Advertising
Advertising

Knowing My Values Has Filled up the Long-Existed Missing Gap in My Life

Knowing My Values Has Filled up the Long-Existed Missing Gap in My Life

Your values make you who you are, yet many people don’t fully know how to even define or explain their values. Your values dictate how you act, respond to situations, and where you place your time and energy in life.

For example, someone who places high value on career success will be driven to work more hours, spend greater time toward making advances at work, perhaps at the sacrifice of time with family and friends. A person who places a high value on family may chose to forgo a better job placement or position because it will impede on evenings and weekend time with their family. What you value dictates the course of your day to day life, but also your future.

Do you know what you truly value in your life and the world around you? If you don’t, you may be a person who is unhappy in life or feeling dissatisfied with your current life status, yet you can’t put your finger on why you are feeling this way.

Everyone should know their values, because research shows that there are specific values that can make you happier and satisfied with life in the long term. Conversely there are values, that although they may seem good, will ultimately lead to life dissatisfaction.

Below I will explain how to identify which of these values are beneficial for long term life satisfaction and which are not.

What You Value Determines Your Life

In my 20’s, I was very driven to get my education completed and also attain wealth/a comfortable lifestyle. I had once been a person of devout faith and thus it was formerly a core value in my life. Life circumstances and a series of unfortunate events changed my values and I instead focused my time, energy, and life purposes on getting my doctorate and attaining wealth. I ended up marrying into the wealth and did complete my doctorate. I lived a life of comfort, that I thought I wanted. I also experienced great successes in my educational pursuits including post doctorate studies at Harvard; yet I was still feeling unsatisfied. I knew that there was something missing in my life. My value in my faith had been put to the wayside.

Advertising

After a divorce at age 30, I reassessed my values. I decided wealth was no longer high on the list of my personal values. I also determined that faith/religion and family were going to be my top priorities. My life changed for the positive and I have experienced life satisfaction beyond measure. I no longer live in a 10,000 square foot home on the beach, but it doesn’t matter to me because I have faith and family.

My life satisfaction is now much higher than those years in my 20’s. In my 20’s, it appeared outwardly to the world that I had it all, yet I was feeling a gaping hole of something missing in my life. What I didn’t realize when I made that personal decision to make such dramatic life changes at the age of 30 was that research supported my decision to find greater meaning through faith and family and not career success and wealth. It took me 10 years to figure this out.

A Fulfilling Life Comes from What’s Within You

Some people struggle their entire life with finding life satisfaction and meaning and it all comes down to choosing values that create meaning in life. Do your core values support long term life satisfaction and meaning in life or are they wrapped up in temporary happiness and material things?

Research in Scientific America examined a plethora of studies on the subject of happiness, life satisfaction, and values to assess what makes people happy in life.[1] Their findings found that people who had meaningful interpersonal relationships reported higher life satisfaction. They also reported that increased wealth has not made people happier in the long term.

Faith/religion also play a very important role in life satisfaction, as the following was stated in this article regarding research on the topic of faith and religion:

One Gallup survey found that highly religious people were twice as likely as those lowest in spiritual commitment to declare themselves very happy. Other surveys including a 16-nation collaborative study of 166,000 people in 14 nations, have found that reported happiness and life satisfaction rise with strength of religious affiliation and frequency of attendance at worship services.

Placing value in your faith, religious practices, and worship service attendance therefore is highly likely to increase your satisfaction in life. 

I personally know that my faith is what has given me the greatest satisfaction in life and my family comes in a close second. Research supports this emphasis on interpersonal relationships and faith as a way to increase satisfaction in life. The pursuit of increased wealth or income did not increase life satisfaction long term, according to these research studies. My personal life is a testament of this, and research also supports these views on values.

The Benefit of Defining Your Values

In my 20’s, I hadn’t formally defined my values. I allowed them to be shaped according to my life experiences, rather than consciously making a decision to define my values. Therefore, I didn’t really have an understanding of why I was making the decisions that I was making. I was basing my decisions on thoughts and feelings as my driving force, rather than having an understanding of the need for core values to be defined in my life.

Research in Psychological Sciences showed that people who had defined their cored values experiences lower stress levels:[2]

These findings suggest that reflecting on personal values can keep neuroendocrine and psychological responses to stress at low levels.

Knowing your values helps you increase life satisfaction and decrease life stress. Had I defined my values I may have chosen a different path. I would have experienced lower stress during that period of life in my 20’s, if I had clearly defined values.

