Yearly Archives: 2012

12 Simple Steps For Living A More Peaceful Life

 Girls at Boarding SchoolI am certain that many of you have been in situations where your life seemed far from peaceful. Sometimes life can become so crazy that attaining peace seems near impossible. Everyone has their own meanings about what peace is, and this article is not meant to give you a strict definition of what peace will mean in your own life. You should search inside yourself to find what peace means to you. Furthermore, you should find specific ways that you can integrate peace into your own life. The following twelve suggestions are meant to help guide you on living a life that is peaceful.

  1. Become more tolerant. Learn to stop being so hung up on the things people choose to do in their own lives. At the end of the day, you live your own life and people can live their lives however they please. I remember a few years ago, I used to be more intolerant of the way people did things. It was annoying to see people doing things that I found to be inefficient, a waste of time or money, and that just seemed wrong. Ultimately, I ended up making myself feel and probably some of the people around me less happy. Learning to be tolerant of the way people live their lives, different beliefs and other perspectives has only helped me to become more open-minded and increased the general positivity in my own life.

  2. Encourage and support others. Live a life that is focused on encouraging others to be happy. Take more time to really give someone a compliment and actually mean it. Learn to look at the people in your life and truly appreciate them for who they are. Instead of spending time pointing out the mistakes someone is making or viewing their actions as stupid or annoying, take time to talk about the great qualities that make them who they are. Learning to see the good in people will help you feel more at peace.

  3. Appreciate the joy and beauty around you. Take time to really stop and smell the roses. Some of the things that really bring peace into my life is just walking around in a park and taking in the scenery. Spend more time noticing the beauty in the world. Instead of paying attention to negativity, learn to seek joy and beauty in the people and environment around you.

  4. Learn to forgive. Peace does not come by taking revenge on others and living a life full of anger and resentment. Currently, I am going through a tough spot where I need to learn to forgive someone for doing something bad to me. This is not easy, but I feel so much better trying to forgive, rather than mulling over what happened and planning revenge tactics. Forgiveness will truly help you to become a more peaceful person. Choosing to not forgive will cause you more pain and feelings of turmoil.

  5. Truly believe that you deserve peace. Some of us cannot attain peace because you hold on to the belief that you do not deserve peace. I remember reading a story about a woman who cheated on her husband. Things ended terribly and as a result, she ended up being physically abused and now has extreme feelings of low self-worth. She truly believed that she deserved to be unhappy because of her mistake to cheat on someone she loved. Although she did a bad thing, it does not mean she deserves to live a life of unhappiness. No matter what you have done, you need to accept that you deserve peace. There is no rule book saying who deserves peace and who does not. Everyone, ultimately, deserves peace.

  6. Find peace within your own life. Try to avoid getting caught up with the things that you don’t have. Always wanting more and more will keep you in a state of always desiring something and never being satisfied with what you currently have. Learn to appreciate what you do have and to count your blessings. Learn to be at peace with yourself. Reflect on the qualities that about yourself that you are happy with, and try to not spend so much time thinking about mistakes or regrets.

  7. Do things that make you happy. Start cultivating peace in your life by continuing to do the things that really add value to your life. Pay attention to the things that you do that bring true joy and love into your life. If writing brings you happiness, then make time to write. If spending time with your friends makes you feel happy, then try to not neglect your friendships. If you used to love playing sports when you were younger, then find ways to be more involved with sports now by possibly coaching a sports team or joining a team in your community.

  8. Avoid things and people that cause extreme amounts of stress in your life. When thinking about how to approach a situation, learn to do it in a manner that will avoid things that stress you out. For instance, if you have a really toxic person in your life, then try to find ways to minimize your interactions with that person. If you dread dealing with traffic everyday then find alternative ways to get to work such as leaving earlier in the day, driving an alternative route, or other options such as public transportation or carpooling.

  9. Practice listening. Some of us get into this habit where we become so consumed with our own lives that we spend more time talking about our own issues or giving advice to others. Although talking about your problems is healthy, and giving advice is a good thing, it is important to take time to listen to others. Listening will allow you to better understand a person, and be able to see things from their point of view.

  10. Be compassionate and kind to others. Learn to show kindness, even to people you may view as your enemy. You will find peace by not reacting with hostility to others. When approaching a tough situation, always try to make kindness your priority. If you find being kind to be difficult, then you may want to avoid the situation or limit your interactions with those people in the meantime.

  11. Be willing to make positive changes in your life. It is very likely that there are things you might be unhappy about right now. Perhaps you need to lose weight. Maybe you need to work on being less stubborn. Maybe you have a problem with lying that you need to work out. Whatever the issue is, try to begin making positive changes in your life and becoming a better person. Being able to make positive changes in your own life will better show how you can make positive changes in the lives of others and in the world.

  12. Share your peaceful knowledge with others. Start to preach what you are practicing. Help your friends try to live peacefully. Be willing to learn more techniques about how to live a peaceful life. As you learn, continue to share and spread this knowledge to others. Being able to share peace with others, will help you feel more at peace with your own life.

Steps for Recovering From Betrayal

 Wolf HowlingEach of our lives is full of different people, and one can never tell who will be a great friend in our lives and who may end up being a negative influence. Betrayal can happen to anyone at any time. It can be something that is unexpected or a situation where we received all the warning signs, but chose to ignore those warning signs. Betrayal can happen in so many situations and in a variety of ways. A close friend can divulge a secret about yourself to others. A colleague or coworker can make promises of acknowledging your work in a project, and then simply not do it. A close family member can suddenly stop speaking to you or even walk out of your life entirely. A spouse can cheat on you and leave you for someone else. You can be lied to by someone you trust and the list can go on and on. There are many ways that someone can betray you, and sadly it’s an experience that many will encounter to some degree.

As a result of betrayal you may end up feeling a wide range of emotions, many of which are hard to process at a given time. You might feel angry one day, depressed the next, have low self-confidence, torture yourself with questions about why this had to happen, feel shocked, disappointed, and dealing with not quite accepting that the betrayal has actually happened.

So now you are faced with the question of what to do? I’ve been dealing with my own situation involving betrayal, so here are my thoughts.

Accept your emotions. Remember that it is completely normal to feel hurt and nobody should ever tell you that your feelings aren’t normal. Take some time to write about how you feel and include all your thoughts. Speak to a trusted friend about what you are going through. Consider seeking professional counseling if you are experiencing very negative emotions about a situation. Professional counseling is pertinent if you are suffering from suicidal thoughts or intense feelings of low self-confidence.

