STOP STRESSING -BE HAPPY!
A convoy of six jeeps rumbled across the Sinai desert, raising a cloud of dust in its wake. Arriving at the edge of the barren coastline, the platoon of tourists from Sharm El Sheikh jumped out to gear up for a shore entry dive. Minutes later, only CNN’s coverage of Operation Desert Storm boasted a greater quantity of photography equipment than this dilettante group of marine photographers.
Once underwater, we were off to the races. Weight-ridden divers with cumbersome equipment raised an opaque curtain of silt as they frantically finned to fight gravity. Glove-covered hands grabbed onto live coral for stability. My diving buddy, who along the others in the group knelt on the seafloor, were absorbed in framing, focusing, and snapping pictures through their viewfinders.
“I didn’t sign up for this feeding frenzy,” I sighed to myself. I was beginning to regret giving in to my well-meaning mother’s push to trade my usual solo vacation for an excision with a group. Reluctantly, my goal for this adventure became to socialize by joining the crowd. However, pillaging the world’s best dive sites was not part of my agenda–even to placate my mother.
Stressed by the herd’s rambunctious behavior, I decided to break the number one rule in scuba safety: never dive along. By distancing myself, I strived to get what i value most from this sport: a deeper connection with the marine world.
Propelled by an occasional thrust of powerful fins, I glided peacefully along the turquoise sea. Away from the murky waters created by the photographers, I gleefully observed the sun’s penetrating rays refract off the white sandy bottom. Suddenly, the “sun” went out. At the speed of thought, I debated before looking up:
“Whoa!! Must be a boat….”
“Nope. No engine.”
“Turn around and look.”
“Not sure I want to.”
“Oh, GO AHEAD!”
Rotating onto my back so I could see what had blocked my light, I found myself only an arm’s length under a magnificent giant manta ray. The ginormous sea creature resembled the spacecraft Enterprise in Star Trek. Awestruck by its whiter-than-snow luminosity and its wingspan of 4mt/12ft with a tail equally as long, I closely studied every detail of its underside anatomy as we slowly glided in unison across the aquatic universe.
Time might have stopped had the clanking sounds in the distance not snapped both manta and I out of the spell and caused the creature to veer away suddenly. Dazed, I looked toward land and saw the cavalry of underwater paparazzi charging toward us. The mantra, with a triple flap of its wings, disappeared into the open sear at warp speed.
Feeling privileged by having experienced this remarkable encounter, I acknowledged that I always get what I value. Actually, WE always get what we value. The challenge to our ability to recognize this point,however, arises when we fail to distinguish between our real and internalized “should” values, and to honor the former every time. Happy as could be, I headed back to shore.
- How often do you stress over what you’re still trying to achieve in life, only to ignore what you truly value and already have?
- Have you ever considered that perhaps you already are wildly successful based on your real values?
- Imagine the impact on your mindset and life quality if you were to acknowledge, appreciate, and accept your real values.
Believe it or not, you already are successful beyond your wildest imagination. Here’s why:
— Success is deeply personal. Because success comes in many forms, the only configuration that meets you’re deepest needs is unique to you. YOUR real values represent this signature configuration.
— You don’t need to be cognizant of your real values to live by them. Based on your life’s experiences, your real values are deeply rooted in the subconscious as a form of higher intelligence that runs the show by influencing your decisions, actions and choices.
— Your LIFE reflects your real values. By “life” I mean the one you actually have, not the life you wish you had. How you spend your time, energy, mental creativity, and money, as well as what you recurrently visualize, think and talk about reveal what you perceive is most important, and thus a real value. Lack of discipline, broken New Year’s resolutions, the attempt to keep up with the Joneses, and unfulfilled goals represent internalized “should” values. Real values, which drive our achievement and happiness, trump “should” values.
— What you truly value and what you have accomplished thus far is the same thing. Long-term, no one is motivated by anything other than his/her own values. Paradoxically, given the inestimable worth of your real values, you rarely can see them. Why? Because your real values are so important and so big, they actually form the backdrop in your life’s theater stage. Only if you were to lose, or risk losing, your real values could you instantly recognize or realize their true worth.
— Having what you deeply value doesn’t mean you’re “done.” From working with my most successful clients, I know that most high achievers need to feel that they are not successful enough because that perceived achievementgap keeps driving them forward. I’ve come to discover that this insatiable need actually works in a different way.The adage, “Yesterday’s meal cannot satisfy today’s hunger” does not imply dissatisfaction with yesterday’s meal (or accomplishments); it means that you are ready for another meal/achievement to nourish and sustain your growth. For every void you fill, every value that’s met, and every goal you accomplish, a new one is created to replace it. This process is what propels self-growth.
Over How do you identify your real values? Apply any one, or any combination, of the three techniques below:
- Take a personal inventory. To discover what your life demonstrates, list your top three answers for how you spend your time, energy, mental creativity, and money, and what you visualize, think and talk about that lights your heart on fire. Then look for recurring patterns among your 21 answers.
- Imagine the opposite. Believe it or not, you’ve got it good right now. To demonstrate how this is true, consider how your life would take a turn for the worse should any of your answers to #1 be subjected to one of these scenarios: (a) you never had it (e.g., children, relationship, wealth, business success), (b) its existence is threatened, or (c) you had it once but somehow lost it.
- Use the reflection principle. Ask yourself, “What do I have that other people want and would make them gladly step ito my life to have it?” Once you find the answer, ask and answer, “What else”” until there are no more answers.
Be open to your findings. Discoveries might include having a successful business or career, a powerful social network, exemplary kids, freedom of action, a beautiful home, wealth, an amazing lifestyle and more.
Once you’ve identified your real values, acknowledge, appreciate and accept them to reduce your stress and increase your happiness.
The reality is that internalized “should” values co-exist with real values. “Should” values challenge your real values, causing conflict and stress. Since your life reflects your real values, you already are successful beyond your wildest imagination. But don’t take my word for it — discover this secret yourself. It will cause you to stop stressing and be happy!