Living in line with your values and priorities isn’t always easy

Sonnie Bailey

3 March 2023

One of the themes of this blog is the importance of aligning your decisions with your values and priorities.

Sometimes, this isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s hard.

I like getting older. The more I know and experience, the more interesting life gets.

My life tends to get better most years – objectively and subjectively.

But that isn’t set in stone, and there are exceptions to the rule. 2022 was an exception. For me, it was a pretty bad year.

There were some awesome parts to 2022. I got to spend six weeks in Europe on a daddy-daughter adventure. My wife has kicked some professional goals, and I feel a huge sense of vicarious pride for what she has achieved and the impact she has had on other people.

I’m also the first to admit that I have a lot to be grateful for. I can direct the spotlight to frame my in technicolour. I’m the beneficiary of amazing good fortune.

But still. I’m glad that 2022 has ended.

I’ve had to navigate the highs and lows of living – and working from home – in a household with someone with fairly severe dementia.

I’ve had to become familiar with many different forms of neurodiversity. It has been a journey.

A lot of other things piled up in quick succession, and it has been hard to see an end in sight. Even though I know there are better days ahead.

Despite it all, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Have these challenges been conducive to my short-term happiness, in any hedonistic sense? Not. at. all. In fact, there have been moments where I couldn’t remember what happiness was: it was an idea I could grasp intellectually, but only intellectually. There have been times when I’ve been like Eeyore.

But I’m in a situation where I’m living in line with my values and priorities. And this is more important than in-the-moment happiness.

In particular, there have been many moments where I’ve regretted getting into a situation where we’ve had to deal with dementia. Perhaps the costs – to my own well-being, and to our children – weren’t worth it.

But those moments pass, and I know that when my wife and I are in the twilight of our lives, it will be something we’ll be proud of. We’ve given a few extra good years of life to someone we love.

It’s the same with the forms of neurodiversity we’re learning to manage. To the extent they present us with challenges, they also have strengths that more than make up for some hurdles they’ve presented us with. We’ll look back and be proud.

If I were religiously inclined, I’d think that God gave us these challenges because we were equipped to deal with them and turn them into strengths.

At the end of the day, happiness – at least, in the hedonistic, moment-to-moment sense – doesn’t factor into it.

I have values and priorities, and sometimes this involves commitments that need to be made and obeyed.

Happiness, in any superficial sense, is shadowed by something more important. A deeper, more profound sense of meaning and underlying satisfaction.

Another form of happiness.

Even on dark days, there are rays of light, and moments of levity, joy, and happiness.

And I remind myself: life has seasons and chapters. Some chapters are more pleasant than others. It can be a trap to assess our lives based on what is happening in the current moment, because that doesn’t tell the full story of our lives.

All we can do is make sure that we are conducting ourselves in line with our values and priorities.

Even if it’s hard. Perhaps – especially when it’s hard.


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