What are Your Values?

When you get older you seem to get more reflective—at least it that appears to be happening to me. At 81 I often wonder what I can I share with people that would make their lives easier. What are the important things young people need to know?  What are the “nuggets” I have to share with those who are just starting out? One of those “gems of wisdom” (if I can be so bold to call it that) would be to know what you value.  It’s a simple question:  what are your values? The answer may not be so simple.

In her book, Choosing Happiness: Life and Soul Essentials,  Stephanie Dowrick states:

Discovering who you are and what your values are is a lifelong task that is frequently accelerated in the face of  loss: loss of job, country, marriage, health, loved ones or friendship.  When the familiar props fall you are left with  “nothing,” nothing but your own self and values And these most crucial questions:

What gives your life meaning?

What meaning are  you bringing to life?

These are huge questions and can’t be answered with something “off the top of your head.”  Do you know what your values are?

What are your values?

A natural response would be to list things you think should be on your value list: honor, sincerity, love, family, loyalty, etc. An easy response would be to Google “values” and pick from a list of “warm and fuzzies.” Here is one of the better lists that might be helpful. And as you begin to define your values, this article may also be of help.

Look at your life

The more challenging, but also more meaningful way to identify your real values is to look at your life. What in your life shouts out your values? Do you reach out to help others to demonstrate the values of love, giving, charity, caring? Does your speech reflect the value of positive thinking, of education, of kindness, of thoughtfulness of gentleness? Does your body show that you value health, wellness, and strength? When you examine your checkbook, does it reveal a dedication to accumulating more stuff or to learning, to helping others, to “giving back”?

What meaning are you bringing to life?

The next questions are equally important: What meaning are you bringing to life? Ask your spouse,  your friends, and your co-workers.  And, of course, ask yourself, “What do I do that contributes to the life of those around me?” Does the positive you bring outweigh the negative? Are you a giver or a taker? Do you build others up or tear them down? Do you reach out to help more than you reach out to be helped? When you find yourself in a group of complainers, do you join in or do you shift the conversation to talk about what is good and what is uplifting? Listen to your own conversations. What do you hear? Are you proud of the way you conduct yourself verbally? Do you leave people feeling better or worse after having a conversation with you? Pay attention to their reaction to your words. These are only a few suggestions, but you can flesh them out and ask the questions that are relevant to your own review.

Be honest with yourself. If you aren’t pleased with what you discover, determine what you can do about it.

This can be one of the best things you’ve ever done for yourself so do it thoughtfully, thoroughly and honestly.

Begin your adventure of discovery: what ARE your values?

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