My last post was about how Trello helps me organize my entire life. In that post, you might have seen that there is a “Self Improvement” board. I did not explain then what that category was about. Today, I will talk about a crucial part of my “Self Improvement”- my personal constitution.
What is a personal constitution?
A personal constitution is promising to yourself that, under no circumstance will you bend or brush aside certain values you cherish. It is a perfect tool to prevent yourself from being paralyzed when you have to make an important decision. It reminds us who we are, and what really makes us happy. Let me explain.
As human beings, we probably agree on the most crucial aspects of life. Most of us desire and try to be happy; we want to live a safe, secure, comfortable life; we would do our best to protect our loved ones and so on. But our differences do matter in the daily life. Our priorities are different, and our “ways of life” might clash with each other. If I think that non-human animals deserve to live while you make bone broth every morning, our partnership will not be a smooth sail.
There are times when we all brush things off for the sake of living in peace. I know that my husband would not prefer to have our cats jump on the bed, but, knowing that they got used to this when I was still single, and appreciating how sleeping on the bed makes the little furry babies feel secure and comfortable, he ignores it. This means that some of our values, and in certain situations, can be brushed aside.
The constitution is for those values which should not be brushed aside. If I breach these values, I know that I will regret it eventually. I think that these are some of the main values that make me who I am and allow me to live my life in alignment with my principles. But that is not why I put them in writing.
Why do I need them written?
You might ask me: Seriously, don’t you know who you are? Why do you need to write your own values down?
I do not write all of my values down. But I do write the ones that I need to remind myself of. These are the values which have not yet become like a second nature to me. In other words, I do not have the luxury to take them for granted. So, for instance, “do not steal” is not in my Constitution, because I know that I will not steal anything from anyone. No need to put that in writing. But “be mindful” needs to be written, because I am still working on that one. Think about habits: I do not have “brush your teeth” in my to-do list every day, but I might still have to remind myself to meditate, even though I have been doing that (and enjoying it!) for a while by now.
To put it crudely, I have this Constitution to help me become and stay as the person I want to be. Values, like good habits, need to be cherished, repeated, remembered on a regular basis. I have experienced the importance of writing on other occasions related to self-help and self-care. For example, I talk about how writing helps with insecurity here. Once written, abstract things become real, they become a promise to myself, a ground to that rebalances me when things go haywire. Now that I have already decided to be “free from guilt and immune to regret” (see #8 below), every time I start to doubt myself or blame myself for someone’s wrongdoing, or unfortunate, I can, and will, take a step back.
Here are my personal “Amendments”
In addition, if you are curious as to what those priorities are, below is a screenshot of my priorities. Because I have already made my mind about my priorities, if I have to choose between a task at work or an errand to run for someone else and my home life, I choose my home life without feeling guilty, or spending time trying to decide what to do.
I am sensitive to any fluctuation. Too much stress? A sudden change? Too many changes? Changing jobs? Moving out? Someone’s bad news- too much empathy? Overload of choice, or overload of information? I either lose a lot of weight, or gain a lot of weight, or lose sleep for days. But since I decided on my “amendments” (and my priorities) I have been able to present myself in a different life. I am now able to make choices with much less effort, based on what really matters to me in the long run. Everything is easier once you have your priorities straight.
Do you have something like a Constitution? Do you think having your fragile but cherished values in writing helps to organize your life, and prevent any “paradox of choice”? Let me know, please!!