Confront the issue. After you take a couple of days to relax, now is the time to explore what exactly happened. This process must be done respectfully. A part of accepting and moving on from the betrayal, is being able to really understand what happened. Try to think about all the events that led up to the betrayal. It’s important to think about all the events that actually did happen. During this time it can be easy to misinterpret what happened. You may forget that one thing happened, and over-focus on something else that did happen. This can cause you to incorrectly assess the situation and result in you feeling even more confused.

Communicate your feelings to the person who betrayed you. Be honest with that person about how he or she made you feel. Let them know you are upset, hurt or sad. Make it clear to them that you feel betrayed and how you feel unable to trust them anymore. Communicate with that person in whichever method you feel most comfortable. You can arrange to meet with them in person, speak on the phone or exchange a letter or email.

Take it easy on yourself. During this time you may have people telling you to not cry over him or her. You also might start blaming yourself for how things turned out. You must relax and give yourself a break. Cry as much as you need to. Don’t feel bad about turning down invitations from friends if you need some time and space to yourself. Certainly do not consume yourself with thoughts about how this happened because of you or the mistakes that you think you made. You did not choose to be betrayed. That was a choice someone else made and not something you asked for.

Work on your self-confidence. After being betrayed, it’s likely you may experience low self-confidence. It is important for you to take care of yourself and not let this situation change you negatively or make you feel bad about yourself. You are still a wonderful person, and it’s important you try and remember that. To build your self-confidence, work on surrounding yourself with positive friends or continue doing things that you really enjoy and add meaning to your life. Try to continue improving yourself physically and emotionally so you can visibly see the positive changes you are making in your own life.

Control your anger. Whatever happens, try to not respond with insults, unreasonable anger and with hateful words. I realize this can be difficult especially when the betrayal was unexpected or caused much pain. Either way, you do not want to look back at this situation and be ashamed of your actions. Again, it’s okay to be upset and angry but try to not take it out on others. It’s important to talk about the situation but be careful about who you divulge this information to and the method you go about doing it. If a colleague screwed you over, then it might be best to exercise some caution when discussing this with other colleagues or an employer, to avoid saying something you might regret. The same restraint should be shown with the one who betrayed you. The situation is already bad, and you saying unreasonably hurtful things may cause the situation to just get worse. Do not try taking revenge on someone either. You will only make yourself look immature and may possibly regret it later.

Try to foster positive emotions in yourself. Some mistakes people make after being betrayed may include listening to sad music, watching depressing movies, or reading books that may make you feel worse and have more doubts. Avoid all of that stuff. Watch positive shows or movies. Spend more time hanging out with people who are positive in your life. When thinking about how to spend your spare time, try to pick something that will make you feel positive. If possible, avoid doing things that might remind you of the person that betrayed you.

Learn to forgive. This is one of the hardest things for someone to do if they have been betrayed. The only way to really move on and let go of that pain is by learning to forgive. Holding a grudge over what happened will only make you feel worse and you will keep feeling stuck in the past. You will only be causing yourself pain by learning to not forgive.

Avoid being mistrustful of everyone. A common feeling after being betrayed is the fear that someone may cause you this pain again. This emotion can be very strong if you have been betrayed multiple times in your life. Regardless of how often you have been betrayed or the type of betrayal, you have to remember that although there are quite a few people in this world who will betray and hurt you, there are many people who are worthy of your trust. It’s okay to approach future interactions with caution and to take things slow when opening up to someone again, but it is not okay to assume that everyone is not worthy of your trust.

Make a decision about the relationship with the one who betrayed you. You will have to make your own decision about how to approach this relationship. You can get a divorce, continue the friendship, change jobs or cut the family member out of your life entirely. If you do decide to continue the relationship then there are two things that need to happen. You first have to be willing to forgive and trust that person again. Any type of relationship cannot survive when still mulling over past mistakes. I remember a situation where two sisters decided to be close again, and years later they stopped talking because the other person was still angry about an event that had happened years ago. There is absolutely no way to continue an interaction if you cannot forgive and trust the other person. Secondly, the person who betrayed your trust needs to prove that they are trustworthy. This person needs to show you that he or she understands your feelings and is willing to do what is necessary to earn your trust. Furthermore, the person needs to change harmful behaviors. A friend who abandoned you would need to show that they are trustworthy again by demonstrating that that he will always be supportive, there for you, and is reliable. A girlfriend who cheated on you will need to demonstrate that she can change some behaviors that led to her cheating and can be more open and honest with you.

Be positive about the future. Whatever happens, you have to learn to be optimistic about the future. You cannot spend a significant amount of time worrying about what’s happened and being fearful of what is to come. Many of you may have already been through situations that seemed scary and uncertain, but you were able to pull through it. Be excited about what might happen in the future and let yourself not be consumed with thoughts of negativity. You will be surrounded by trustworthy and loving friends. You will meet someone who will not betray nor hurt you. You will be in a situation where you get the respect you deserve.

Focus on building a life that makes you happy. Learn from the betrayal and focus on working to build a happier lifestyle. The future can be unknown when betrayed by someone important to you, but now is the time to start taking risks and doing things that make you happy. Do not attempt to get back into a relationship or friendship that makes you unhappy. Remember, that you can find happiness without that person and now is the time for you to focus on those goals.

Be patient. Betrayal is a terrible thing that many of us would like to never experience. It’s normal to be tired of feeling hurt and to want all the negative emotions to simply go away. The reality is that these feelings take some time to get over. You will need some time to get to a place where you can be completely positive and ready for some changes in your life. This process takes time and it’s extremely important that you continue to be patient about the process and have confidence that things will get better.

Stop Being a Spectator: How Action Changes Your Feelings

 Pandas Taking ActionMany of us can agree that taking action helps us achieve goals and make changes in our lives and relationships, right? However, even with this knowledge, many of us feel this incapability to take action, when action is necessary. I have been in plenty of moments where I felt depressed, sad, lonely or some other negative emotion and kept justifying my inability to take action. I had goals I wanted to achieve and knew what to do but kept trying to convince myself that I needed more time before taking action. There was a period of my life where months went by before I felt it was necessary to take action. I’m not exactly sure why either. Maybe I felt that there would be some sign that would help me take action or perhaps I was wishing for something unlikely to happen, such as things just improving on their own. Regardless the reason, I was not taking action which led me to feeling unhappy and staying at the same place I was at for a really long time.

Ask yourself if you ever felt like you were incapable of trying something new because you don’t feel ready or you feel too nervous? Are you unable to work on things in your relationship because you want to feel happier first? Do you not feel ready to pursue a relationship because you need time to lose more weight and feel better about your physical appearance? Are you in the same job because you need to feel more skilled in your field? If you have asked similar questions to these then it might be worth trying to understand why action creates change.

