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How Learning Values Improved My Mental Health

photo by fabian hayes
What's important to you?

This is a question worth asking yourself especially if you just had a hard time answering it.

The things that are important to you are what you essentially value the most–love, friendship, family, your children, connections, your job, creativity, it all shapes a piece of who you are when you identify these things as something that you care for above all other things.

So why are we talking about this?

Because some of us are trying to clean up the messes in our lives. Some of us are confused and need clear direction as to where we are going and how to get there. We also need assistance with building our confidence + self-esteem as well as management over our mental health, time, finances, relationships and other lifestyle stressors.

And that's not all. A lot of us have a goal of attaining happiness and prosperity in life. We want more and better for ourselves and we want to continue to make healthy decisions that bring us closer to our destination.

Knowing what's important to you and building your values is a stepping stone towards having a healthier mind, letting go of baggage and functioning at your highest capacity because you are aware of what is meaningful within your surrounding culture, and you can easily identify what does and does not belong in your space. You gain a sense of clarity over how to make better decisions, and when you make better decisions you also choose better behaviors, you are influenced differently, your habits change and you are mindful of your emotions and the things that you react to.

I find that it is easy for people to tell you what they want, but it's hard for them to identify the things that they value. I blame this on living in a culture that teaches you to always hunt for more even when you feel like you are fully satisfied. Nothing is ever enough because we are taught to want everything. So when we attain the things that we thought would grant us a sense of wholeness or happiness–we realize that there is so much more to be attained and we retreat back to our baseline feeling of minor happiness and not being fully satisfied. We are too busy chasing after, and being distracted by, the things that we don't value because we are taught that that is how life works.

Everything is not for you nor will everything you partake in benefit your growth.

So how do we define our values?

  1. Create a core list of virtues such as love, grace, compassion, connection, etc. and draw upon the experiences in your life that relate to when you felt these emotions. I'm sure this can be a lot to manage, so do yourself a favor and buy a journal so that you can begin taking notes of these experiences. Once you jot these things down dig deep to clarify why those particular moments were of value to you, and made you feel how you felt, whether the feeling was good or bad both emotions are meaningful and will help you to understand its worth and importance in your life.
  2. Continue to create your core list of virtues and as you navigate through this list also consider some of the moments that you have not created for yourself yet. Think of this as a bucket list. It's a way to figure out what you truly want for yourself, and after you create this list you can now determine how to get where you are trying to go or accomplish what you are setting out to do. We learn values through experiences, but we can't value something that we never had. 
How does a value system improve your quality of life? 

This goes back to the idea that everything you partake in is not for you, and can either be uplifting or consequential for your growth. It's important to know what matters to us because our passions and values plays a role in how we thrive in life. You make better decisions for yourself when you are clear about what your desires are and this serves as an essential to prosperous living. 

Our behaviors and habits change when we begin to function out of a role of doing things because they are meaningful, rather than doing things because we feel forced or obligated to. When you operate out of pureness you gain a greater sense of confidence and you no longer seek to fit in the box society has created for you. Life becomes more satisfying and your happiness is not dependent on your deeds and accomplishments, it comes from something that is actually meaningful, something that is important to you.

When I made a decision to remove certain people from my life, I began to prosper in ways I never did before. I value meaningful connections. I value being able to spend time with people who allow me to be myself and pour encouragement and positivity into me daily. Having connection as a value system has played a huge role in helping me to decipher who I share myself with and who is not deserving of being in my space. With that I got rid of negative people and I saw myself grow in many different ways.

My health is also something I value. My struggle with depression causes me to be alert and aware of the things that I do on a daily basis that I never payed attention to before, like how I'm eating, exercising, praying and meditating and giving myself permission have bad days. When I began to give my health the special attention it deserved, I found new ways battle my bouts with sadness and manage my anxious feelings. This slight change in my mindset trickled down to a change in my behaviors which is overall improving the quality of my life on a daily basis.

So think about what you value, what's important to you, what is sacred and deserving of your time, energy, finances and space. Knowing this will push you to excel and thrive in all avenues of your life. 

This is stepping stone to being a better you. 

Share some of your values with us below!

Written by,
Minaa B.

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