In a world that is constantly evolving and taking new forms, it can be somewhat overwhelming trying to make sense of this thing called life. One of the things that rarely changes in this world and what can provide a guiding light for you throughout your life are your core values.
Having core values will provide you with a sense of stability, direction, and peace of mind.
This concept is simple in theory, and it is quite easy to throw around words such as “values,” “honesty,” “compassion,” “trust,” and so on. However, actualizing these core values in your life is an entirely different thing. It takes practice and dedication.
If we take these values and put them through the filters of our own experience, we then understand what our true core values are.
Here’s a list of 31 core values to adopt and use when all else seems to be changing.
Table of Contents
- What Are Core Values?
- Why Are Core Values Important?
- 31 Best Core Values to Live By
- 1. Acceptance
- 2. Adaptability
- 3. Awareness
- 4. Balance
- 5. Calmness
- 6. Community
- 7. Compassion
- 8. Creativity
- 9. Discipline
- 10. Empathy
- 11. Freedom
- 12. Gratitude
- 13. Happiness
- 14. Health
- 15. Humility
- 16. Innovation
- 17. Knowledge
- 18. Leadership
- 19. Love
- 20. Moderation
- 21. Peace
- 22. Purpose
- 23. Responsibility
- 24. Service
- 25. Spirituality
- 26. Trust
- 27. Understanding
- 28. Wealth
- 29. Patience
- 30. Integrity
- 31. Curiosity
- Final Thoughts
What Are Core Values?
By now, you’ve probably seen different lists of core values, but you may still be unsure what it really is.
Core values are principles or beliefs that you hold most dear and that are of central importance in your life. It also covers what you believe are important in the way you live and work .
Your core values are a testament to your true self because they are what matters most to you when it comes to your personal and professional life. It is that little voice in your head that tells you whether or not to care about something and how you should prioritize your time.
When everything around you is changing, when the world is difficult to understand, and when you are riding up and down an emotional rollercoaster, your core values will always be there for you.
Some of these values are instilled from childhood. They can be cultural or learned through watching your family and hearing their discussions about things they’re passionate about.
Perhaps now, in adulthood, you realize you’re passionate about those same things. It’s not a bad thing to share core values with those around you, but it can be detrimental to live a life that doesn’t honor those core values once you’ve identified them.
Why Are Core Values Important?
Core values are important because they act like a compass to help you lead the amazing life that you want, no matter where you find yourself in this world.
Not only that, having the right core values can improve your decision-making, your productivity, your achievements and perhaps most importantly, your ability to love and be loved. They’re kind of a big deal. And it isn’t just us saying this, studies have shown core values to have a whole host of other benefits.
Moreover, your values in life impact the decisions you make every day.
When you can identify your values and make choices that align with them, life suddenly becomes a little easier. But when you’re running on autopilot and not allowing your values to coincide with your choices, you can find yourself becoming incredibly unhappy, and maybe you don’t know why.
Discovering your core values don’t help with huge aspects alone; they impact seemingly small things, too.
Think back to that new phone you bought that you didn’t need. You decided that spending money wisely was not as valuable to you during that moment.
Now it’s the end of the month, and bills are due. Perhaps it would be really helpful to have that money back. That disconnect stems from living a life that doesn’t correlate with your core values. If you do follow your values, there is a snowball effect that leads to better choices and prolonged stress-free existence. And the best part is, there’s no hard work needed, just some introspection and self-awareness.
And if simply sitting alone for a few minutes could impact the rest of your life positively, wouldn’t it be worth it? After all, knowing your values helps you make important decisions, like accepting a job, starting a business, or making a big change.
31 Best Core Values to Live By
You might already have a few core values in mind or in your heart, which is great. If you need some other ideas or haven’t thought about your core values until now, here are our 31 favorite core values you can adopt right now.
The ability to accept what you can control and what you can’t control. Understand that on some days, you are the hammer, and on other days you are the nail. With acceptance as a core value, you can build either way and be happy.
