Here’s what you do:
Peruse the list of qualities below and identify 5-10 that you find very important in a person. Then using that subset, and possibly other values not listed here, write down a list of 5 top priority values you strive to live by. Post that list somewhere where you will be able to see it throughout the day. (1)
Being the best
Making a difference
Your core values play a huge part in how you decide to spend your time, interact with others and live your life. Although their importance is paramount, when was the last time you stepped back, articulated your values, and questioned yourself about how you are doing living by them? The simple act of articulating what is important to you can do wonders to help straighten out the confusing situations life presents. Successfully acting within the umbrella of our values and beliefs is an essential element of personal satisfaction and happiness. (2)
Okay, you say sure, this matters for a healthy spirit, but does living by your values affect your health? You bet it does. One of the first studies to demonstrate this was conducted at Stanford University. A group of college students headed home for winter break. While they were gone, they were given the task of keeping a daily journal. In this journal, some of the students were asked to write about their most important personal values and then describe how the events of each day connected with those values. Another group of students was simply asked to describe the positive events that happened throughout their day. When the students returned to school after the break, the researchers discovered that those students who wrote about their personal values were healthier, experienced fewer illnesses, and had better energy and attitude than the students who merely wrote about the positive events in their lives. These kinds of results have been replicated in many following studies.
In fact, Stanford professor Kelly McGonigal filled a book, The Upside of Stress, with such research. She summarizes the effects by saying, “It turns out that writing about your values is one of the most effective psychological interventions ever studied. In the short term, writing about personal values makes people feel more powerful, in control, proud, and strong. It also makes them feel more loving, connected, and empathetic toward others. It increases pain tolerance, enhances self-control, and reduces unhelpful rumination after a stressful experience.”
“In the long term, writing about values has been shown to boost GPAs, reduce doctor visits, improve mental health, and help with everything from weight loss to quitting smoking and reducing drinking. It helps people persevere in the face of discrimination and reduces self-handicapping. In many cases, these benefits are a result of a one-time mindset intervention. People who write about their values once, for ten minutes, show benefits months or even years later.”(3)
“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” ― Roy Disney (4)
- “What are Your Values? Deciding What’s Most Important in Life.” MindTools, 2016. https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_85.htm .
- Anne Loehr. “How to Live With Purpose, Identify Your Values and Improve Your Leadership.” May 6 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-loehr/how-to-live-with-purpose-_b_5187572.html
- James Clear. “One Research-Backed Way to Effectively Manage Your Stressful and Busy Schedule.” Accessed Sept. 20, 2016. http://jamesclear.com/personal-values-journal
- Deborah Smouse. “Determine What Will Make You Happy by Identifying Your Values.” 2013. Accessed Sept. 20, 2016. http://tinybuddha.com/blog/determine-what-will-make-you-happy-by-identifying-your-values/