Action expresses priorities." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Hi from Sophie
As we hurtle towards the end of the year, time can really seem to speed up, (the way it feels in the morning when you are in a hurry and trying to get out the door!)
And so often, you can feel overwhelmed with the plethora of end of year celebrations and commitments, whether it's with work, family or friends.
I know that's sometimes how I can feel.
Yet for many of us, whether you accept those invitations or not, it can be one of loneliest times of the year.
So how to see a way forward?
What I realised is that saying yes to everything means you are valuing all your interactions and different ways to spend your time equally.
And that's rarely the case.
Living an authentic life, a life with meaning, means giving priority to those values that you cherish, above all others.
In other words, it means working out what matters most to you and making it a priority.
Take a moment to think:
What will help you feel the most fulfilled this holiday season?
Will you get as much joy and sense of connection by spending time at your work Xmas drinks as you would by making time to catch up with your closest friends?
And how you choose to spend your time and whether it aligns with your values matters.
Science shows that connecting with others and living according to your core values can increase your energy and sense of wellbeing.
It's part of the 'self determination theory', developed by Prof. Edward Deci from the University of Rochester and Prof. Richard Ryan, from the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at Australian Catholic University.
The theory explores our natural tendencies to behave in effective and healthy ways by satisfying three basic needs of 'relatedness, competence, and autonomy'.
In simple terms, the theory is that if these needs are met, you will feel well and happy and flourish.
Autonomy is arguably the most important when it comes to living an authentic life.
It's defined as the universal urge to be the driver of your own life and to act in harmony with your self.
What I realised after reading the research was that if you can reflect your priorities and what really matters to you in what you do every day, in how you interact with others, and how you choose to spend your time, you feel much happier.
As I wrote in Roadtesting Happiness, it's not always easy to work out what will make your heart sing and boost your feelings of connection with others.
Try this exercise to focus your thoughts.
The three people who I feel happiest with are:
The three most rewarding experiences I want this holiday season are:
The three practices I promise to do for myself are:
Fundamentally, it comes down to actively thinking about and making choices about how you spend your time and where you put your energy.
When you live more authentically and act according to what really matters to you, you feel happier and more alive.
And this holiday season, when you can feel pulled in many directions, take a moment to reflect what will fill you with joy, so you can spread that love and joy to those around you.
Until next time,
Sophie Scott is the ABC's medical reporter. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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