GPS For Your Brain
Values are like a GPS, and when thoughtfully curated, they guide our lives to greater fulfilment and success. Beyond impacting a personal or professional mission and vision statement, knowing our values improves mental health by supporting the brain in handling stress and anxiety in a powerful way.
How does this work? Values guide decisions by highlighting our priorities; therefore, we minimize overwhelm when we're connected to our values. When we have too many tabs open - too many things to focus on, too many details to handle, and too many unmade decisions, the fear centre in the brain or the amygdala stays on high alert. Studies have found that when we focus on our values, we narrow the field and make quicker decisions, thereby allowing the brain to relax. The more targeted the focus, the easier the decisions and the more manageable life starts to feel.
If you’re already feeling stressed and overwhelmed, you may find it’s tough to know where to start. So, to help your brain and to begin reducing anxiety, you want to make tiny decisions. This prevents the prefrontal cortex (executive, decision-making brain) from running on the hamster wheel of options. Not only is the constant evaluation and rumination, exhausting it's not effective. This is a side-effect of trying to find the perfect option or control the outcome. Since neither of these things is possible, the hamster wheel spins. So, instead, review your values, and choose good enough, happier, and slightly better. A tiny decision has a huge impact by supporting you in feeling in charge of, and On Purpose in your life. Tiny decisions and actions boost confidence and increase dopamine, a happiness hormone, which creates the desire and energy to do more.
Begin to identify your values today. They are the words you enter into your GPS that describe what's important to you and the feeling and qualities you want to experience. You can start by asking a few questions: What activities make me feel most fulfilled? When have I been happiest, and what was happening to support that? If I were to look back at my life at 92, what would I say I was the proudest of? What would I want others to say about me?
By identifying where you want to go and claiming your values, you can make tiny choices with massive benefits, and your brain will thank you.
I'd love to hear your values and what small but mighty decision you'll make today.
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