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  • Written by Eric North aka “The Happiness Warrior”


Home has a lot of meanings for all of us, but for me home is where I grew up and learned my values in a community of people from all walks of life. Home is a place that shapes our moral compass and ideals. Home is where we feel connected with others who share a commonality of ideals and sense of purpose. What is home to any of us, but a place where we belong as much as a place that we’ll always remember?

As The Happiness Warrior, I believe in the life defining power of understanding our personal core values and the impact that they have on our lives and the world around us. Our values determine our status in life, the quality of our friendships, refine our intellect, and determine our personal happiness. Values help us renew our purpose, strengthen personal intention, and help determine our opportunities in life.

Values are everything we need to know ourselves better and tell the world who we are. Values start at home when we are young and grow as our world expands. They help guide us through the journey of life with clarity, purpose, and intention. The values we project, and share are the key to our humanity and our ability to love ourselves and feel gratitude.

I’ve always believed that life is what we make it and the attitude we choose is everything we need to be our best. It’s the key to being our true and authentic selves. Attitude is often genetic, shaped by our values, and can feel inescapable. It is similar to empathy and something that also develops and grows over time. It defines our actions, creates our choices, determines our outcomes, and defines our meaning.

The attitude we take and the values we hold close are the key to living a better life with more purpose, happiness, and gratitude. Attitude plays such an important role in everything we do but nothing is more important than the attitude we take that determines our core values and hard inescapable truths.

COMMON GROUND

I grew up in a brand-new planned community built deep in the farmlands of Northern Virginia just outside Washington DC. It was the nineteen seventies, a time of social upheaval, the “me generation”, and the world was rapidly changing. Many of the sins of the past were coming to light and the town of Reston, Virginia was specifically designed and built in an attempt to resolve many of them. People from all walks of life would live together, work, recreate, and learn together. It was a great social experiment and one that I’m so grateful for.

Almost subconsciously we lived our lives with a sense of community, social, and racial equality. It wasn’t perfect and there were still people who slipped from the cracks, but for the most part we understood each other and lived in a mindset of tolerance and togetherness. It made us think and it gave us empathy. We went to school together, played together, and developed deep and lasting friendships that crossed racial and religious barriers. I didn't realize it for many years, but we lived in a bubble of tolerance and empathy.

I like to say that I grew up in the right time in the right place and the new and rapidly growing town of Reston was a home that we were proud of.

Despite these almost idyllic beginnings, I had a deep secret and was eager to get out and explore the outside world on my own terms, and by my own rules. I struggled with my sexuality and never revealed my true self to my friends and teammates. I lived in fear of discovery and lived a double life that I didn’t ask for. Fear is a killer of dreams and opportunities and I had built many barriers and defenses. I cared about the people around me more than I cared about myself.

When I went off to college I quickly realized that the rest of the world was drastically different from my upbringing and the values we upheld as a community. For the first time, I saw intolerance and hatred in its many forms. As a young not-so-out gay man, some of it was directed towards me and I found comfort in big cities with people I could feel safe with. I became tougher, more insecure and was a target for abusers. I was killing myself, had too many late nights, destroyed my authenticity, and denied any chance of happiness. I was far removed from the world of my childhood and at odds and struggling with the values that I was raised with. I didn’t trust myself and I lived a fast and reckless life.

Eventually I came to a place where I couldn’t live this life any longer and I broke away from the people and habits that were destroying what was left of my identity. It was a lonely time, but I forced myself to look within. Slowly, I began to trust myself and once again the values from my upbringing prevailed. It thought of the lessons I had learned when I was younger and the power they had in creating my mindset. I dug deep, thought of happier times, and learned to love who I was once again.

I became incredibly happy and wanted to share my feelings and create more happiness for others. This caused a shift, and I began to change my life and became successful on my own terms. I felt the life-changing powers of self-belief and self-discipline. I began to consciously develop a warrior-like mindset for the greater good of all.

The values from my most formative years had saved me and taught me the power of forgiveness, understanding, and the strength of my intention.

SHARED VALUES—THE REUNION

I recently went to my high school reunion and reunited with past memories and friends that I’d known for almost all my life. We were a brand-new high school and the first graduating class. The Seahawks class of 1982, and were determined to leave our imprint on the future.

We had started off as little kids barely knowing how to navigate life and here we were forty years later in all of life’s baggage and glory. It was emotional and my heart swelled to be connected and reunited after so many years. I felt safe and at home with the people who once knew me best and mattered the most.

It was a bit awkward at first but almost magically we were soon laughing and having fun with each other in the sunshine as if time had never passed. We knew our oldest secrets, we trusted one another, and most of all we shared the same values, vulnerabilities, and sense of community. Close Friendships are everything, but our oldest friends are the ones who know us the best.

CORE VALUES

As the Happiness Warrior, I believe that if we truly want to adapt to change and take charge of our lives, we need to examine our innermost thoughts and define the personal core values that make us who we are. Words have spirit and the words we tell ourselves and share with others tell our story shapes their perception. When we can begin to understand the incredible power of words both said and unsaid, we can begin to set our intention, strengthen our mindset, feel our powers grow, and become warriors for our own lives.

Developing a set of Core Values from which to live is a life-changing way to reinvent ourselves and develop a life-affirming mindset. Core values are essential for moving forward and creating a happier and more fulfilling life, aligning us with our true purpose. Carefully thought out and deeply held core values provide us with a faithful compass to guide us on our journey through life.

OUR VALUES CONNECT US

I’ve always believed that all humans are a conglomeration and product of our upbringing, families, and influencers. We learn who we are from spending time with the people in our lives and learning from both their thoughts and behaviors. Sometimes, we see ourselves in the mirror but most of the time we see others in our own perception. We all have our own fears and misconceptions that we defuse throughout our lives.

As The Happiness Warrior, I believe that the values that we carry through life are the guides to creating greater happiness in our lives and the lives of others. The values we hold dearly and live by are ours alone and kept alive as we strengthen our spirit and intention. Our values help others see us for who we are and help determine what’s right and wrong. Values can be passionate and enhance our presence and respect. They can also harm our image, decrease opportunities, and cause us much regret. As I learned in my class reunion there’s nothing better than knowing the values we’ve shared have shaped our lives and still guide us in our actions.

If our values reveal who we are, our core values keep us centered on life’s journey. They remind us of who we are when we face obstacles and keep us focused on our goals. They are essential for living a good life and inform our thoughts, decisions, and actions. They are invaluable in helping us find our true purpose, to become happier from within without external validation. Core values are an expression of who we are and our alignment with our moral, ethical, and empathetic selves.  Nothing defines us with more clarity and self-awareness than an unfailing belief in our personal core values. In an unforgiving world core values give us strength and show that we love who we are and embrace our authenticity. Call or reconnect with one of your oldest friends today and feel the power of your connection!

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