My New Year's Resolution: Chickens and Sour Grass

The holidays have come and gone. They left behind a pile of pine needles to track around the house, clothes to be returned and a new computer to consolidate photos. Going through photos is a poignant reminder of Dr. Kelly Wilson's teaching: values and pain are poured from the same vessel. There is a twinge of sadness and when I see pictures of my oldest son dancing to the Beatles at age two. There is a sweet longing when I see pictures of my youngest son picking sour grass to feed the chickens as they graze free in the yard. These photos are painful because they remind me of my values - values of motherhood, connection, nature, mindfulness. 

Since discovering Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) over 8 years ago, I have been on a quest to live a life that is more in line with my values. I want my values to guide my work, parenting, partnership, friendships and alone time. 


As an evidence based practitioner, it is important to me that research validate what I know in my heart. Sonja Lyubomirsky and her research group atUC Riverside has demonstrated that only about 10% of our happiness is related to life circumstances (money, status, health, job). Half of our happiness is due to heritability (yes, you can thank your parents and grandparents for your sour or sweet disposition). But, the good news is 40% of our happiness is under our power to change! Research suggests that we can grow this happiness by having a sense of meaning in our lives. In other words living a life that is in line with our values.

What if what you have been working so hard to get (wealth, prestige at work, a kitchen remodel, a clean house) is steering you in the wrong direction? What if happiness is available to you right now, under your nose? 

by Shel Silverstein

by Shel Silverstein

In the next series of posts, I will define values and present a series of exercises to set you on the path toward living a life more in line with your values in the new year. In the meantime, I'm off to feed the chickens with the kids, singing "Here comes the sun" along the way.