Moreover, acceptance can help you love all parts of yourself – flaws and all. Practicing acceptance also helps you become more compassionate towards yourself. 
This healthy state of mind may be hard to practice at first, but it just needs practice. The key is to remember your inner child. When you keep your most vulnerable self in mind, you can be more understanding and gentle, especially if you face something difficult.
Life is going to throw you curve ball after curve ball, and if you aren’t ready for them, you are going to strike out. Your life and the life of those you surround yourself with are far too complex to confine yourself to one mold.
Be adaptable, ready, and willing to change when you need to. Do not be afraid to change depending on the situation life throws at you. When you adapt, you will become ready to take on any challenges.
Awareness is one of the best core values that you can adopt. Period. Awareness is the foundation of a strong character. It helps you understand who you are and what you can offer others.
Awareness means paying attention to yourself, to others, to the world around you, to emotions, and to situations. It means seeing everyone and everything clearly – most importantly yourself.
The question is: how can you cultivate awareness?
The ultimate way you can do this is to try meditation. This doesn’t have to be formal. You can start focusing on simple things like your breath and then move on to how tense your body is. Finally, move on to practice meditation when doing mundane tasks.
There are going to be times when you need to sprint in life, and other times when you are going to need to slow down. The yin and the yang.
Balance is one of the most important core values in many ancient cultures because it reflects nature for what it truly is: perfectly balanced and able to bend, rather than break.
Applying balance in your life is easier than you think. For example, you can start actualizing this tip in your personal and professional life by making sure that you make time for your hobbies and take time to recharge after a long day at work.
As well as being a sublime state of mind, many people forget that calm is a simple decision to make. You can be calm in any situation should you allow yourself to be. No amount of angry drivers, long queues, or frustrating technology can penetrate you when you adopt calmness as a core value.
Being calm takes practice. You can’t simply become a master at being calm when you decide to make it your core value. The secret to being calm is to make a conscious decision to avoid lashing out when things don’t go your way.
Every one of us is a social creature, whether we believe it or not, and community has been a key core value for us as a species for thousands of years.
We are hard-wired to socialize; to eat, drink, gossip, laugh, tell stories, share ideas, give and receive amongst ourselves. Community also enhances the effect of other core values on this list, such as creativity.
No matter how much of an introvert you are, you must make time to form genuine connections with other people. This can give you an opportunity to grow as a person and experience new things. Forging friendships will also enable you to have someone to lean on when times get rough. Most importantly, being part of a community can help you become more empathetic to other people.
Compassion is taking the time to understand the suffering of others and, hopefully, being able to do something about it. There is a lot of struggle and suffering that can be alleviated in the world; with a core value like compassion, you might be able to help your fellow humans in some meaningful way.
Being compassionate is more than just listening to others. It’s about putting aside your judgment and trying your best to put yourself in the shoes of other people who need help. As mentioned in the last point, humans are meant to be social creatures. When you have compassion, you will be able to create stronger connections.
With technology taking most of the administrative jobs, creative people will be leading us into the future.
Someone who cherishes creativity can think up new and big ideas, see things that other people can’t, and see the world around them through their own lens, not somebody else’s.
Creativity has also been provided to lessen depressive symptoms, decrease anxiety, improve immune function, and increase positive emotions.
One of the common mistakes of people is thinking of creativity only in terms of art. However, this shouldn’t be the case. Creativity will allow you to look at problems in a different light and solve them through innovation.
Discipline will lead you to the life you want, should you adopt it as a core value.
“Discipline Equals Freedom” is a term popularised by ex-Navy Seal Jocko Willink, and what it means is that if you can be disciplined in the right things, you will be free in the right things, too.
Discipline to work out means more freedom in your body as you age. Discipline to save means more freedom with your time and money in the long term.
