joy starts to live with his core values, his life begins to change.
He still plays video games, but now he enjoys it and plays moderately because writing is more fun than anything else.
Judgment and external events
We learned that external events could not be controlled.
The outcome of our actions cannot be decided in advance.
But external events do affect our emotions every day.
It is not the external event that causes the stir in our emotions but the event’s opinion.
If you accidentally step on dog poo, you will get mad and maybe start cursing yourself.
It is already a shitty day because your boss yelled at you in front of everyone, and you had a small fight with your wife this morning.
Or perhaps, maybe your crush has accepted today to go out on a date, or you won the first prize in swimming today.
Therefore, stepping on a dog poo is not that bad for you.
You may even smile at yourself for not paying attention to the road and move on with your thoughts.
So, the same dog poo can make you angry and make you smile; why?
The external events cannot be controlled, but the reaction to those events is up to us.
Things will happen against our wishes; that’s how life works.
We cannot control the unfolding of reality every moment. It will happen on its own.
Resisting the reality is suffering.
Accepting reality is freedom.
Therefore, if you are already in a bad situation in your life, don’t get distressed by worrying about why it did happen to you.
It already happened, and there is nothing to change your past.
What you can do is, move forward and search for solutions to make progress in life.
Living with core values
This is easier said than done.
Everybody wants to do the right thing, but they don’t for some reason.
We procrastinate; instead of working on our project, instead of saying sorry for hurting someone, we stop talking to them because that’s easy, and instead of progressing in our life, we waste every day of our life.
Epictetus, the famous stoic philosopher, mentioned that ‘You will not notice that you are making no progress, but you will live and die as someone quite ordinary.’
Living with our core values takes effort and discipline.
Without effort and discipline, you will be a puppet of your negative emotions and urges and automatically do whatever actions you prefer.
Living with core values demands us to step between stimulus and automatic responses.
It demands us to notice that urge, think about it, and take the right action according to us.
But, how do we do it?
How to express our true selves in every moment of our lives?
How to live with our core values?
By developing your character.
It is not the skill or talent that makes a man happy and successful, but the strength of a person’s character.
Developing personal character
You can only develop your personal character by practicing voluntary actions.
There are four ways mentioned below to develop your personal character:
Basic and Priority
When we think about doing the right thing, we always focus on our priorities.
We focus on our dreams, going to the gym every day, making money, etc., which is right.
But, we forget the basics like making our bed in the morning or washing the dishes on time.
Why does it matter?
It matters because you cannot have two characters simultaneously.
If you are too lazy to make your bed in the morning, don’t expect to finish writing the novel you have been postponing for the last two years.
If you are living a life where only priority matters, then your life depends on external motivations.
You only do things when you feel motivated.
A person of character will make his bed in the morning, clean the room, wash the dishes because it is his responsibility to do it.
A person who takes responsibility for small things also takes responsibility for bigger things in his life.
The more you practice this principle, the more disciplined you will become on doing the right things every day.
You cannot live with your core values unless you know you are not living with your core values.
If your actions are automatic and impulsive, there is no way you can live according to your core values.
Mindfulness is the awareness of your thoughts, actions, and emotions.
Before taking a step because of a certain emotion, you can pause for a moment, use your reason, and can take appropriate action for that particular situation.
This is what mindful living is all about.
If you live mindfully, you will be aware of your anger, sadness, negative thinking, judgment, and other bodily functions.
It doesn’t mean you will take the right action every time because that depends on your will.
Though, to take the right step, we have to know what we are doing in the first place.
Mindfulness meditation is a beautiful practice to increase that awareness.
While practicing this meditation, you can pay attention to your thoughts and the present moment.
If your mind wanders, you will know sooner or later and bring it back to the present moment.
Though it takes time to improve your awareness, this will be a worthy investment of your time.
Things are going to happen in your life that are beyond your control.
No matter how much you wish or cry for certain events, you cannot change it.
Either you can accept the things, or you can suffer for long.
Acceptance is the practice of surrendering the unfolding of reality on its own.
It doesn’t mean you have a predestined life.
It only means the external events are not in our control.
The things that are in our control are our voluntary actions and judgments.
We can only prepare for the examination; the results are not up to us.
We can only give our best effort to achieve certain things; achieving them is not up to us.
It is like shooting an arrow.
We can aim, practice our best and try to shoot an arrow to hit the target.
But, once the arrow is released, there is no control left within us that can help further to hit the target.
Various things can happen once the arrow is released.
Perhaps a sudden gust of wind can change its direction, or maybe a bird flew in the direction of the arrow( unlikely).
The point is, the only thing we can control is how to shoot the arrow as long as the arrow is in our hand.
Once the arrow is released, we have to accept the outcome.
If you cry for the wind or the bird, this is nothing but stupidity.
Obstacle is the way
Everyone lives with their core values till the situation is favorable to them.
Once things go against their wishes and will, they start complaining that they are unlucky and God doesn’t love them.
But, obstacles are the best opportunity to practice your virtues/ core values to strengthen your personal character.
If you can do the right thing when things are against you, your personal character will start to change rapidly.
You become more responsible towards your life and others and can find peace and tranquillity within yourselves.
So, if things don’t go according to your plans, you know what you should do next time.
You always know what you should do.
That’s the quality of a human being.
Living with your core values will run your life smoothly and happily.
The only thing you need to do is practice.
It doesn’t matter if you fail to accept your true self until now; you can always start new.
It also doesn’t matter if you constantly fail to live according to your values.
The more you will fail, the stronger you will become.
Once you fail, analyze why you failed, think about it and try to do better the next time.