Values – Basic Info

Hi there everybody.

For some reason the past couple of weeks I have been spending a lot of time on values work. I thought I should post this values info to make it easy to find.

I wrote some of the stuff below, but most of it is not mine- I just cut and pasted, then edited it a little to make it fit better here in Memphis TN USA. Check out the work of Kelly Wilson or Russ Harris for lots more info.  And, as always, there is more than you can read at the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science.

There are definitely physical limits to what any of us can do regarding actualizing our values. We are all constrained at some level by resources like time, health, physics, biology, genetics, etc.

Abraham Maslow created a triangle-shaped hierarchy of needs that started with physiology at the base and was topped off by self actualization at the apex.  The point is that survival needs always trump everything else, so the more our survival is threatened the less likely we are to focus on anything else. When we are puking with a stomach virus, we won’t be contemplating our next creative effort or social justice or anything else.

Values, however, are not the same as needs, thus income and living one’s values are not necessarily correlated. A wealthy person usually has an easier time being comfortable, but the wealthy person might have a harder time being a decent person by living according to her values.

Values answer questions about your ideals like:

What sort of qualities do you want to cultivate as a person?
What do you want your life to stand for?
How do you want to be in your relationships with friends?
What role do you want to play in your community? In your culture?
Deep down inside, what is important to you?

Values are principles that can guide us and motivate us as we move through life. They are our deep aspirations for the way we want to interact with and relate to the world, other people, and ourselves.

Values are not the same as goals. Values are directions we keep moving in, whereas goals are what we want to achieve along the way.

A value is usually an orientation, or a process, like heading North; a goal is like the river or mountain or valley we aim to cross while traveling in that direction. Goals can be achieved or ‘crossed off’, whereas values are ongoing processes.

For example, if you want to be a loving, caring, supportive person, that is a value – an ongoing process. If you stop being loving, caring and supportive, then you are no longer a loving, caring, supportive person; you are no longer living by that value.

In contrast, if you want to get married, that’s a goal – it can be ‘crossed off’ or achieved. Once you’re married, you’re married – even if you start treating your partner very badly.

If you want a certain income, that’s a goal. Once you’ve got it – goal achieved. But if you want to creatively apply yourself toward generating income, that’s a value – an ongoing process.

Examining some typical areas that people value–

Not everyone has the same values, and this is not a test to see whether you have the “correct” values. The following are areas of life that are valued by some, but not all people.

Think about each area in terms of general life directions, rather than in terms of specific goals. There may be certain areas that you don’t value much; skip over them if you wish.

There may be areas that overlap – e.g. if you love hiking, that may indicate that you value both physical health and recreation.

It is important that you contemplate what you would value if there were nothing in your way. What do you really be willing to care about? What’s really important? And what you would like to work towards?

1. Family. What sort of brother/sister, son/daughter, uncle/auntie do you want to be? What personal qualities would you like to bring to those relationships? What sort of relationships would you like to build? How would you interact with others if you were the ideal you in these relationships?

2. Marriage/couples/intimate/romantic relations. What sort of partner would you like to be in an intimate relationship? What personal qualities would you like to develop? What sort of relationship would you like to build? How would you interact with your partner if you were the ‘ideal you’ in this relationship?

3. Parenting. What sort of parent would you like to be? What sort of qualities would you like to have? What sort of relationships would you like to build with your children? How would you behave if you were the ‘ideal you’?

4. Friendships/social life. If you could be the best friend possible, how would you behave towards your friends? What sort of friendships would you like to build?What sort of qualities would you like to bring to your friendships?

5. Career/employment/productive pursuits. What do you value in your work? What would make it more meaningful? What kind of worker would you like to be? If you were living up to your own ideal standards, what personal qualities would you like to bring to your work? What sort of work relations would you like to build?

6. Education/personal growth and development. What do you value about learning, education, training, or personal growth? What new skills would you like to learn? What knowledge would you like to gain? What further education appeals to you? What sort of student would you like to be? What personal qualities would you like to apply?

7. Recreation/fun/leisure. What sorts of activities would you like to do? What sorts of hobbies, sports, or leisure activities do you enjoy? How do you relax and unwind? How do you have fun?

8. Spirituality. Whatever spirituality means to you is fine. What is important t to you in this area of life? It may be as simple as communing with nature, or as formal as participation in an organized religious group.

9. Citizenship/ environment/ community life. How would you like to contribute to your community or environment, e.g. through volunteering, or recycling, or supporting a group/ charity/ political party? What sort of environments would you like to create at home, and at work? What environments would you like to spend more time in?

10. Health/physical well-being. What are your values related to maintaining your physical well-being? How do you want to look after your health, with regard to sleep, diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol, etc? Why is this important?

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