The ultimate purpose of discipline is your acknowledgment that you need to make small and large sacrifices to get what you want. By having this perspective instead of only chasing immediate gratification, you can inspire bigger wins in your life.
There is perhaps no greater value on this list that will connect you deeper to not just the closest people in your life but to strangers, too.
Practicing empathy requires the understanding that other people have a nagging voice in their heads, just like you do. That they have a worldview different from yours based on their experiences. And that’s ok. It’s not easy to adopt empathy as a core value, but it is certainly worth it.
If you are empathetic towards others, you must be willing to put yourself in their shoes. This way, you can see the motivations behind their actions.
Freedom comes in many forms, and that is why it is one of the ultimate core values to have. This includes the freedom to choose, freedom to speak, freedom to live on your terms, and freedom to love and be loved.
If freedom becomes a core value of yours, watch how your life changes for the better. Freedom is not just about doing whatever you want. After all, every person’s meaning of freedom is different. At the end of the day, it just means following what you want.
Gratitude provides a powerful perspective shift whenever you feel yourself getting into a rut.
You can become grateful for the big things like having shelter, food, and great people in your life. You can also become grateful for the small things like the cup of coffee you just drank or the soft sheets on your bed.
Having gratitude will ensure you don’t take anything for granted. When you forget this core value, you will only see the negative things in life, and you’ll be stuck with a negative mindset that will stop you from reaching your full potential. Gratitude is also extremely important because it helps you relish experiences, improve your health, deal with challenges, build relationships, and feel positive emotions.
When you are grateful, it also guides your decision-making and helps you realize how unimportant superficial things like money and status are.
Happiness is a powerful core value and is not just restricted to your own happiness but also to your friends and family.
When happiness guides your decision-making rather than superficial things like money and status, you will find yourself in a much more satisfying position than if you chase other people’s ideas of happiness.
Remember that happiness starts from within. Whatever problems and challenges you face today, you will feel better if you adopt happiness as your core value because it will shift your mindset.
They say that a healthy man has a lot of dreams and wishes, whereas a sick man only has one. Health is the precursor to every other core value on this list; if you don’t have your health, you can’t do much else until you do. Because of this, health has to be a core value in your life.
So how can you do this? First, realize the importance of eating healthy. Explore new ways to cook vegetables and enjoy fruits as a sugar substitute. Fill your fridge with healthy snacks. More than that, try your best to stay active and keep your body moving. Walk to work, try yoga, or stretch every morning.
Humility is the antidote to arrogance and selfishness and is a value to adopt if you want to keep your feet firmly on the ground. It is said that you are never as good or as bad as people say you are.
Humility recognizes this and keeps you moving towards your goal, no matter what anyone else says.
When you practice humility, you are acknowledging that you are not perfect, and you will never achieve perfection – there is nothing wrong with that. Even if you achieve something people praise you for, humility means understanding that if not for the help of other people, you would not be where you are standing today.
The act of innovation involves taking one existing thing and making it better. Although images of whacky car designs and complicated technology can spring to mind when thinking about innovation, it doesn’t have to be that grandiose.
Simply seeing something small and making it better in your own life is enough to make a difference. Use this core value to look at things from a new perspective. For example, if you have a ton of discarded papers at home, you can use them to make paper mache vases that you can give to friends and family.
Knowledge is power. Not power in the 14th-century medieval banker-sense but in the power to change your life. Knowledge about yourself, others, and the world allow you to understand everything that you see a bit better. When you see things for what they are, you can act accordingly and get to where you want to be.
When you adopt knowledge as a core value, it means you are acknowledging that it’s impossible for you to learn everything. Each day will serve as a lesson for you to build your knowledge and become a better person.
It takes guts, determination, confidence, and humility to lead. All of these qualities are both rare and admirable and are the reasons why leadership is such an excellent core value.
When you become a leader, you can not only help yourself excel but other people as well. You will serve as their guide, especially if they need help directing their efforts, resources, and focus into something with more potential. By giving yourself and others purpose, direction, and clarity, you can serve as an inspiration.
