We face various challenges that test the limits of our ability and awareness throughout our lives. And even though we overcome most of these roadblocks daily, there are always days where we feel overwhelmed and constrained by a lack of motivation and drive.
Why is it that on some days we bulldoze through these obstinate challenges, and on some days, we feel inundated by their presence?
Various research suggests that the difference can be less about the types of challenges we face and more about our internal states. Our state of mind influences the way we operate, affecting the outcomes we achieve. It is the main factor in enabling a ‘peak state’.
When we achieve a peak state, there’s a positive energy behind our actions that helps us overcome obstacles, achieve targets and reshape daily experiences. That energy is driven in part by our values, which shape everything from how we spend our time to how well we sleep.
When we do not live in tune with our values, we feel disengaged and indulge in activities and behaviour that result in a poor state of mind. On the other hand, when we go through life while being focused on our core values, we influence a superior state of mind. Therefore, attaining a peak state depends on whether we live in alignment with our values.
It all comes down to the decisions we make.
Before making any decision, we encounter a choice point—a moment in time where we have a chance to choose between value-consistent and value-inconsistent behaviour. Our decisions either help us stay true to our values and live happy lives, or we stray from our values and feel a sense of despondency.
As adults, we are better equipped to make these decisions, yet sometimes we falter. Imagine how tough it must be for our children to make the right decisions without a proper understanding of their values.
A simple trick I use when making decisions is asking myself, “Will this contribute to my peak state?”
If I am to get through the day and do all the things I plan to do—to meet my vision and mission—I need to be in a peak state, and I know that maintaining good health is essential for me to attain that state. I need to sleep well, meditate, eat nourishing food, avoid the news, and work out. So, when faced with a choice or decision, I make choices that contribute positively to my well-being and avoid situations that will come in the way of me achieving my peak state.
However, these requisites are specific to me. So, in the same way, your values and requisites should be specific to you. This applies to our children as well. Defining and describing our values can help us and our children make better decisions and attain peak states.
When we or our children engage in negative behaviours like over-eating, over-drinking, constant gaming or mindlessly watching television, using them as distractions from feeling a lack of fulfilment, they become habits that are detrimental to our mental state.
We need to coach our children into coming to their own conclusions of what is important in their lives. We need to ask them what do they want to do, where do they want to reach and who do they have to be in order get there, and then ask them to consciously choose values that will support the goals they want to achieve.
Whatever values we choose, we need to describe what they mean specifically to us. We can define values in tangible ways and intangible ways so that it helps us live in alignment with them. Our values set the precedence for our thoughts, decisions and actions.
Let me give you an example: Once a CEO mentioned in passing that he had a way to save tax. I, unfortunately, said yes without understanding that while what he was suggesting was legally correct—it was morally wrong. My team acted on his suggestion. However, when I came to know what it was, I immediately insisted on reversing the transaction at not only the loss of the tax-saving but also with an additional loss that was considerable. My team was advising me to let it pass this one time and not incur the loss. It made me feel confused and conflicted. However, all I had to do was to go to my values list, see integrity listed there and the decision became clear. I took the loss and upheld my value. Years later, when I sold the company, I was told that it was the cleanest company the Private Equity firm had bought. The inner stillness, joy and calm—the steadfastness and grounding that comes from living in alignment with your values is priceless. It was worth whatever financial loss I had to make.
The question that ultimately remains is how would I have felt if I had chosen to save that money at the cost of my values? Would I be able to feel proud of myself? Would the guilt affect my state of mind and thereby prevent me from achieving a peak state?
Our children will experience the similar issues in life. However, by helping them consciously choose their values, we will equip them to achieve better outcomes. They will find a better state of mind and the strength to overcome tough challenges.
Values help us in times of conflict and confusion, providing us with the inspiration and motivation to move forward. The crucial element, however, is that once we define our values, we need to be steadfast in living by them. The only way for us to have long-term happiness is to consistently act as per our values. When we do, we live with a sense of certainty and inner peace and a total congruence of mind, body and soul.
Moving forward in alignment with our values is what will help us find a superior state of mind and create the energy that drives our peak states.
Originally published on Medium