Living life in harmony with a value system creates a strong foundation for a meaningful life. Fostering your own personal values gives you a guideline you can refer to in all situations. Think of your values as priorities—a code of ethics to live by. Values can drive behaviour and provide structure and purpose in conducting your life.
Every person, society, or company has a value system, whether aware of it or not. When you’re conscious of your principles, you can more easily express who you are and what you stand for,so communication and relationships improve. In addition, after you consider your standards, decision-making becomes much simpler.
There is a value system for every area of life. Ideals assist us in choosing a life partner, career, friends, and overall lifestyle. Referring to them helps narrow and fine tune short-term and long-term goals by reminding you where to focus.
Identifying your personal values helps to live a meaningful and satisfying life. Ideals will help answer questions like “Should I take that job?” or “Is that person right for me?” Thinking about times when you were the happiest, fulfilled, or proudest will help you determine your values.
Prior to writing down your values, consider asking:
- Do these values make me feel good about myself, even if they’re unpopular?
- Am I okay sharing my values with people I respect?
- Do my actions currently support my values, or are they in conflict?
The categories of a value system encompass relationships, career, family, social, spiritual, leisure, educational, and many other areas. There are literally hundreds of values you can live by.
Values may change over time, but they will always affect multiple areas of your life. Values further guide us through tricky and difficult circumstances. When you’re aware of your values, it makes difficult choices clearer.
While you can sprint through life never giving a second thought to your values, you may feel a sense of something lacking. Living a life out of line with your personal values can feel wrong and become a major source of unhappiness. It’s worthwhile to examine what is meaningful and significant to you, in addition to the people you care about.
Epictetus was a Greek stoic philosopher whose writings on living a meaningful life still apply today. An excellent guideline is an interpretive book of his writings by Sharon Lebell. The Art of Living—The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness may sound quaint and archaic, but Epictetus’s words remain relevant.