You feel better when you make changes. Many of us develop this poor belief that you need to feel better to make changes. We are constantly blaming our inactivity on having negative feelings. Fortunately, feeling better usually requires making changes. Imagine you want to lose weight but are feeling unhappy and poorly about your self image. Sitting around and having the same poor dietary habits and lack of exercise will only feed your negative feelings. Once you take action, and start changing your diet and making more efforts to exercise, you will start to feel better and feel more motivated to keep making changes. Or take another scenario where you are unhappy with your job. You constantly think you lack the experience to find another job and that you just need to wait until you feel more skilled to apply elsewhere. Instead what you can do, is start applying for jobs and doing interviews. You might be surprised at the compliments you receive or how people are impressed with the experience you do possess. Taking action does make you feel better, while doing nothing will probably make you feel the same or worse.

Actions are easy to change. Let’s be honest here. When is it ever easy to change your emotions? I have felt plenty sad about some things and wished to not feel sad, and guess what happened? I kept feeling sad! Wanting to not feel sad and trying to make myself feel happy by simply wishing and hoping was not doing anything. Actions, however, are easy to change. The last time I felt really sad, I started out by sitting around and just thinking and being sad. I realized what was happening and decided to take a long walk. Taking the walk helped improve my mood quite a bit. If I had just sat around, feeling upset, then nothing would have changed, but doing something simple like taking a walk, lifted my mood and helped me relax.

Actions help you grow. Everyone has a desire to keep growing and improving. It’s rare to find someone who is completely satisfied with every aspect of their life. Many of us want to continue developing. When you sit around and don’t take action, you are doing the same thing and not developing. No matter how much you think about doing something, until you do it, nothing will change. I had a friend who spent almost 2 years hating his job, resenting the fact that he didn’t finish college, upset that he didn’t have a girlfriend, didn’t have other hobbies to kill his time, and he felt depressed because he was overweight. Throughout those couple of years, he did absolutely nothing. He worked and made a decent salary, but past that, he was not making any changes and seemed to have excuses left and right about how he couldn’t make any of these changes until he felt better. This friend was dead set that one day he just might suddenly feel better, and things would change. One day he just suddenly quit his job and moved in with his brother, who lived about 800 miles away. It was the beginning of a more positive person. He found a better job, lived in a new environment, became closer to his brother, made new friends, and got a new girlfriend. More importantly, he realized that all he had to do to grow, was to take some more actions. After that experience, he was able to make another move, switch jobs and find new friends all on his own. You cannot learn new things until you take action.

Taking action helps avoid excuses and disappointments. Not being proactive in your life, inadvertently creates an environment more prone to excuses. I’m sure many of you have had the following happen. You tell someone close to you that you will do something in a couple weeks. You end up not doing it and using the same exact excuse. A friend of mine delayed learning to drive due to this exact reason. He kept making excuses. He would tell me that he was too scared or nervous to learn how to drive. Every time he had the opportunity to learn, he would use the same exact excuse. This lasted for years. Eventually when one asked him why he hasn’t learned to drive, he just gave a load of excuses. If he had taken action, he may not have used the same excuse so much and probably would have learned to drive.

Taking action helps you control the outcome of your life. When you take action, you are usually striving for an outcome that may or may not happen. If you want to lose weight then taking action with dieting and exercise will most likely help you actually lose weight. If you want to improve your relationship with a loved one then taking action by developing better communication and going to counseling, will most likely help improve your relationship. Taking action gives you the perfect opportunity to better control how you want your life to go. Simply standing by and seeing things unfold will likely lead you to feeling unhappy and you will feel a lack of control over your life. Taking action allows you to realize that much of your life is controlled by you.

Action helps build self confidence. As you perform actions, you are giving yourself challenges and giving yourself the opportunity to be a stronger person. You will feel increasingly proud of yourself for just taking these actions, even if you don’t reach the optimal result. A close friend of mine was finally taking action to resolve an issue he had for many years. Although he did not reach the optimal result, and is still working on these issues, he feels more confident for working on his problems. He has seen some noticeable improvements and feels proud of that. Taking action will build your self confidence and make you more aware of your strength.

Action will help give you a better foundation for coping with your emotions. The more you take action, when you are feeling negatively, the more likely you will develop a healthier pattern for controlling your emotions. Let’s take a situation where your life is relatively unstable and you have a history of feeling depressed or sad often. Taking action whenever you feel negative emotions, will allow you to better cope with these emotions and not be controlled by them. By taking action, you might learn that you need to exercise, write in a journal, go out with friends, or spend time doing your favorite hobby whenever you feel sad. Action allows you to better understand what you can do, to feel better. You start to feel less controlled by your emotions and have an easier time understanding how to cope with the emotions you feel.

Taking action will surprise you. To be surprised you need to be active in your life. You will never know what lies just around the corner, until you take action. Much of the blessings I have are because I decided to take action when times were rough. Ending a really dependent and abusive relationship allowed me to pursue more positive friendships and relationships, allowed me to focus more on my own goals, and helped build my self-confidence. Taking time to eat healthier and focus more on exercise helped me develop a healthy method for staying in shape. Taking appropriate actions to educate myself and polishing up my resume allowed me to apply and obtain better jobs. So many more blessings in my life occurred from me just taking action in my life. The same applies to you. Staying in the same situation and not doing anything will rarely get you anywhere. Take more action in your life, and be surprised at where the action can take you.

Remember, with action there is change. Change cannot happen while you sit around dwelling through thoughts or wondering what things might be like if change happens. With action, you can change things now.

The Downsides to Distrust

Some of us are able to trust people naturally while many of us battle with issues that revolve around being able to trust others. Unfortunately, it’s likely that someone will eventually take advantage of you or compromise your trust. Your trust can be compromised multiple ways. Someone might be by stealing your money either through scams or fraud, or someone might be lying to you, or you might find out that what you are buying is truly not what is being promised to you.

Angry BunnyI will be honest and admit that I am a person that is not very trusting at times. I’m sure my lack of trust has saved me from some scams but it can also hurt my relationships or make me not have as much faith in people. My lack of trust is partially from getting hurt in the past. There were quite a few important people in my life who hurt me in the most awful ways, and mainly because I gave them so much of my trust or placed myself in a position where I could get taken advantage of. It’s been a long battle to have more trust in others and to not be so afraid of getting hurt.

