“He Who Has a Why to Live For Can Bear Almost Any How.”
Values can play a major role in supporting our well-being and promoting our resilience. What comes to mind when you ask yourself about your personal values?
It is not uncommon for people to struggle when asked to identify values. However, taking time to identify and think through our core values can have a significant impact on our mindset and decision-making as well as our sense of purpose and meaning as we navigate the ups and downs of everyday life.
Values are basic beliefs that guide or motivate attitudes and actions. They can describe personal qualities we would like to embody as well as the way we approach tasks and treat others. Essentially, values involve our subjective sense of the right way for us to live.
Values can play an important role in major life decisions as well as small momentary decisions and behaviors. In fact, living according to our values in small ways is often the most impactful way for us to come to embody our values more fully and begin to experience a greater sense of purpose and meaning.
Living into your values starts by identifying your values. Reviewing a values inventory online is a helpful way to start. Several examples include values such as acceptance, achievement, authenticity, creativity, career, curiosity, faith, family, forgiveness, friendship, generosity, gratitude, growth, humor, integrity, justice, kindness, knowledge, leisure, moderation, parenting, patience, self-care, self-expression, service, spirituality, thrift, understanding, usefulness, and wisdom.
You can also ask yourself the following questions:
What motivates you?
What makes you smile?
What makes you feel good about yourself?
What most impacts how you live you life?
What three things could you not live without?
What advice would you give to others?
What character traits do you view as most important?
What would you like others to remember about you?
What accomplishments are you most proud of and why?
Who do you aspire to be like and why?
Take a few moments to write down at least three values that resonate with you. Next, take a few moments to write down tangible examples of how you might live into your values or the goals related to your values. If you selected friendship, you might use an example of reaching out to one friend each week to live into this value. If you selected self-expression, you might set aside time each week to write, create art, play music, or work on some other type of creative project. If you selected patience, you might set a goal to consciously slow yourself down and practice patience when stuck in a long line or while calming an upset child. Lastly, if you selected generosity, you might find a few concrete ways of being generous with your time, skills, or other resources.
In addition to tangible examples, living into your values can also be thought of as an active practice for generating and connecting with meaning and purpose in your life. As a practice, you might select two or three of the values you identified and remind yourself of these values throughout the day. Some people find it helpful to place notecards around their home or in their closet. When you are faced with a challenge, you can remind yourself of the opportunity to live into your values. You can also incorporate your values into your meditation practice by restating your core values to yourself and imagining yourself living in ways that align with your values.
It can be easy to get lost as we strive to keep up with the demands of daily life. Sometimes it is easy to forget why we do the things we do each day. In some cases, we may even feel lost and confused about decisions we made and the way our life has been unfolding. We may ask, “what is the point of this?
In many cases, identifying, connecting, and intentionally living into your values can provide some answers to these questions. As we live into our values, we are likely to experience greater clarity around the decisions we make and the way we approach our daily life as we connect to an underlying sense of meaning and purpose that is essential to our well-being.
Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.
Visit us at lindquistpsych.com
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