As human beings we are constantly making choices about how we are living our lives. This may include how we spend our time and money, who we spend time with, what work or trade we engage in, what we consume and place in or on our bodies, what organizations we are members of or active in, and more. This means we are constantly acting upon our values and priorities, whether we do so consciously or not.
Many of our values and priorities are things we have embodied unconsciously at earlier points in our lives. We may be using values modeled by our parents or peers, or ones that we embraced when we began to identify with a particular group or belief system (e.g. a religion or political philosophy). It is natural for these to evolve over time as our personal beliefs and identity evolve. The way you live your life now may be significantly different than it was 5 or 10 or 20 years ago. Nevertheless, patterns in our lives often contain a momentum or inertia that leaves us caught in a rut or living in a way that does not support our well-being or allow us to become the person we would like to be.
When we are feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, or overly stressed in our lives we may need to review our values and priorities and how they have influenced our path and our choices in life. If we fail to change our fundamental beliefs and thoughts it is hard to make lasting changes in our lives. When we examine these patterns we can look at some key categories to see how we relate to those topics:
- Career: Are we pursuing a trade or career based upon talent, passion, status, financial reward, family tradition, or other factors?
- Relationships: How much prominence or attention do we give to romantic/intimate relationships in our lives? What about to other relatives such as parents, children, siblings, etc? What about close or casual friendships?
- Hobbies and pastimes: How much energy do you devote to your personal hobbies and interests?
- Altruism: How much time and resources do you commit to helping others (including assisting individuals, organizations, animals, etc.), and do you sacrifice your own needs or desires in order to aid others?
- Self-Care: What commitments do you make toward your own well-being, such as diet, exercise, meditation, pampering, rest, vacations, reading, and self-improvement?
- Spirituality: In what way do you connect or relate to a higher power or greater reality - where do you find inspiration, meaning, and purpose in life?
Different people have different life paths and different tendencies or archetypal traits. Some people may be intensely focused on spirituality, becoming a priest, rabbi, monk, or a devout follower of some religious tradition. They may withdraw energy from other parts of life in order to pursue that area. Other people may be focused on climbing a career ladder and as a result neglect close relationships or personal health. Still others may devote themselves to romance or creative passion but live an unstable life of impoverishment. There are many varieties of human experience. One of the greatest challenges of human life is finding balance. Taking time to calmly review and reevaluate our lives gives us an opportunity to build self-awareness and make healthy changes that will bring us greater balance and fulfillment.