Friday, October 28, 2011

My Take On "Happiness" written by Dr Vin Tran Springfield Australia

I took my 2 kids to the local library the other day and while they were choosing which dinosaur books to borrow out, I came across this book called Delivering Happiness written by Tony Hsieh CEO of   He talks about the importance of core values in work and life, and its impact on happiness and performance. It was a very interesting read and had inspired me to post this article on "My take on Happiness".  So here it is.......

Ultimately, everyone's goal is to be happy and I agreed with Tony on what he had to say in his book on this issue.  So how can one achieve this?

To put it simply, people are happy or at least, "content" with their lives when their so called "reality" is in line with their "core values" and just as importantly, the various "layers" of their "core values" are in line with each other.

So in essence, in order to be happy, you have two options.
  1. To create a reality to fit in with your core values or...
  2. To change your core values to fit in with your reality
So as you can see, for you to be happy, you need to know your core values. It is simple algebra.

So what are core values?

We all have "layers" of values just like the layers in an onion.  Some layers are deep and are very hard to change, and we refer to this as  "core values".  Some layers are more superficial and easier to change, and I like to refer to this as "surface values".  Sometimes, these values are in conflict and hence, can lead to a lot of "internal conflict" and stress.  For example, if you have a core value, "Life should be fun" and also, "My family life is very important to me and I need to be responsible", then you can see that at times, this will create some internal conflict particularly when you want to go out and have fun with your friends.  By knowing what your core values are and what is in conflict with what, it will give you a chance to either change it, prioritize it or accept your core values as they are and accept the consequences.  Often, we cannot have our cake and eat it too.

So, where do our Core Values come from?

Core values generally come from your genetic makeup, temperament, what has happened to you in the past, how you have been raised, your friends, your role models, your past "traumas", your past successes and last but not least, media and Hollywood.

I often say to my patients that self understanding can often be the key to happiness, so take some time to know your Core Values. 

Ask yourself these questions?
  1. What are my core values on relationships with my partner, wife, husbands, friends and families?
  2. What are my core values about work?
  3. What are my core values on issues other than myself eg society and community?
  4. What are my core values on spiritual growth?
  5. What are the "layers" of my core values and do I know their levels of priority so when one core value is in conflict with another, do I know which one will override the other in order to avoid internal conflict?
  6. What part of my core values are not being fulfilled?
  7. Are my core values realistic and achievable and if not, will I change it or just "accept" it.
The answers to these questions will help and guide you to live a life with meaning, purpose and congruency.

As core values are often "subconscious", it is sometimes surprisingly difficult to work them out.  I will talk about ways in my next post on "How to work out your core values".  One of these strategies is a process we call in psychology, "digging deeper" by asking "why", which Tony Hsieh talks about in his book Delivering Happiness.

So until next time......

Dr Vin Tran
Family Doctor
MBBS FRACGP University of Qld