Recently, Brian and I facilitated a 3-hour Achievement Workshop for a group of UBC Sauder School of Business students. In the first part of our program, we shared some of the key 'wants' of the audience. We heard the typical answers: a good job, good income, good habits, etc. One of the students was running through his list of wants and eventually summed them up with the statement, “I want to be happy.” Sounds simple enough, right? The room erupted into laughter … “isn’t that what everyone wants?!!”

So why is it so hard to find people who are genuinely happy? Why is true happiness and fulfillment so elusive? With so many resources and choices available to us, you’d think that happiness would come more easily and naturally. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Simply put, you need to be living with Integrity to be happy … and that’s easier said than done.

Integrity

To get clear on what I mean, let’s look at the definition of Integrity, as written in the Gage Canadian Dictionary:

  1. Firm attachment to moral or artistic principle; honesty and sincerity; uprightness.
  2. Wholeness, completeness.
  3. The condition of being unmarred or uncorrupted; the original, perfect condition. 

Consider what it really means to be living in full integrity: the condition of being unmarred or uncorrupted; the original, perfect condition. When you are living the fullest meaning of integrity, you are uncompromising in all that you say and do. You know that you have made the right choices and you feel confident in them. This is where it really gets interesting, because there are all kinds of conflicting influences out there that could cause you to sacrifice and compromise what’s important to you.

Values

This is where your values come into play. To start with, the concept of 'values' is overstated, overused, and somewhat cliché. It is also misunderstood and deeply undervalued. Defined by the Gage Dictionary, values are the 'established ideals of life.' They are articulated as single words, such as: Honesty, Justice, Peace, Love, Compassion, Family, etc.  Having values isn’t about being a 'goody two shoes' … everyone has values, whether you’re aware of them or not. The challenge is that most people are not honouring them consistently, and so they aren’t 'living with integrity.' The end result? They aren’t happy.

Everyone prioritizes values differently. That’s what makes them uniquely yours and ultimately makes you and your contributions unique. When you are aware of your values, should you choose to accept the challenge, they will serve as your compass in all aspects of your life. Values frame your decisions for you, they empower you to stand for your beliefs and they serve as your touchstone.

Value-Guided Decisions

When faced with a decision, reflect on your values and ask yourself, “Given that these are my values, what decision must follow?”  It will invariably be obvious what action to take and you will be living with integrity when you do so.  Now, the trick is to actually take the action that is dictated by your values. That discipline is called CHARACTER, but that's a topic for another time.

Like our student audience last week, spend some time identifying and clarifying your values. Once you know what they are, use your values to guide you to live your life with integrity. Your happiness is dependent on it.

By the way, this is not only the secret to happiness, but also the secret to success … and that’s also a topic for another time.

Live your dream,

-Michèle

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