Improving Your Values
Your values are the basis for how you measure success or failure in yourself and everyone else. Getting in touch with your values is a very valuable and worthwhile thing to do. I have outlined a method to do that in my “Uncovering your Core Values” article. Not all values are created equal though, and today, I’d like to explore the value of a good value.
Mark Manson is a man I admire. I enjoy his humorous and sometimes crass but direct way of giving me information. There are so many great concepts available and I highly recommend his writings. One of the coolest things that I learned from reading his book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F#@k” was the difference between good and bad values.
I often avoid the words “good” and “bad” and tend to replace them with “helpful” and “unhelpful” as I think of them as loaded with judgement, but in the spirit of Manson, “F@#k that!”
Having better values to live by will lead to better behaviours and a more meaningful life. That’s worth the effort, but how do you know if what you value is good or bad?
Good values are
* Based in reality
* Socially constructive and
* Immediate and controllable.
* Rely on external events
* Are out of your control and
* Often require socially destructive things to happen.
Some common values that create problems
Pleasure as a core value of life is very superficial and can lead to other problems such as addiction and obesity. These days, pleasure is easy to obtain and easy to lose. We tend to fixate on it and use it to numb ourselves but unfortunately pleasure by itself is not sufficient for happiness.
Material success only affects happiness up until the basic needs are met. Problems can occur when making money is prioritised over other, more important values (see below).
Always Being Right.
We are very unlikely to be 100% correct at any given moment. You can’t learn from your mistakes, empathise or take on new perspectives or information if you never admit to being wrong. Better to assume that you don’t know much as it promotes a constant state of learning and growth.
Positivity is okay to a point but prioritising above all things is unreal. If negative emotions are denied, this can lead to deeper negative emotions for longer and emotional disjunction. This is more avoidance than dealing with life’s problems. Express negative emotions in alignment with your values and in a socially acceptable, healthy manner. Don’t deny the existence of problems because that denies the opportunity to solve the problems and generate happiness. This gives a sense of meaning and importance to life.
If you identify with values like these that are out of your control or socially destructive... the first step is to celebrate this awareness.
The good news is that changing what you values is possible but it does take time and concentrated effort. Rather than focusing on the old value you don't want, try replacing it with a value that is constructive, real, immediate and controllable.
Manson's five life changing values are a fine place to start:
* Taking responsibility (for your perception of the situation) regardless of who is at fault
* Uncertainty - the acknowledgment of your own ignorance. Doubting your beliefs is a great way to learn and change.
* Failure - the willingness to discover your flaws and mistakes so that they may be improved upon
* Rejection - say and hear no. Set and hold boundaries. Don't be afraid
* Contemplation of ones own mortality - this is crucial to keep the other values in proper perspective.
Taking on these new values may require a deep excavation of your limiting beliefs and will work best using affirmations and creating supportive habits.
Good luck and let me know how I can help
I am a rational, secular, humanist, personal developer. I am a semi-spiritual, men’s work advocating, feminist, musical, meditative man. I am a work in progress. I tenaciously strive towards my authentic, ideal self, seeing it as a compass point rather than a destination. I compassionately accept the perpetual gap between my actual and ideal self as I appreciate how far I have already travelled. I take opportunities, appreciate my virtues and own my flaws and shadows. I am committed to a deep sense of purpose to create a world of safety by helping people improve their relationships with themselves and others