On August 8th, our company kicked off a month long stride-counter program. I am usually not a joiner, and with some reluctance I fastened the new pedometer on my waistband in the interest of company wellness.  Teams were mysteriously created. Team captains leapt to the fore. Once our team created its name—Walk it Like it’s Hot—my enthusiasm kicked up a few notches. The expectation for each of us was 10,000 steps a day, and I thought, I’ll be a good sport, but no way I’m in for that many steps.

By day four I was hooked on this little step-counter thingie. That day I walked and exercised my way to 13,594 steps. Woo hoo! Suddenly this little pedometer stopped feeling like an obligation but rather an adventure. I also noticed that the more I stepped, the better I felt, not only physically but psychologically. It shifted into a thrilling challenge:  Just HOW good will I allow myself to feel today? If 13,594 felt great, what would 15,000 feel like? Then I began thinking of the pedometer as a metaphor for spiritual wellness: How many things can I do each day—not just steps—to amp up my “feel good” meter? If every physical step boosts my total, what about other choices I make in my day?

It should be easy to feel good, right, if it’s just a choice away? It turns out it’s not that easy, or we’d all be feeling great all the time. I’m proposing that how good we feel comes down to one thing: Having an awareness of—being in step with—what we value. If we know what we value, and make choices each day that support that, we feel really good, really alive. For example, I value being physically fit, living juicily, seeing the best in a situation and staying positive and supporting others.  If I make choices out of alignment with that, like not exercising, gossiping, taking more than a few bites of dessert, I feel lousy. In fact, feeling lousy can be a helpful gauge of how in or out of step I am with my values.

The pedometer measures my steps and is thereby, an external, benign caretaker of my well-being. It acts like a gentle coach, motivating me toward wellness, whispering, “Go, Julie, go! The more you do, the better you’ll feel!” Values are my internal caretaker. They are unique to me, and to each of us. They also whisper to me, saying, “Honor me, and you will feel really good!”  Every minute of each day I’m making a choice:  How I treat people around me, how healthily I live, how I respond to challenges. I can now say I want to join a wellness program—professionally AND personally—where feeling good and fully alive are the end goals.

Who can resist stepping into that?