So whatever position you are in, I want to clarify that trusting others is important. It’s okay if you are battling trust issues, but it’s not okay to live a life not trusting others. You will never be able to have strong and meaningful relationships or friendships without learning to trust. You may miss out on wonderful opportunities by not having more faith in things or people. It’s important to let go of the people who are clearly distrustful but just as important to give others a fair chance of having your trust. I doubt anyone wants to live a life full of distrust and suspicion, right?

The following questions will hopefully make you understand the importance of placing trust in another, and why it’s a better choice to not always be overly suspicious of others.

  1. How do you react when others don’t trust you? It doesn’t feel nice to play the part of the person who doesn’t trust easily, but often times we forget how hard it is for another to deal with our distrust. Imagine a loved one didn’t trust you. How would that make you feel? I know that I would feel more insecure about that friendship, might be offended, and be suspicious of the other person. Overall it would have a pretty negative impact on me. Have you considered that your distrust of another might be hurting someone else? You are not the only one impacted by your lack of trust. It may seem alright to distrust someone, but keep in mind that it may hurt another person and could dramatically decrease the quality of that relationship.

  2. How do you react when others trust you? So you meet someone new and see that they trust you. Whenever this happens to me, I have an easier time liking this person and wanting to be close to them. Seeing that they trust me makes me feel good and helps build my confidence that this could be a positive relationship, whether it’s a friendship, romantic interest, or a salesperson. I have higher respect for this person, and it makes it easier for me to be more open with that person. So keep this in mind when dealing with issues of distrust. You are more likable when others get the sense that you trust them. People you care about will genuinely appreciate the amount of trust you place in them.

  3. Is there a correlation between trust and the quality of my relationships? Think about all the people that bring joy into your life. Who are your best friends? Who are the people you think are reliable? Are there any stores or companies that you are loyal to? Do you trust all these people? You tend to have the best relationships with the people you trust. Having trust is necessary for a very positive and meaningful relationship.

  4. Do I give off an attitude of trust? When you first meet someone, how do you usually act? A long time ago, I used to be the type who was very closed. This was due to my lack of trust in other people. I had a tough time opening up to others and I think it was fairly obvious to people I met. As a result, I ended up not making many friends. I realized this and decided to be more open and welcoming to people. This does not mean that I divulged every intimate detail about my life, but I certainly learned to give everyone I met the benefit of the doubt. I divulged some information, and gave that person a chance with my trust.

  5. Do you give a person the chance to be trustworthy? It’s easy to be distrusting when you don’t give someone a chance to earn your trust. Trust involves risk and many times you will be pleasantly surprised when taking that risk. Be honest with yourself about if you are actually giving people a chance. It’s easy to view people and companies as distrustful when you don’t open the door for someone to win your trust. Look at your own actions and try and understand if you approach people automatically assuming that he or she is trying to scam you, take advantage of you, or is someone distrustful. Being aware of the amount of times you show someone distrust, will help you to become more knowledgeable about being more open with others.

  6. Are you actually having a good balance between being overly suspicious and blindly trusting? I want to clarify that this article is not trying to encourage you to not exercise discretion when interacting with others or to simply blindly trust someone. The point of the article is to make you realize that you need a healthy balance. You cannot enter a relationship assuming someone is distrustful and constantly reliving past mistakes or acts of distrust. You cannot be waiting for someone to prove that they are unworthy of trust. When entering some form of a relationship, you have to give people the benefit of the doubt. Don’t assume that they are people who you cannot trust. Definitely use caution when meeting new people, but be optimistic and hope for the best. Striking this balance is integral for being able to trust another in a healthy manner. 

Small Acts of Kindness

Do Not Underestimate the Importance of Small Acts of Loving Service Zechariah 4:10

Personally, I love this bible verse. This verse provides a message that I forget more often than I would like to admit. I’m sure many of you also struggle with this problem as well. You may be feeling that the small acts that you do, are not all that significant.

Sunset in KenyaI mentioned in a prior article, that I would be intertwining my experiences with Kenya and some general words of wisdom over the next few posts. Personally, I find it an excellent way to let others know about my experiences and a great way for me to really analyze my feelings about some aspects of the trip.

While volunteering in Kitengela, I met many volunteers who could only devote a small chunk of their time. There were a few volunteers who were devoting at least 3 months of their time to a project, but most people could only devote about a month or less of their time. Many people had the tough realization that they could only accomplish a small bit during their time. Some of these volunteers felt really upset by the limited amount of time he or she could devote. As a result, this volunteer felt that their time was not significant or that they could not really give much. These thoughts are very far from the truth.

If you ever decide to show kindness in any scenario, you may have these negative feelings. It does not matter if you are volunteering in your community, offering help to a friend or family member, or simply just trying to be a nice to others on a daily basis. Many of you will encounter these negative feelings or thoughts, which can inhibit you from doing something kind for another.

Not finding your actions to be significant can be a real problem and may manifest in various ways. You might believe that your actions are insignificant compared to the works of others. This situation, reminds me of a scenario of a son who wanted to accomplish much in his career. He compared himself to his parents, who did monumental things in their fields. He felt that everything he was doing, was nothing compared to what they did. Another common example is the one where someone feels like their help is not needed or appreciated. Maybe they could only invest a small amount to a cause, or did not have much time to devote. Due to these limitations this person feels like whatever efforts he or she makes is unnecessary and unimportant.

Here are some things to remember to keep you going.

  1. Small things lead to greater things. It’s very rare for a person to just jump into a project and make a large impact. Many people work hard to make a difference. Ask the people you admire about how they made such an impact. Many of them will discuss the many years of patience, disappoints and hard work that was required to reach that point. You might be starting small right now, but with additional time and responsibility, you might be surprised at what you will be capable of doing with time, perseverance and faith.

  2. Small efforts can make a difference in the larger scale. Perhaps you are in the situation where you cannot donate much of your time or money. Your efforts still make a difference. Let’s say you could only donate $10 to help a child get treatment for cancer. Although that may not seem like much, you helped that family get one step closer to giving their child the treatment she deserves. Without the help of you and many others, that child may not have ever received the treatment she needed for getting better.

  3. Remember, that sometimes a small effort can raise a lot of awareness. I was only in Kenya for a few weeks, but many people became aware of what I was doing and some people wanted to help. The increased awareness helped make my small act of kindness, worth it. You can create a big impact by just raising awareness about a problem and describing the small ways that you have helped. Through your experiences, others may want to contribute and make an impact as well.

  4. Your small acts of kindness can give people hope. You have no idea what lives will be touched by seeing you do something kind for others. I’ve personally seen people find faith and hope by seeing the kind actions of others. Your small acts of kindness are inspiring. People will see this kindness and that will provide them with hope and encouragement.

