Live Your Best Life
To live your best life. What does this really mean?
In today’s hectic world, it’s easy to go through life feeling like something’s missing. Sometimes we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of it all and start to feel like our life is lacking fulfilment and we aren’t living our best life. This can hit us in our work lives, in our social lives and even after returning home from a holiday. Many of us suffer from the “holiday blues”, but perhaps its more than just travelling home. What if the “holiday blues” were due to a feeling of “so what?” A feeling like the holiday lacked long term value and was just a short term distraction.
Elements of Value
Some clever people at the Harvard Business Review have identified 30 “elements of value” – fundamental attributes addressing different needs. These elements trace their roots back to a “heirarchy of needs” created by psychologist Abraham Maslow in 1942. The elements of value fall into four categories:
Functional – at the base of the pyramid are requirements necessary for any positive experience. These are simple things such as quality, variety, sensory appeal and effort reduction.
Emotional – this level of the pyramid represents the standards most of us would use to determine if an experience is a positive one. These include measures like fun, anxiety reduction, the generation of nostalgia and therapeutic value.
Life changing – Is this too much to ask? If you look at the elements that form this level, the answer becomes an easy no:
Provides hope – When you’re filled with a sense of optimism.
Motivation – Spurring people to achieve their goals.
Affiliation and belonging – Being invited into a group or team.
Heirloom – An experience you feel inspired to pass down to the next generation.
Self Actualisation – Providing a sense of personal accomplishment.
Standing at the top of the pyramid is Social Impact. Simply, helping other people.
Some of these values, such as motivation, are more inwardly focussed, whereas others such as organizes are outwardly focussed. The tiers of the pyramid represent the increasing importance of these values to our lives. While this pyramid was created to apply to consumer-to-business and business-to-business relationships, it is easy to see its application in building a truly fulfilling personal experience.
On my recent trip to Switzerland, I was faced with a couple of different activities that were out of my comfort zone, both involving water. I have always had a dislike for cold water and a lack of confidence swimming in oceans / rivers. I was faced with two occasions where I was going to be jumping into a river of cold water. No one was forcing this upon me, but I wanted to really push myself and try and overcome this barrier. The first photo is me psyching myself up for one of these occasions, and then you can see the result once I pushed myself. It may not seem like much, and it doesn’t have to, but to me this felt like a great moment and is something I can look back on in the future as a fond memory.
When it comes to our professional lives, it has been proven that giving is a greater predictor of success than taking, leading to more fulfilling work. If this is true for our work lives, why cant the same be true for our social lives? If you can go on holiday and return feeling fulfilled, motivated and appreciative for all you have, wouldn’t that enrich your life?
But Wait. How Can I Implement This?
So, how do you use this knowledge? How can you incorporate the elements of value into your life? You have two options:
1) Go all in
2) Take transitional steps
If you’re not ready for the all in proposition, consider taking simple steps by looking at the elements in the upper two tiers of the pyramid. Set yourself a goal (in work or for one of your hobbies) that is enough of a stretch that it feels like an accomplishment. Facilitate belonging by joining a book club or similar social group. Create a benchmark holiday that provides you with such a sense of fulfilment that it becomes a rite of passage for your children, friends, nieces and nephews.
So to some up, how can you live your best life? Life won’t hand you value and fulfilment on a silver platter – it is up to you to seek it out. Phrases like “go outside your comfort zone” have become very cliché, but there is a truth to them – by pushing your own boundaries, you can experience a greater sense of fulfilment and truly live a life full of meaning and happiness.