The great inventor Thomas Edison was known to be a workaholic who regarded social gatherings such as formal dinners and parties as a waste of time. On one such occasion, feeling bored in the company of dull people, he resolved to escape to his laboratory at the first opportunity. Just as he was about to walk through the door, the host of the dinner appeared. “It certainly is a delight to see you, Mr Edison. What are you working on now?” asked the oblivious man. “My exit,” replied Edison.
Edison clearly knew his priorities and abided in them. To him, his work made him happy. In fact he once said, “I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun.” Not surprisingly, he spent a significant amount of his time working, accumulating in his lifetime more than 2000 patents for his inventions. But most people are not so sure about their priorities. They have been conditioned to embrace social ideals, which they often accept and embrace as their own values. Then, when happiness eludes them, they wonder why. The answer is simple—they are not living authentic lives.
An authentic life is one in which you are guided by an inner conviction. Your thoughts and actions are aligned to your natural inclinations. Such a life is characterised by lasting joy, a feeling of freedom, extraordinary vitality and, most of all, a sense of effortlessness. “Is such a life possible?” you ask. Absolutely, and best-selling author and human behaviour specialist Dr John Demartini tells you how in the lead story this month.
The key to living your best life lies in determining your highest values and letting them steer your decisions and actions. True values are like fingerprints—each individual has a unique set of them. “They are a kind of internal compass, pointing you toward the activities, people, and places that most fulfil you, and away from the situations and people that are likely to feel unfulfilling,” says John adding, “Just as no one else can choose your fingerprints or alter the pattern of your retina, no outside authority—no parent, teacher, political leader, or religious figure—can define your values. Only you can look into your own mind, heart, and soul and discover what is truly most important to you.”
Once you understand how alignment to your values determines the quality of your life, you must identify your highest values. John has created a six-step process to help you discover your personal values, which is presented after his article. I urge you to spare some time and complete this very meaningful exercise, at the end of which you will know which of your beliefs have been blocking your rightful happiness from you.
No matter what your values, once you know what they are, you will never again waste your time living by other people’s standards. Like Edison, you will simply exit any situation that doesn’t line up with your values.