  5. Small acts of kindness can help improve and show off your talents. Many people do not attempt to do kind things for others because they do not have faith in their talents. A loved one of mine has an exceptional talent, but he feels that it’s useless because it mainly involves writing. He did not realize that this skill can help to uplift others and he could share this skill with other people. Try to have faith in your talents. Use what you have to help change the world, and have faith in your abilities. Not only will you have a greater appreciation of your skills, but you will have a broader perspective on how to utilize those skills to help others.

Hopefully you have a more accurate image on how important it is to still be kind, even if those actions seem small. Doing small acts of kindness should be a source of joy, and not something to feel bad about. 

Four Things I learned From Volunteering in Kenya

I apologize for the lengthy delay with writing you back. I have been in Kenya volunteering for the last 3 weeks with Living Positive Mlolongo. A combination of keeping busy and lack of consistent internet access kept me from writing the majority of this month. Anyway, I am happy to be back in the game of writing again!

Tree in Massai MaraI would like to spend the next couple of days discussing my time in Kenya. I had made this decision to volunteer in Kenya spontaneously this past January. It has always been a dream to go to Africa and do some kind of work there. I volunteered through a non-profit organization called International Volunteer Head Quarters (IVHQ). Unfortunately, I could only commit to spending a few weeks there. I am finishing up my Master’s thesis this summer and being gone for a long period of time, is out of the question at the moment. I arrived from the airport in Nairobi at 4am and was immediately taken to a guesthouse. I was exhausted. After spending 2 hours sleeping, a Kenyan woman woke me up at 7am for breakfast. I had no idea what to expect but was happily surprised to see food similar to a mix of a crepe and pancake. The food was delicious and for my first day I just toured a bit of Nairobi. I also had the opportunity to see young people performing plays for the community. The next day I attended the volunteer orientation. The orientation was lengthy and lasted about 8 hours total. I learned at the orientation that IVHQ placed me in a home with a woman called Lucy and 2 other volunteers in a town called Kitengela. I would be working at Living Positive Mlolongo, a center for women who are diagnosed with HIV/AIDs and the children of these women.

Living with Lucy was a great experience. She’s a really cool woman and it helped that she was around my age. She made excellent food and kept her place very clean. Aside from that, she was just such a good friend and a really cool person to hang out with. I couldn’t have asked for a better host! The other volunteers I lived with, were also amazing women. All of us got along really well and spent almost all nights there watching soap operas and just getting to know each other.

So now let’s switch to talking more about my placement. Honestly, the experience has been wonderful, but certainly not easy. Living Positive Mlolongo is located in Mlolongo, which is about a 15 minute bus ride from where I live. From that point, I was required to work in a nearby slum. The slum is about a 45 minute walk one way (1 and a half hours round trip), and requires some trekking through ridiculous amounts of mud. This area is known for getting ridiculous amounts of rain during this time of the year, so it’s known to become quite muddy during this time. Honestly, I doubt I’ve been in mud that was worse than the type of mud in the Kitengela/Mlolongo area. Since I could only commit to 3 weeks, I decided to work on two main projects. The first project was to help create a website for the organization, so that women living in terrible conditions can better advertise the jewelry and dresses that they make. The organization already has a website in place, so my primary duty is to improve the website, set up an e-store and help work on the design of the website. The second duty was to help renovate a daycare, with the assistance of four other spectacular volunteers.

The daycare is quite small. I’ll attach a picture of just one of the classrooms. Daycare Classroom Kenya Each room is expected to fit about 20-30 students. We worked on helping to paint the daycare so that these kids can enjoy learning in a place that looks child-friendly. I would say the most important thing about this experience, is committing to a couple of projects at a time, and sticking with these projects. There is so much to do. I can imagine many fellow volunteers either feeling overwhelmed or lacking direction on what exactly needs to be done. It’s important to find a project you feel passionate about, and to stay committed to the project.

Anyway, after figuring out which projects I want to commit to, the next step was to actually visit the slums. The slums are shocking to say the least. These people live in such filthy conditions, and it’s amazing to see thousands of people living in such a tiny space. The children there are absolutely lovely. Seeing them makes you realize that children don’t take much to be happy. These children live in conditions that I couldn’t even dream of living in and still have room for smiles, laughter and love for others. The adults living in this slum are amazing. They want to see a bright future for their children. The adults are very kind to volunteers and have been willing to help us improve the daycare for them.

So I learned a few great lessons from my initial experiences here. The following lists some of those reasons.

  1. I learned that it’s great traveling to another place and helping to volunteer. Traveling is fun and everybody loves taking a vacation, but volunteering opens up a whole new world of adventure. Volunteering allows you to actually meet locals. You can enrich yourself with the culture and see amazing things that people are doing. You are still able to see the sights and do the fun things you planned, but you take far more from the experience than from being a traveler who quickly passes through. You have the opportunity to make a positive influence for another, create more possibilities of friendships with people from that culture, and place yourself in challenging situations where your help is needed.
  2. I learned the importance of commitment. I’m the type who loves to take on many projects at once. At certain points, it can become challenging to remember what I was even working on. This may seem like an obvious point to some, but I cannot reiterate how important it is to stay committed with your projects. Commitment requires patience. Seeing the end of a project, is the result of staying committed. Remember that projects require time, patience and commitment. Stick to what you say you will do, and you may amaze yourself at the things that you can accomplish.
  3. I realized how love spreads. Showing love, and helping others spreads. The people I met in Kenya have a lot of love and a strong desire to making things better. It was inspiring to see people from different backgrounds come together and show love, and help. The children, adults working in the slums, people working in the organization, volunteers, interns, and so many more were able to help and share love. It’s truly inspiring and makes you realize that there are many amazing people out there who do the best that they can with what they have to improve their community.
  4. When helping others, be prepared to give and receive love. I think there is sometimes this misconception that when giving to others, there is not much you can expect to receive in return, except a nice feeling in your heart. Although nice feelings are great, there is much more to receive. Giving opens up doors for learning something new. If you want to truly volunteer, then you will be in situations that are different and you will perform tasks that you may not be the best at. This gives an excellent opportunity for learning. You gain more friends. Whether you are choosing to volunteer close to home or half way around the world, you will make so many meaningful connections with others. Be prepared to receive lots of love. People actually do care about what you are doing. Whatever you are doing may be a small impact, but it means a great deal to man people. People do care and will show how much they care. Again, be prepared to give, but be prepared to receive from this new experience.

    I’ll definitely write more about these experiences more! Thank you for reading and furthermore, thank you for your patience with additional posts.


