Knowing your values means you know who you are, when you know who you are you know what brings you happiness (and what doesn’t).
Your values are your own moral compass, and without definition of them, you could find yourself in a job, relationship, friendship or home that doesn’t float your boat. And you’ll be left asking, “Why am I unhappy?”
To know why you are unhappy, you must know what makes you happy.
In the film The Matrix, the sign above the kitchen door of the character known as the Oracle says “Nosce temet,” which is a translation of gnōthi sauton, Greek for “Know thyself,” from the temple of Apollo at Delphi.
In other words, you must know thyself before receiving counsel is safe — as demonstrated in The Matrix, where the main character Neo must know himself before he’ll ever understand his destiny.
Or, as Socrates might put it, “The unexamined life is not worth the living.”
The famous saying, “Know thyself,” is termed perhaps the most important thing to aspire to in life. Translated back to its Greek origin, it actually contains the word, “Ouch!”
Ouch happens when ignorance is no longer bliss, but the closer we get to knowing ourselves the less the ouch becomes and the more our happiness shines through.
So what are values anyway?
Well they aren’t your beliefs. Beliefs are learned, usually from others or our own experiences, beliefs are self-fulfilling prophecies, but you also have the power to change them.
Values are internal. They are who you are deep down.
They are your sign posts to happiness (or unhappiness if ignored). They are your best friends when it comes to keeping your head, heart and life clear and easy (the more you get to know them that is).
Below are three ways to get to know your values, because it’s really important you are living your own life and not someone else’s.
1. Find your values
Ask yourself the following questions, and jot down your answers.
- What makes you feel excited?
- What makes you feel happy?
- What makes you feel sad?
- What makes you feel let down?
- What makes you feel confused?
- What makes you feel special?
- What makes you feel respected?
- What makes you feel angry?
- What makes you feel hurt?
- What makes you feel loved?
- What makes you feel supported?
- What makes you feel restricted?
- What makes you feel insignificant?
- What makes you feel embarrassed?
- What makes you feel peaceful?
- What makes you feel anxious?
- What makes you feel shocked?
- What makes you feel amazed?
2. Analyze your answers
Take a look at what you have written as your answers. So for instance if you have written that you feel let down when people don’t keep to their word then your value might be reliability, trust or honesty, so just jot down which one feels right to you. Do this for all 15.
Practice 2–8 value areas to think about. Then, score them 1–10 on happiness scale (7 or under needs attention)
- Me time
- Personal development
Think of two or three goals for each of the above and work on them!
3. Food for thought questions
Ask yourself some big questions to pinpoint what truly matters to you:
- What do you want more of in your life?
- What do you want less of?
- What do you want to be best known for?
- What would you really like to happen?
Maybe the effort to know oneself is self-indulgent or narcissistic. Or maybe not.
It is one of the great paradox’s of life that we cannot get to know ourselves without the mirror of others. So, for instance, in Plato, by gazing into the eyes of your lover, you gaze into a window of the self, therefore:
Take time to look at the values of those close to you too, so you don’t struggle against unknown assumptions within your relationships.
Once you and those important to you understand what’s important to each other the understanding and respect grows, so think about doing these 3 exercises with those important to you.