The future is dark and unknown but also full of hidden treasures. We need someone to lead us, will it be you?
It can be argued that all of the core values on this list can be tied together by the one, all-encompassing value of love.
When you value love deeply and try to show it in everything you do, you make your world and the world of others a much better place.
By actualizing this core value in your everyday life, you can support the people you love in the best way possible through thick and thin. Love can also do wonders for your personal experiences since it drives you to become more dedicated to the things you deem important. This could be your career, hobbies, kids, and many more.
Whether its dieting, overworking, or even eating your favorite foods, keep in mind that moderation is key.
Not acting in moderation can also have damaging consequences, especially for your health. As much as eating omega-3 foods are good for the body like fish oil and flax seeds, there are side effects that come with overconsumption including high blood sugar and nausea. What works well for all people is everything in moderation.
Have a slice of your favorite cake. Buy yourself the shoes you want. Go on a vacation. Just don’t be too excessive about it. If so, you may end up swallowing more than what you can chew. This can lead to feelings of regret or hate.
Peace is another core value that takes years of practice to perfect. However, its rewards are boundless, with both the journey and destination full of rewards.
Many people think of peace as a situation where there is no conflict of any kind. However, that’s not what peace is all about. Peace is all about having tranquil peace of mind. It’s about staying calm and grounded even if you face adversities.
Peace enables clear decision-making, and freedom in thoughts and actions, as well as providing a deep understanding of the special life that you live.
Purpose can be doubled up with ‘meaning’ as these are two values that provide the drive in any endeavor that you might pursue.
Purpose gets you out of bed every morning, it is why you sacrifice what you sacrifice and often entails something bigger than yourself. If you don’t have a purpose, it is unlikely that you will find much meaning in your life.
If you don’t have a clear purpose, it’s like driving at night without your headlights on. So what’s your purpose? Think hard about it. It could be your family, your partner, or to make a difference in this world.
It is also important to acknowledge that your purpose can change over time. After all, your priorities and view of the world aren’t constant. If you experience this, don’t beat yourself up.
Nobody likes having to take the dog on a walk, having to clean the dishes, or do things that they are reluctantly responsible for. However, responsibility can be an awesome way to add meaning and value to your life.
When other people depend on you and you fulfill your role as provider, not only are they better off, but you get the satisfaction that comes along with it too.
When you meet someone responsible, you don’t just admire him for his accomplishments, you admire him for carving out a purpose for himself and sticking to it, regardless of what others might think or say.
Being responsible means holding yourself accountable for something that impacts the people you love or care about. It also means that you are responsible for your own happiness and fulfillment.
Similar to the responsibility point above, when you adopt service as a core value, you will have very little time to wallow in any self-pity, anxiety, or existential angst because you will be busy making the world a better place.
Funnily enough, by serving others, many people find that they are internally served with feelings of satisfaction and contentment. This could mean volunteering in underprivileged communities or simply helping a friend out.
When you have this core value, remember to use it in coordination with other items in this list, especially love. This will make your service more worthwhile.
Of course, there is the importance of physical health, mental health, and emotional health, but spiritual health is also of value.
Spirituality has nothing to do with religion, it simply means taking the time to listen to your body, to watch your thoughts, to connect with and appreciate the world and the universe that you find yourself in.
When you prioritize spirituality, you will constantly be in search of deeper meaning. This will ensure that all your experiences and connections will never be superficial. It will all have a purpose. One great way to practice spirituality in your life is through meditation.
Trust is a core value on this list because it requires many other difficult skills that help develop you as a person.
To be able to trust and be trusted, you need strong relationships, an ounce of risk, a healthy dose of vulnerability, and humility. All of this creates a recipe for a very positive life with trust at the center.
When you have trust as a core value, you will enjoy a sense of safety that you can rely on others and yourself to do the right thing.
