Identifying your core values can be key to guide how you show up in your life, the choices that you make and how you move forward. These five values guide me in my life and my work.


I’m a glass half-full kind of gal. That’s not to say that there isn’t tough stuff for all of us to go through and that things never feel dark and difficult, but there are usually silver linings to be found. Optimism isn’t about looking through rose-coloured glasses, but being able to keep moving forward even when things don’t seem to be in our favour. It is about finding reasonable hope, and finding joy and wonder in the everyday. It is about trusting that we never know what good things might be on the way.


For me, thoughtfulness is about really listening with my ears, eyes and heart. It is understanding who someone is and what is going on for them so I can relate and respond in ways that resonate. Whether in my professional or personal life, it is about asking good questions and being able to provide perspective because I’ve really considered a scenario. There is so much richness to be found in the details and idiosyncrasies of people and situations.


I’m a big fan of continually evolving. We all experience struggle in life, but we can minimize how often, how long and how intense our struggles are by developing newer, wiser ways of being. I think most people have an “I don’t know how I did it, but I made it through!” story about being surprised by how remarkably resilient they were during a really difficult time. We are hardwired to bounce back and keep moving forward, but it can be helpful to have a look at the tools in our proverbial toolbox so we don’t struggle any more than we have to.


There is nothing quite like that feeling when we try something for the first time or finally master an activity or practice that was a struggle. Regardless of our circumstances, when we have the know-how, resources, and belief in ourselves to participate in what is meaningful to us, transformation can happen in our lives. Having a wise friend, a knowledgeable guide, or a caring professional in our corner can empower us to explore parts of ourselves we might not have otherwise.


Courage is about wholeheartedly showing up in our lives. I’ll be the first to admit, I like feeling safe and certain, but I also am usually game for a good adventure. For me, the unexpected gifts, and often useful lessons, that come from doing things that feel scary are worth the discomfort of not knowing how things were going to turn out. Brené Brown’s research on vulnerability has strengthened my belief that courage is not only found in big momentous acts, but often in the small moments of our lives. Asking for help, sitting with uncertainty, saying what we feel, or doing what is meaningful to us even when no on else joins us. These daily acts of courage help us to make the most of this wild ride of being a human being, even (or especially!) when things don’t go as planned.

Karen Gilbert Occupational Therapy and Consulting
Vancouver BC, Canada



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