    Children in Slum

How Being Right Can Prevent Your Happiness

Fighting CatsYou might be thinking, how can being right possibly deter you from being happy? Let me clarify that it’s great to have an opinion that you feel strongly about. It’s wonderful to share that opinion with others and to be vocal about what you think. The problem is when you want everyone to view you as right. You want to be seen as right by the people you are interacting with.

I had a classmate who was very annoying to be around. The main reason I did not care for his company, was his need to always be right. I remember getting lunch with him and a few other colleagues. During the lunch I said, “I’d love a smoothie right now.” He said, “wow that was random! Why do you want a movie?”. I explained that I had said smoothie. He disagreed with me and said that I had said movie. I explained that he must have misheard me because I had really said smoothie. He attempted to correct me by saying that I had actually said movie. The conversation got annoying quick, and I ended up just changing the subject. I did not want to be around someone who could not even admit that perhaps he was wrong, and I had indeed said smoothie. Yes, I realize this is a silly example but many of us can think of similar examples, that are equally as silly. Imagine the many arguments you might have with your significant other. Whose memory was more correct about a situation? Should you leave 25 minutes or 15 minutes early to catch the next show? Who takes care of the children more?

What about your friends or colleagues? Do you tend to correct your friends constantly or try and convince them that your viewpoint is the correct perspective. Do you get upset when your friends disagree with you or refuse to correct their behavior for you.

This behavior needs to end. You will sever relationships and be less likable, the more you try and be right in a relationship. Furthermore, being right will not make you happy. At the end of the day, you just seem controlling, not open-minded, and will push people away from wanting to talk to you about their feelings.

This article lists some questions that you can ask regarding your happiness and being right. These are questions meant to guide you to making better decisions when stuck in a situation where you feel hard-pressed to be right.

Do I feel happy when I am right? Be completely honest with yourself. How do you feel when you are the one who is right. Think about issues that come up in your personal or professional relationships? Think about circumstances where you just had to be seen as right by the person you were interacting with. Do you tend to feel more stressed out than happy? Do you have negative feelings about the encounter and that person? Do you feel comfortable even thinking about the situation? Are you sometimes left feeling confused and not sure about where the whole interaction began and ended?

What do I really want out of this situation? I had arguments with my boyfriend where I thought what I wanted was to be right. After some contemplation, I realize that I really wanted something else. Often, I realized that I wanted him to just listen and acknowledge my feelings on a matter. It didn’t matter if he completely agreed with me or changed his behavior entirely, but ultimately I wanted him to just listen and acknowledge what I was saying. Find out what is really going on. You will quickly learn that many times you do not need to be right. Instead, you need to just focus on what you genuinely want out of a situation.

Am I focusing on what I don’t want too much? Being right sometimes results from over focusing on the possible negative consequences. I don’t want people to think I’m stupid! I don’t want people to not appreciate my efforts! I’m tired of feeling like people just don’t understand me. When you focus your energies on what you don’t wait, you end up forgetting what you do want. When voicing your opinion to your daughter, who respectfully disagrees with you, you may end up feeling very irritated with her and become unnecessarily upset. You are focusing on how you don’t want her to view you as uneducated and uninformed about topics. As a result, you may miss that she is listening to your perspective and is viewing your opinion highly. Your daughter just does not share the same view as you. In the end, you want her to see you as an informed resource, but you are too busy focusing on what you don’t want her to see you as that you miss some obvious cues that show otherwise.

Am I creating an environment where I can achieve what I want? Now that you know what you want, you can start on working on creating interactions that give you what you want. You can stop focusing on being right to achieve that. For instance, maybe you want people to understand your viewpoint on politics and take it seriously. Hopefully you realize that trying to always be right makes you look close-minded and will make people less likely to take you seriously. A better way of making others understand is to be opinionated about your viewpoint, but listen and share your viewpoints with others. Continue to enrich your knowledge and share that knowledge in healthy ways such as teaching a class, starting a blog, and being more active in the political community. You will realize that there are better ways of making people take your opinion seriously without having to have lengthy debates with others just to prove that you are right and they are wrong. Perhaps you want a trusting environment with your loved one. Being right does not create that environment and can actually fuel distrust in your relationship. Look for ways that build a strong foundation for trust that do not involve always being the one who is right.

Is being right more important than this relationship? Trying to be right all the time hurts your relationships with others. Is trying to be right worth losing your friend? Does being right all the time help or hurt your marriage? Try and understand the impact of trying to be right all the time on meaningful relationships. It’s important to let things go when trying to have a positive relationship with another, even when you know you are right. Try it sometime. Start with something small if you must. Tell the person you are wrong or tell them that you agree and leave it alone. You will realize that your relationships will improve and you will feel much better not dealing with unnecessary stress.

Hopefully asking yourself these questions has helped you realize that trying to be right all the time can deter your happiness. Furthermore, you may be hurting important relationships because of the need to constantly be right. Instead, focus on identifying what you truly want and how to achieve that without trying to forcibly convince others of your way.

If you have any tips for how to let go of always being right all the time then please share.

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Steps to Becoming a Successful Risk-Taker

paraglidingYou have probably heard someone tell you that it’s important to be risky. Risk is an important element in life. You will have to take risks when making decisions about your career, relationships, education or with other activities in your daily life. Unfortunately, risk tends to have two sides: the destructive and constructive. Destructive risk-taking can result in damaging your health, relationships, self-worth, or even sending you to prison. Examples of destructive risk-taking involve making bad financial decisions, taking drugs, becoming violent, being promiscuous, or driving dangerously. Constructive risk-taking, however, is very beneficial to you and can help open new and exciting doors for opportunities, become motivated, and help you develop as a person.

Not pursuing a risky decision may cost you in many ways. You might end up having more lost opportunities than you like and wonder why you didn’t pursue a relationship with someone, why you didn’t take the new business opportunity or why you didn’t try doing something you are really passionate about. It’s important to take risks, and even more important to be successful at handling risks.

This article will focus on helping you take better risks and to have a better understanding of how to be a successful risk-taker.

Calculate the risks. When approaching a new situation, try and think about what the potential risks might be. Doing things without actually thinking about the consequences can lead you to make some really dangerous decisions. Again, calculate the risks. If you are thinking about taking a new job that’s halfway across the country, what are the risks? Hard to stay in contact with friends? Too expensive to relocate? Long distance relationship with your significant other? Change of climate?

Minimize the risks whenever possible. Whenever you have the opportunity, minimize your risk. If you are planning to do a solo trip to another country, gather some more information to minimize the risk of being placed in a dangerous situation or being unprepared for unexpected financial costs. If you are planning to buy a house, then consider saving up some income to minimize the risk of being placed in a situation where you cannot make payments in time.

