Hello and welcome to Friday, March 11, 2022. Today is a rare and precious day that will never come again. I hope that you make it meaningful.
Just how is it that we make a day meaningful? I was told that we make it meaningful by doing meaningful things.
One practice that has become a staple in my life is writing down what’s important to me. In the beginning, I was asked to list my values. Being almost 50 at the time, I can confidently say that up to that point in my life, I’d never actually prioritized my top six values. This practice is a game changer!
It turns out that if we are not absolutely clear about what’s important to us, our values and the personal qualities that we’d like to embody, we may find ourselves conflicted and confused about what to do with our one wild and precious life and how to behave in specific situations. Therefore, this week’s Mindfulness Support is dedicated to – taking inventory.
We first need to define, in writing, what it is that’s important to us. Just like a retail store, if we try to do this in our mind, we are eventually going to miss something or lose track of what’s on our shelves. What are the personal values and qualities that you want to stock? Do you want to offer your customers anger, resentment, self-pity, and envy, or do want to offer your customers kindness, forgiveness, confidence, and gratitude? These are your values.
It's important to note that these are your values today. While you likely have a value that has been with you for years, if not all your life, something like the relationship with your family, much of what is important to you today may not have been important to you five years ago. Our life’s circumstances changes, and when they change, so do our values. Therefore, this is an ongoing and evolving practice.
At this point let’s pause. I invite you to take out a pen and paper and write down six values or qualities that are most important to you – today. Please feel free to ask Google for a list of values. In the past, I have written down things like integrity, honesty, curiosity, service, understanding, and courage. But this is your list! Based on your life, as it is today, what is most important to you?
If you want to write to write down important goals and aspirations, that’s wonderful. Just please keep in mind that our goals and aspirations are not near as important as how we show up to them. For instance, if you want to be successful in your career and you resort to dishonesty and manipulation to get you there, this won’t support your overall well-being. In fact, you may find yourself unhappy when you reach your goal.
If we make decisions that compromise our values and qualities that we want to live by, we suffer. When we make decisions that are in alignment with our values, we’re making meaningful choices. This creates meaning in our life.
Creating this list is important is because it gives us something tangible to practice each day. As I say over and over and over, “what we practice we get better at.” This includes our values.
Now that we know what we want stocked on our shelves, we need an ongoing inventory. Unlike an actual retail store, our shelves have been pre-stocked with all sorts of goodies and some not so goodies. Though it will happen over time, in the beginning, we can’t just unload the crap we don’t want and be done with it. Unfortunately, they keep showing up. Therefore, we take inventory. In doing our inventory, we start to better understand how, when, why, and where unfavorable behaviors arise in our life. If we simply do this in our mind, we forget as the day goes on.
But we’re not just taking inventory of the negative behaviors that cause problems. Doing this is counter-productive and self-destructive.
So here is what we do: each morning, just as soon as you get up, decide on a value that’s important to you or a quality that you want to practice throughout the day. Today, mine is to be more attentive. Write your “intention” down on a piece of paper, in a small notebook, or even on your phone as a reminder. If your experience is anything like mine was in the beginning, by 10:00 AM I often forgot what my intention was. Today, I can pretty much remember my intention all day.
As you go through the day check in, in writing. I suggest checking in 3 – 6 times throughout the day. Note the things that you’ve done skillfully and the things that you’ve done unskillfully. There is no need to write a story. Just write a few words that will help you to remember the situation. I might write something to the effect of, “I missed a turn because I was daydreaming of going to Spain,” and “I listened closely when Lily was talking to me.” Short and sweet.
At the end of the day, but before you are too tired and exhausted to think clearly, review how you did. There is no need to be mournful about what you did wrong or gloat about what you did well, we are simply taking inventory and learning from it. What did you do well? What can you improve on?
For me and for many of those who I’ve worked with, this is one of the more difficult practices to develop. It’s takes a lot of effort to make this a habit! But the benefits – immeasurable! As you progress in this practice, you will find your shelves becoming cleared of the clutter you no longer need and will be stocked with the values and qualities that are truly meaningful to you. You will find yourself making better decisions, feel better about life and who you are as a person.
If you would like more information or some personal instruction to get you started, I am here to help.
You are Loved by me, Unconditionally!
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