Welcome back readers. As promised last time, today we are going to be exploring the idea of values and talking about why they are important to our pursuit of personal happiness. Lets get into it shall we?
Well maybe before we start talking about values, we should first come to an understanding of what I am talking about. For the purpose of this discussion, I’m using the word values to mean ‘the things that are important or good in life’. We all have values even if we haven’t given much direct thought to them. And yes, our values differ from person to person. What I think is important may be different to what you think and that is totally ok. The main thing is that we take some time to understand what our own personal values are. Once we make our values explicit in our mind, we can then set about ensuring that the life we live and the actions we take day to day align with our values. I personally believe that this alignment between values and action go a long way in creating happiness.
A handy exercise to help figure out what your values are, is to simply write down the things that are important to you. Now, if you’re anything like me you may just sit there staring at the blank paper for a while not knowing where to start. To help with this, I have included a link at the end of this post to a checklist of values that may help to get you started. As you will see I have divided these values into 3 different categories and given a short explanation of each. Again, I just want to say, this is simply my own view, not an exhaustive list. It is there to help as a guide if you need it.
Let’s look at the three categories I use for defining values.
Some values are the things that we do. We can value spending time with friends, we can value building things, we can value being creative, we can value working hard on something. I call these our Physical Values. The things we physically love to do.
Some values are not what we do but rather the way we think or personality traits that we feel are important. I call these our Character Values.
Some values are things that we can actually get or achieve. These can be physical possessions or more abstract concepts. I call these Achievement Values.
So now we know what I’m talking about the question remains, how do values affect our happiness? Well the way I see it is it’s not so much values alone but rather the alignment between our values and our actions. When we are living a life that not only aligns with our Character Values but also gives us plenty of time to engage with our Physical Values and opportunities to achieve those things that are important to us, we are providing harmony between what we are doing and what we believe to be right and good.
If we find ourselves feeling unhappy with a situation or some part of our life (work, home, relationship), it may be useful to examine how well our values are aligned to what is happening. Looking for ways to improve the alignment may help to improve the sense of satisfaction we get from that part of our life or situation.
And this bring us to goal setting. You see, values are just as important to our goals as they are to our current situations. When I look at my own past, I know there have been times when I have set goals, achieved them and not felt the fulfilment I would normally feel after success. Looking back I can see that those goals did not align with my values. This does not mean they were bad or wrong to do, they just didn’t hold the level of importance needed to bring me a sense of lasting happiness.
In my next post I will explore goal setting a little deeper but for now, whether you already have goals set or are planning new goals to work towards, take some time to think about how those goals align with your values. By doing so, you will be ensuring that your time is being spent on what is really important to you. And this my friends, is one of the keys to true happiness.
As usual I like to finish with a question. So here we go.
What is important to you? What are your values?
I look forward to hearing from you all and don’t forget that if you need help getting started with your values list, have a look at mine here.
Thanks for reading