A while back a Yoga instructor prefaced our practice by speaking to stability in our poses. The metaphor she shared was a bed of algae, firmly rooted in the ocean’s floor yet able to freely flow with the waves and currents – given its grounding. That powerful image stayed with me and as I drove home, I was reminded about how important it is to be grounded in our personal values.
Saying, “She’s a generous woman” or “He’s a courageous man” illuminate a person’s deepest priorities in life. Such statements also reflect a person’s personal values.
Values, personal values and core values all refer to the same thing. They are desirable qualities or standards. Values are your driving force, your beliefs, and they influence your actions and reactions. In essence, you are your values.
Everyone has personal values, even if they don’t realize it. And you might be surprised as to how many can’t even articulate theirs. Values last a lifetime. And while they may undergo some change through the years, they’re fairly stable.
Living in agreement with one’s values is tremendously fulfilling. Living in conflict with one’s values is stressful. That’s why it’s key to clearly understand your own personal code of values. Your being depends upon not only knowing your values, but living in accordance with them.
Additionally, discovering one’s core values creates greater self-awareness. It grounds you. And knowledge of your values is the only sustainable basis for goal setting.
So how do you determine or reaffirm your values? Try building your own list from personal experiences by following this simple yet thoughtful process:
- Think of a brief moment in your experience when life was especially satisfying and rewarding.
- What were you doing?
- Who was present?
- What qualities or values were you displaying?
Once you are aligned with and live your values you:
- Follow a clear set of rules and guidelines for your actions.
- Make good decisions. You quickly know what are good choices for you and what are not.
- Find compatible people, places and circumstances that support your way of living.
- Live in integrity. Integrity here doesn’t mean honesty or honor. Integrity means wholeness or completeness – being a whole person. Nothing left out. Being true to yourself.
“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave ’em all over everything you do.” ~Elvis Presley
Beyond grounding, clarity about your values allows you to focus more clearly on being authentic.
Tell others (even me!) how it feels to choose or recommit to the values that you cherish; the values you believe in and that define your character. Living your values is one of the most important tools available to help you be the person you want to be. Would you agree?