The Center for Brain/Mind Medicine > Keys to Healthy Living
What Are Values?
Values are the principles that give our lives meaning and purpose, and allow us to persevere through adversity.
- Values inform how we spend our time and energy—what goals we set.
- We often inherit them from our families of origin, and then add, swap, and/or modify our values based on education and experience as we age.
- We can walk through life not really knowing what our values are. This can be problematic.
- When we live out of sync with what we truly value or what is important to us, we ultimately do not feel good about who we are.
Values are chosen qualities of being and doing, such as being a caring parent, being a dependable friend, being loving, loyal, honest, and courageous. Values can be expressed by using phrases like “teaching compassionately” or “giving gratefully.”
- Values are not goals—goals are finite. They are achievements—and once achieved, you’re done with them.
- Values, on the other hand, are enduring, ongoing guides to living. You cannot achieve a value, you can only manifest it by acting in accordance with it.
Clarify Your Values
Values often change throughout life. They can shift dramatically after a neurologic diagnosis and cognitive changes. Although you may feel connected to your values, it can be helpful to regularly re-evaluate your values to clarify what’s most important.
What’s important to you? What do you care about? What goals do you want to work toward? Though not everyone has the same values, the Valued Living Questionnaire, adapted below, can be a helpful tool.
What sort of brother/sister, son/daughter, uncle/aunt 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?
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?
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”?
What sort of qualities would you like to bring to your friendships? If you could be the best friend possible, how would you behave toward your friends? What sort of friendships would you like to build?
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 bring to your work? What sort of work relations would you like to build?
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 sorts of hobbies, sports, or leisure activities do you enjoy? How do you relax and unwind? How do you have fun? What sorts of activities would you like to do?
Whatever “spirituality” means to you is fine. It may be as simple as communing with nature or as formal as participating in an organized religious group. What is important to you in this area of life?
How would you like to contribute to your community or environment (for example, through volunteering, recycling, or supporting a group/charity/political party)? What sort of environment would you like to create at home? At work? What environments would you like to spend more time in?
What are your values related to your physical well-being? How do you want to take care of yourself with regard to sleep, diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol, etc.? Why is this important?