Understanding comes from a place of acceptance of what is, not what should be or could be.
It is the ability to recognize someone else’s viewpoint without trying to change it. It is learning that it is useless to fight against the way the world and other people, and instead learn to dance with them.
Understanding can help you respond better to any situation. This will enable you to look at problems with a perspective to help instead of judge.
However, it’s worth noting that understanding is not the same as empathy. The former means aligning yourself with a set of knowledge, while the latter means aligning yourself with other people’s feelings.
Not in the monetary sense but in the “having everything that you need sense.” Someone who is truly wealthy possesses great relationships, plenty of freedom, a life filled with joy, as well as many of the other values on this list.
Adopt wealth as a core value that will act as a magnet to other incredible things.
Let go of the mindset that wealth is all about money and material things. Instead, take it as a lesson in how to make happiness and abundance a way of life. Learn to see wealth as a way of expression and a method of sharing gifts with the world.
Lost in the chaos and shuffle of our go-go-go, our hyper-achievement-focused society is the value of patience. We want it all, and we want it now.
But life doesn’t always work that way. While you’ll certainly have some quick wins and successes if you stick with it, that’s not the norm.
Let me be clear that patience doesn’t mean just sitting around and waiting for success and happiness to find you. High achievers take massive amounts of action to achieve the successes they desire.
But the joy is in the journey, and patience is a necessary part of crafting a life you love. When you mix patience with calculated action, you set yourself up for great amounts of happiness and success.
Integrity is when you do the right thing, even when you’re not being watched. It’s being consistent and honest in your beliefs and decision-making. Having a strong level of integrity means you have a sense of character, trustworthiness, and honesty. These will build your reputation as a dependable person.
When you are an upstanding person who has strong integrity, you become the type of person people want to associate with. Being able to build these stronger relationships opens you up to finding greater levels of success and happiness in your life.
For life in general, the value of curiosity is something important to creating a life of happiness and success. Curiosity sparks creativity and innovation. It also allows us to discover things about ourselves and life that we otherwise wouldn’t know.
If you want more success and happiness, the value of curiosity is going to play a big part in that journey.
Naturally, we tend to gravitate toward people, friends, groups, and companies that share the same core values. Our core values are not something we only find within ourselves but in others; it’s a boundary we don’t allow others to cross or violate.
It’s important to note that it’s just as important to be on the receiving end of those values. If leadership and knowledge are values you admire, know it’s not always about being a leader but honoring and admiring the leadership traits in others. Now you have a good idea of some of the core values that you can adopt, it’s time to decide which are most important to you and integrate them into your daily lives.
Don't have time for the full article? Read this.
Core values guide your decisions in your most difficult moments. It also covers what you believe are important in the way you live and work.
Having core values will provide you with a sense of stability, direction, and peace of mind.
It’s important to also be a receiver of these core values; if you value knowledge, it’s important to receive knowledge from others.
Discovering your core values don’t help with huge aspects of your life; they impact seemingly small things, too.
Adaptability, awareness, and acceptance are powerful core values when dealing with life’s unexpected changes, whereas creativity, innovation, and leadership offer a compass for making life decisions.
Featured photo credit: AndriyKo Podilnyk via unsplash.com
|||^||Mind Tools: What Are Your Values?|
|||^||Psycnet: Self-affirmation and Self-control: Affirming core values counteracts ego depletion|
|||^||Harvard Health Publishing: Greater Self-acceptance Improves Emotional Well-being|
|||^||Sage Journals: Beyond Individual Creativity: The Superadditive Benefits of Multicultural Experience for Collective Creativity in Culturally Diverse Teams|
|||^||Therapy Group of NYC: Creativity is Your Secret Advantage for Mental Health and Well-Being|
|||^||Harvard Health Publishing: Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier|
|||^||Psychology Today: Moderation is the key to life|
|||^||Healthline: 8 Little-Known Side Effects of Too Much Fish Oil|