Do not risk everything all at once. Learn to risk only a small amount at a time. If you are starting a new business then it may be unwise to quit your job entirely, and to not invest all your money into this new venture. You may consider finding a part-time job or looking for ways to minimize your costs and save some of your money.

Analyze the costs of NOT taking this risk. Many of us get hung up on the possible negative consequences of taking a risk, that we forget that not taking this risk also has consequences. A friend of mine was unable to take the risk of becoming emotionally close to a romantic partner. As a result, he was unhappy and constantly craving intimacy and love with another. After some time he realized what it was costing him to not take this risk. It was only until he took the risk of being close and possibly getting his heart broken, that he found love.

Learn from others who have taken this risk. Never take a risk blindly. Do your research. Ask others for advice. It’s tough to know the difference between a good and bad risk, but talking to others can help give you guidance. Before embarking on a trip abroad, alone, I asked for advice from another female who had experience traveling alone. Her feedback was momentous in helping me minimize risks and feel more confident about my decision.

Evaluate the worth of taking this risk. If this risk is your dream, then it may be worth going ahead and taking the risk. Some of us are in situations where we need to take a risk. You may have a vision, dream, or a part of you that needs to be explored, and it may be worthwhile for you to take that risk than not going after it.

Have standards regarding the risks you want to take. Whenever you decide to take a risk, be sure to know what is enough to convince you to stop. Risk-taking becomes dangerous when you are unable to know when to stop. Have standards that you are willing to stick with. This will help you make wiser decisions about when to stop taking a risk. If you are in a situation where you have spent too much money on a business decision, then you may want to stop. If you find yourself being disrespected by the people you moved in with, then you may want to consider moving elsewhere. Having standards for what you can deal with, and what is too much will help you know when you need to stop taking a risk and prevent destructive risk-taking.

Focus on the good parts of the risk. Even when taking a risk is good for you, sometimes the process can be challenging. Relocating to a different area is tough for most people. Many people who relocate deal with episodes of loneliness, challenges with adjusting to a different lifestyle, or other factors outside of one’s control such as different weather patterns or traffic. It’s tough but often the experience of relocating reaps many benefits. Focus on the good aspects of a risk and try and remember those during tough times.

Ensure the risk aligns with your values and priorities. Judging whether our risk-taking is constructive or destructive may depend on your own value system and personal priorities. Quitting your job while already struggling financially may not be a good idea if you have children to support. Participating in an activity that goes against your morals may result in lowered self-worth and may be something you end up regretting in the near future. Avoid destructive risk-taking by ensuring the risk is in alignment with your values and priorities.

Analyze alternative ways to pursue a risk. After going through this list you may still be at a loss on whether to pursue a risk or not. Sometimes now is not the best time. I know someone who is currently attempting to relocate for a job that may be detrimental to her financially. Her main reasons for relocation are to be closer to friends. A better idea might be for her to wait a year until she can better afford the move and have additional experience for more worthwhile job positions in that area. Perhaps now is a good time, but you don’t have to do things immediately. Maybe you want to become a writer but do not know if you are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to be successful now. You can still take appropriate steps. You can begin writing via a blog, taking writing courses to help hone your skills, network with other talented writers and so on. Find alternative ways to pursue a risk and consider the timing of making that risk.

Find supporters. Taking risks is challenging and nobody expects you to go at it alone. Find a good support network for help. Find a friend to go on your journey with. Get supporters through social media to support your writing or new business venture. Ask for help! If you are making a lifestyle change then ask a trusted friend for help through this journey. 



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10 Steps on How To Be Aware of How Your Actions Impact Others

An often overlooked component of creating a happy lifestyle, is the importance of awareness. Many of us do or say things without being completely aware of how that impacts another. We navigate through the world not realizing that our decisions and actions have consequences, both positive and good.

Park in SeattleJust this past weekend I was meeting an old friend and he told me a story about how he had purchased some items at a store and received an extra $40 back in change. He was tempted to keep the change but realized that the woman might be fired as a result of that decision and decided to hand the change back.

I also remember an instance where a woman was being very opinionated about her negativity towards religion. She had said extremely negative things about religion to a mixed crowd of friends, some who were in agreement with her and others who were not. As a result, some people viewed her negatively, and she did not realize that her decision to make a bold statement without being respectful could potentially cause her to be viewed in a more negative light, even by people who were her friends.

My last example is of a father who had realized that the lack of time and attention he had given his son over the past 5 years had resulted in a distant relationship between them that was devoid of respect and closeness.

The actions you make now are even influential after you die. Attend a funeral and you will see how many attendees will discuss the actions that the deceased made during his or her lifetime. Due to the actions of the deceased, many people’s lives are forever changed.

Being aware of how your actions impact others will help you make wiser decisions, become more likable to others, increase the positivity in your relationships and will boost your own self-confidence. The awareness of how your actions impact others will create a climate of happiness and guide you to living a more satisfying lifestyle.

Here are 10 questions you need to ask for understanding how to become more aware of how your actions impact the world around you.

