You have probably heard the saying by Malcolm X: “if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” This “something” he was referring to was probably values. So what are personal values and why do you need them? This article will help clear up any confusion and reaffirm why you should have a strong list of values in order to attain fulfillment in your life.
What Are Personal Values?
Personal values can be defined as fundamental way in which one chooses to live their lives. If you were a doughnut; then your personal values would be the caramel with which you are glazed. How sweet your life turns out would be dependent on how thickly you are glazed. Okay so lets stop talking about doughnuts and get back to personal values.
Personal values are the rules or guidelines by which you choose to live your life. Many of us inadvertently pick up these values from our parents or those closest to us. In fact whether you know it or not; you have personal values you live by which you have probably not dissected in great detail. This is the code of conduct that controls the boundaries of your behavior. For e.g. is stealing acceptable based on your values? where do you draw the line when it comes to the way you treat people?
Everyone has values whether they realize it or not:
The strange thing is that even the most cold hearted people seem to have values. Just look at the movies for e.g. Characters that are drug king pins may have poor values with regards to the lives that they destroy; however they still show love towards those in their inner circle. These are the values by which they live which makes for e.g. the act of killing or selling drugs easy for them; however losing someone they love extremely painful.
Now that you understand the meaning behind having values – the next step is to find out what values you currently live by and then determine which one’s need changing. You can then create your personal values list which will create awareness of the set of principles you choose to govern your life. Make it a habit to read over these principles on a regular basis so that it is hardwired in your mind to prevent deviations. Also remember that change is inevitable; therefore your values need to be adjusted as you grow in different areas of your life. This is not a bad thing and instead means that you are shifting focus of what is important in your life. This does not mean that the fundamentals of being a good person needs to change.
The Importance Of Personal Values
So now that you know what personal values are; the next step is to understand it’s importance. Highlighted below are some of the main reasons why personal values are crucial and why you should start implementing them today.
It Influences Your Decisions (Guides You)
When you are having trouble making a decision, it is often because there are too many choices. This is often referred to as the paradox of choice as written about in this Psychology Today post. Having values therefore helps by reducing the options available to you. This is because values define what is right and wrong based on your moral compass. For e.g. If you have values that states anything that hurts others is not permitted in your life; then if an easy opportunity to steal were to present itself – you wouldn’t have a difficult time making a decision to look the other way.
If you were to not have this value however, then you would have an internal battle with yourself. The one part of your brain convincing you why it is wrong while the other part tries to explain the benefits of going ahead with the crime. The key is to embed your values so deeply in your core such that it is unwavering. No matter how tempting it is to break them, you need to stand firmly in what you believe. Remember every decision you make defines the person you are becoming.
It Affects How People Treat You
Another reason why you should have values is because it dictates how people treat you; and also the way you choose to let people treat you. As with all things in life – there needs to be boundaries. You need to have self-respect and identify when you are being taken advantage of. If you don’t have values that let you know when your boundaries are being crossed – the end result is being stuck in toxic relationships, a low self-esteem and you feeling shitty about yourself on a perpetual basis. You will find that people who are grounded by strong values are often in healthier relationships or positions of leadership. This is because people know the level of respect they should give them and the repercussions of not doing so.
Happiness – It Guides You To The Right Path
Essentially, one of the main reasons you should establish values is happiness. The problem with happiness, is that acquiring it, is not an exact science. There are several variables that could result in you feeling happy or depressed in your life. Consequently, the decisions and actions you choose to take on a daily basis will also affect the outcome of you being happy. And as mentioned above, the decisions we make should be governed by our values – therefore our values should be defined around what makes us happy. You can’t always be happy, and that is a normal part of life however the key is to try and live each day with as much happiness, fulfillment and purpose no matter what life throws at us.
To learn how to live life consciously and with a clear perspective; read this ultimate guide: A Mindful Approach To Self Actualization
How has having a strong value system benefited your life. Comment below – we would love to hear from you.