A Pathway to Happiness and a Pocket Full of Sunshine

Let me begin by making a rather honest admission, I belong to no political parties, no civil rights groups, I have no affiliations with any religious societies, no brotherhood, cult nor secret society. I hardly ever attend my village meetings and I avoid being drafted to any particular social group whatsoever.

Of course, I do not claim my world-view as being the right one for everyone in the world to adopt. Neither will I ever accept it as being wrong nor selfish. The reason behind my “strange” behaviour is simply as a result of my personal values.

So what are values? Values are the driving forces behind all of our actions and they provide the “why” (intent) to our behaviour. Every action, habit or behavioural pattern began with a value – a reason why to do it and a positive intent.

As different as our faces and fingerprints are, so are our values arranged. Values have a hierarchy in our lives, and hence determines the differences in our choices and behaviours.

Here are top 10 examples of common values:
1. Freedom
2. Money
3. Success
4. Happiness
5. Love
6. Acknowledgment
7. Loyalty
8. Power
9. Health
10. Security
11. Intelligence

So I gave 11 instead of 10 (I like my freedom and break my own rules) of course there are several other values, but now you get the drift. So if two very good friends, Ade and Emeka, who both work in the same national bank are granted a job promotion. Of course this is all very exciting for anyone working in a bank, however the new job position is in a strange new city in the Northern part of the country, the decision for one to move and the other to remain will be dependent on the heirachy of their individual values.

If Emeka’s values are arranged in this order of importance:

1. Money
2. Success
3. Acknowledgment

And Ade’s topmost values are arranged in this order:

1. Love
2. Happiness
3. Security

Who do you think will accept the offer to move to a new city? It will most likely be Mr. Emeka. He would say a big “Yes” even before considering whether or not he can speak the language, worship freely or what his fiancĂ© would think about such a move! It won’t be because he is an Igbo man, it would be as a result of the heirachy of his values and what he holds dear to his heart.

Our values direct our beliefs and it determines what we choose to focus on at any particular time. The human brain can only consciously focus on 5-7 things at the same time, our values and belief system therefore chooses what information to focus our limited attention on, and what to eliminate, generalize, delete or distort. Emeka’s logical brain would therefore delete all the news he’s heard about the unrest in the Northern parts of Nigeria, or the fact that he doesn’t speak Hausa fluently.

Mr. Ade of course would politely decline the promotion after due consideration as although he desires the bigger job role, fatter paycheck and an opportunity to get ahead in the rat-race, it just goes against his topmost values. People will insinuate that his girlfriend has “jazzed” him or that he his ambitious enough, but they simply won’t understand.

So understanding and communicating effectively with others must begin with eliciting what their topmost values are. My need for Freedom, Happiness and Success makes me choose differently from my darling wife, Jane, whose topmost values are Love, Happiness and Loyalty. I understand this, so I don’t judge her harshly when she does the things she does and makes certain personal choices, because now I am aware of her driving forces. This also explains why I refuse to join any particular group that might infringe upon my need for freedom.

We all subconsciously make our choices based upon our hierarchy of values. Of course, most people don’t understand this, and so it causes unnecessary heartaches and misunderstanding amongst couples, team members and friends.

But now you do! So go find out what your friends topmost values are and then you can best figure out how to influence them or shape your requests so it appeals to their highest values. Happiness comes when we know we are living life fulfilling what our highest values are and when we are in the business of doing this, we have a skip in our steps and waltz around like we have pockets full of sunshine to dole around. We’re happy for no particular reason others can figure out:)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic.

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