  1. How do you see your actions? Before thinking about how your actions impact another, consider how you view the actions you make. What are your true intentions when doing something? Why did you choose to make this decision and are you happy about it?
  2. How do your actions influence others? Think about the people in your life and the relationships that you have. You might be able to see a pattern between the way you choose to treat others, and the relationships that you have. Do you struggle with having a positive relationship with your family? Is it because of negative actions they have made towards you or have you made some poor decisions when interacting with your family?
  3. Do you realize the power of your actions? You may be in a position where you are underestimating the power of the choices you make. I remember interacting with a friend who had said some insulting things to me. His response to me had really hurt my feelings and made me uncomfortable about being his friend. After speaking with him, I realized that he did not even consider that his actions would have that strong of an influence on me. I later found out that he had done similar things with other people, that resulted in other people feeling hurt and reconsidering their friendship with him. You have the power to make someone happy, sad, inspired, or depressed. Realize the true power of your actions and the extent that you can hurt or help another.
  4. What are the alternative actions you can make? It’s easy for us to make a decision and feel it’s the right thing to do, without considering the other options. What first comes to mind often seems like the right action to take, even though it’s often not. I went hiking with a friend who had brought along some water bottles. When he had drank through a few water bottles, his idea was to hide them behind a bush and to keep going. I did not want him to do something that could potentially harm the wildlife and that would contribute to destroying the environment, so I told him to keep holding the bottles until we arrived at the nearest campsite which would have trash cans.
  5. What are the needs of others around me? Understanding what someone’s needs are will guide you to make more appropriate decisions. It’s easy to do or say something and not realize that what you are doing is either not addressing the need of another or potentially creating a future problem. You serve as an example to your child. Your child needs you to be involved in his or her life, and making the choice to not meet those needs will likely create permanent boundaries between you and your child. Furthermore, your actions may have negative results on the way your child handles social interactions in the future.
  6. How can I adjust to the needs of another? Okay so now you can identify the needs of a few loved ones in your life. What can you do now to adjust to those needs? Perhaps you realize that your wife needs to spend more quality time with you during the week. Now you can arrange to make additional time by having a couple more date nights during the week. Perhaps you realize that your child needs you to be supportive of his new career change. You can now work on showing him that you are supportive and can be used as a positive resource.
  7. Do I know, how much the actions I make in the present, matter? Find awareness by realizing that your actions, right now, matter. It’s easy to say that this action may not make much of a difference now, and not realize the larger impact that action has. Not taking action to promote a cleaner environment now, will contribute to problems in the future. Not making an effort to work on the relationship now, may result in you losing the person you love. Now is the time for action and it’s important to be aware that the actions you make now are worth your awareness.
  8. How can I be a better observer? Understanding how your actions influence the world around you involves you developing your skills as an observer. You have to learn how to listen and to see things from a different perspective. It’s very important to pay attention to the way people respond to things you say or do.
  9. How can I be more open-minded? Awareness requires open-mindedness. You will need to learn to not judge every situation based on your own behaviors, attitudes and beliefs. Whenever I visit a different country, I have to be more aware of the actions I am making and how that might influence others. Being opinionated about a different culture’s customs could easily offend someone else and place me in potentially dangerous situations. Making a clear attempt to speak the language earned far more respect in Thailand, than trying to force someone else to understand my English. Being more open-minded will help you expand your breadth of knowledge, allow you to explore alternative decisions outside your comfort zone, will make you aware of different perspectives, and will help you withhold unnecessary judgment against another.
  10. Do I realize that awareness is a process? Becoming more aware of how your actions influence others is a process that takes time and patience. Much of this process also requires steps of maturity. Many of us can remember moments as teenagers where understanding the extent of our actions was challenging. As we have matured, this process has become gradually easier. Remember awareness takes time, patience, and development.

Importance of Personal Values

Personal values play an important role in achieving happiness. Unfortunately, many of us may not ever analyze what our values are. You may have some idea of what your values are and maybe you judge your values based on what feels right or wrong at the time, but this alone does not mean that you actually know what your values are.

First, let’s define what personal values are. Personal values are a set of beliefs or ethical guidelines that you use to manage your behaviors and solve problems. We use values to measure right and wrong, to control what we choose to do and to prioritize things that are important to us. These values typically arise from our family values, religious or spiritual beliefs, education and even the media.National Museum in Phnom Penh Cambodia

To achieve happiness, you have to have a good understanding of what your values are. The remainder of this article clarifies the importance of knowing your values and will hopefully help you realize the full importance of your personal values.

Values are necessary for satisfying your own needs. Everyone has needs that range from preventing hunger to personal development. Fortunately, everyone has a variety of ways that those needs can be satisfied. Our values help guide us to satisfy those needs. For instance, your personal values may guide you to believe that you can find food by stealing. As a result, you steal or cheat to obtain money to buy food. Instead, you might believe that stealing is wrong, and that food should be bought from money you earn. Different personal values is one of the reasons viewing shows or movies where a group of people have to survive in the wilderness or in a post-apocalyptic world is so interesting. You find people with diverse values attempting to perform a basic task (finding safe shelter or food), and often times people come into conflict due to their own differing personal values.

Values help you establish what is important in your life. Without understanding what your values are, you will have a difficult time understanding what is important to you. You may often overlook aspects that are really important to you because you are unaware of these values. Understanding that you value creativity and passion, may help you realize you would be happier doing a job that allowed you to be innovative and nourished your passion. Realizing that you value integrity may help you realize that you and your current partner may not be the best fit due to an unhealthy acceptance of dishonesty and failure to show many acts of honesty in the relationship. If you truly value being physically fit, then that could explain why you feel suddenly unhappy with your busy routine that involves tons of work but less exercise and healthy meals.

Understanding your values prevents you from justifications that lead to unhappiness. Almost all of us have had the experience where we did something against our values. The action felt wrong, maybe resulted in you feeling a bit guilty, and was clearly against your personal value system. For instance, maybe you cheated on an exam thinking that it’s okay because you studied really hard and it’s a tough subject for you. Or perhaps you inaccurately represented yourself during an interview because you are desperate for a position. Maybe you lied about facts in your life to seem more appealing to someone you have fallen in love with. These are all actions that may go against your personal values, but you use justifications and excuses to make going against your values okay. Sadly, these justifications end up bringing unhappiness rather than joy into your life. Passing a class by cheating will only make things more difficult for you when you need the skills obtained from that class. Inaccurately representing yourself wastes the time of the employer and may cause you to work at a job where you feel extremely stressed and your performance is low. When the person you love finds out about all the lies, then your relationship can be jeopardized and distrust will occur. Prevent the excuses and justifications by allowing yourself to understand what your values are. Being fully aware of your values may prevent you from making an error by doing something that goes against what you value. In the long run, you will achieve happiness by throwing out the excuses and justifications that go against your personal value system.

Values help shape your behavior. Almost all of the actions we take are controlled to some degree by our values. Whenever we do something that goes against our values, most of us tend to feel uncomfortable or guilty. Being unaware of your values may result in you making poor decisions or having many regrets. Alternatively, values also help show us what our good behaviors are and help us define success. When you stick to your values, you are viewing your actions as the right thing to do, and you are paving the way to your own personal success.

Values help guide us, even when rules are absent. I must clarify at this point that values are not rules that we live our lives by. Placing a rule on yourself that you cannot drink soda more than once a month is not a value. That is a rule that is guided by your values. You value being healthy and you create rules for yourself that are consistent with those values. There are many situations that you will encounter over a lifetime that have no rules. You have freedom over how you choose to react to certain situations. Do I help pay off my girlfriend’s mortgage, even if we have been together for just 6 months? Should I help clean up the environment by recycling and using less energy? Should I lie to my best friend about having a relationship with her ex-boyfriend? How do I make more money when I have been unemployed for 5 months? These are situations where predefined rules are largely absent. Our values help guide us to handle challenging situations. Without being aware of your values, you may make poor decisions and be completely at a loss at handling difficult situations.

Hopefully this article helped you realize the importance of identifying your personal values. Take some time to identify what your values are specifically. Remember that these values are not rules. A value is a set of principles that can guide your behavior. Values will help you to live a happier and more satisfied lifestyle.