Advertising

How to Know Your Values

Examine the list below and see if any of the values stand out to you as most important. Then follow the set of instructions below to help you narrow down your values to determine what is truly important to you in life.

  • Accountability
  • Achievement
  • Adventure
  • Ambition
  • Balance
  • Beauty
  • Belonging
  • Boldness
  • Calmness
  • Career Success
  • Compassion
  • Community Involvement
  • Competency
  • Contribution
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Determination
  • Education
  • Elegance
  • Empathy
  • Excellence
  • Excitement
  • Expertise
  • Fairness
  • Faith
  • Fame
  • Family-oriented
  • Friendship
  • Fun
  • Giving back to others
  • Goodness
  • Grit
  • Growth
  • Happiness
  • Health
  • Honesty
  • Honor
  • Humor
  • Influence
  • Intelligence
  • Joy
  • Justice
  • Kindness
  • Knowledge
  • Leadership
  • Learning
  • Legacy
  • Love
  • Loyalty
  • Manners
  • Mastery
  • Meaningful Work
  • Openness
  • Optimism
  • Order
  • Patriotism
  • Peace
  • Pleasure
  • Poise
  • Popularity
  • Recognition
  • Religion
  • Reputation
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Security
  • Self-Respect
  • Sensitivity
  • Service
  • Simplicity
  • Spirituality
  • Stability
  • Status
  • Success
  • Stability
  • Status
  • Strength
  • Structure
  • Teamwork
  • Tolerance
  • Thankfulness
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Tradition
  • Trustworthiness
  • Uniqueness
  • Vision
  • Wealth
  • Wisdom

As you follow the instructions below, feel free to add your own values that may not be on the above list, as it is not comprehensive. The list of values could be endless, but these were simply some of the most common.

  1. As you look over the list, write down 5-10 values that you believe helped you during a difficult time in life.
  2. Next, look over the list again and write down another 5-10 values that you believe have helped you in your most successful times in life.
  3. Finally, of the 10-20 values that you wrote down, look them over and think of a time in your life when you felt most satisfied. Now circle the top 5 values that you believe helped you during that period of your life when you felt most satisfied.

Don’t discount the other values you wrote down, as they are still top values to you. It is helpful to recognize the top five though, as these will significantly shape your decision making and the course of your life.

Aligning Life with Your Core

Now that you recognize what you value most in this world, it is time to test out these values. Here is a practical way to begin aligning your life with the top five values you outlined: write down five sentences for each value that begins as follows.

I value (Fill in the blank), so I will (fill in the blank with something that aligns with that value).

Try to think of 3-5 statements for each of your top five values. Write these statements clearly and with intention of acting on them. Post your statements in a place this is clearly visible for you to see each day, such as a the front of your refrigerator or your bathroom mirror.

Advertising

Here is an example of three statements for the value of faith:

  • I value faith, so I will attend weekly worship services.
  • I value faith, so I will commit to reading a daily religious devotional.
  • I value faith, so I will pray often every day.

Proof Is in Your Actions

The way to show your values matter is by acting on them. If you don’t take action on your values, they are of no worth or benefit to you.

If you value honesty, yet you have a habit of being dishonest in business practices, then you need to assess your actions. Take an honest look at yourself and what you value. Are you practicing those values or do you simply admire that value and wish you put it into practice? Set yourself up for success in your values by finding ways to practice your values in everyday life. For example, if you value your health, then you should have exercising and eating right as priorities in your everyday life.

Values are only effective and useful if you put them into practice daily. Living a satisfied life has a great deal to do with the values you hold in your mind and heart along with how well you put those values into practice consistently.

Reference

More by this author

Dr. Magdalena Battles

A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault

Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting a Marriage Counselor How To Stop Insecure Attachment from Wreaking Havoc on Your Love Life 7 Reasons Why You Should Find a Life Coach to Reach Your Full Potential 15 Ways to Practice Positive Self-Talk for Success How to Cope with Empty Nest Syndrome and Stop Feeling Lonely

Trending in Psychology

1 Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering 2 How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind 3 How to Handle Rejection and Overcome the Fear of Being Rejected 4 8 Powerful Reasons to Love Your Enemies 5 20 Things Only Parents Of Children With Dyslexia Would Understand

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 6, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

Advertising

Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

Advertising

No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

Advertising

This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

Advertising

You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1]University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2]Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

Read Next