Several times we have looked at values and how they can affect our lives and how we interact with the world and the challenges that we face in this life. We have come to the determination that living aligned with our values is the greatest source of happiness and contentment and have taken the time to understand how we can behave in accordance with our values. We have even developed ways to find and understand our values through introspection and self-analysis. I recently went on a road trip that showed me that the process of finding and understanding our values is never truly done, it is something that we need to do time and time again as we grow, learn and live.
I have lived my entire life within 20 minutes of a major city. I have grown up in that city and worked in that city and since it wasn’t one of the massive ones we hear about all the time, I assumed it was a good slice of normal life around our country. As such I have been accepting as the price of living has increased dramatically over the past few years, assuming it was a common trend. So now, making more than I ever have in my life, I am at a point where my quality of living is less than it was 10 years ago because of where I am living. This road trip showed me something very different and got me thinking about what I really want or need to live a happy life.
I visited a friend halfway across the country and we got to talking about the house they lived in and the costs of living in that area of the world. It was a nice, quiet community with a lot of green and growing things and far too much water in the air for this Colorado native, but it was peaceful and pleasant. Then I found out that the cost of the home was half of what a similar home would cost in my neck of the woods and that the cost of living in the other aspects of life were similarly reduced. I found out that a home actually in the nearby city, a city that was once thriving and is now working to rebound back to being thriving, is literally 10 times less expensive than the same home in Denver where I live. That was a real shock to my outlook on life and got me thinking about what I really need to call somewhere home.
The drive back gave me plenty of time to watch out the window at the passing towns and examine what a life in those areas would mean to me and the results astounded me. To have a home and the quality of life I wanted, I would be willing to sacrifice quite a lot. First off, I would be willing to increase my commute each day as I still have one. This is something that I thought I had reached a maximum on as I spend an hour in traffic both ways currently. Yet for the right home and the right quality of living, I would happily increase that cost. Additionally, I would be willing to take a pay cut and work a less desirable job to have a home that made me happy as long as the quality of living didn’t decrease. This was a real shock to me as I equate the amount of money I earn with the quality of life I lead. Yet the trip showed me that I can earn less and still increase the quality of my living.
The trip made me take a close look at my values and what I wanted and needed from life and the results were not what I had expected or even had considered previously. I am now looking towards my future with a different heart and different hopes. I encourage you all to take a trip, be it physical or mental and really explore those areas of life that have not been available to you before and see if there are any deeply held values there that might change as your views of the world around you change. It can be a shocking and uplifting feeling.
Life’s too short to have bad days! What are YOU doing to make today fantastic?