There may not be a meaning to life, but life has to be lived with meaning – especially during this current shit show. The alternative is headlessly floating around adding to the impending explosion Anna Bradley-Smith writes.

Every day I think about the ways I could be a better person.

I pick up the free-range organic eggs, and then eat takeout egg fried rice. I recycle at home, but I only use paper cups at cafes. I abhor exploitation, but go ham at the 99-cent store.

Looking in the mirror I try to see someone who is independent, creative and brave, compassionate and kind, and works for their community.

Sometimes I get a glimpse, but so often I feel I compromise on things that would help me get there.

As the 20th century British explorer Freya Stark said – “There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.”

A recent decision to give up meat after being commissioned to write about climate change has turned my mind to my values. For years I’d been running from the obvious around cows and sustainability, and the time arrived for me to turn around and face up.

But within a week I was eating beef curry and shoveling handfuls of my roommate’s mince nachos into my mouth. I genuinely believe in doing what I can, so why can’t I say no to a hotdog?!

I realized I only adopt habits that are convenient, or, in the case of non-free range chicken, repulse me enough to not be an option any more.

I wear Nike shoes, I’m constantly aware of unfair judgements forming in my mind and I let food rot in the fridge time and again. Granted I don’t shop online, but that’s just because I don’t have patience, money or a letterbox.

I’ve become laissez-faire about things I care about, I have checked out.

Values keep us focused and motivated – they give our lives a sense of purpose. Whether they come from your family, your culture, or your life education; if you don’t align with them it’s hard to feel authentic about anything you do. Eventually the small compromises add up enough to grind you down, and the conscience objects.

Think everyone that’s bailed from the Trump administration – at some point they couldn’t keep playing themselves.

According to the dictionary, values are: A person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgement of what is important in life.

They are totally subjective and even when shared can be markedly different –  how you interpret putting your family first could play out opposite to the person next to you.

Either way, they shape each of our decisions and reflect our lives in every way; friends, relationships, field of work, employer. How all our time is spent.

According to some internet research, every person has around 5-7 values that identify who they are at the core. To find them – again – according to the internet, you need to think of the most amazing point of your life, your best day ever, where everything was just great. Now write it down and dissect why it was so great, ’cause no doubt your values will be intertwined in it.

For example: My time in India comes to mind, I don’t think it matters it wasn’t one day. I won’t go into detail but it was enlightening for me.

And from it, what that what I think I value most is: being able to be independent, brave and creative, being part of a supportive and social community and helping it thrive, using what I have to do work that’s worthwhile and helps people who struggle to get representation, moving with kindness and compassion, and of course my Mumma being happy no matter what. Yes, they are longwinded, and yes, I will endeavor to make them more bite size.

I know that trade-offs have to be made, especially when you’re living off a pittance in New York. But if those values are always in the back of my mind when I’m making decisions I feel like I’d be retaining a little bit more of my soul in every sale.

And with that I hope to find a bit more joie de vivre.


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