Define your core values

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)

Accountability

Accuracy

Achievement

Adventurousness

Altruism

Ambition

Assertiveness

Balance

Being the best

Belonging

Boldness

Calmness

Carefulness

Challenge

Cheerfulness

Clear-mindedness

Commitment

Community

Compassion

Competitiveness

Consistency

Contentment

Continuous Improvement

Contribution

Control

Cooperation

Correctness

Courtesy

Creativity

Curiosity

Decisiveness

Democraticness

Dependability

Determination

Devoutness

Diligence

Discipline

Discretion

Diversity

Dynamism

Economy

Effectiveness

Efficiency

Elegance

Empathy

Enjoyment

Enthusiasm

Equality

Excellence

Excitement

Expertise

Exploration

Expressiveness

Fairness

Faith

Family-orientedness

Fidelity

Fitness

Fluency

Focus

Freedom

Fun

Generosity

Goodness

Grace

Growth

Happiness

Hard Work

Health

Helping Society

Holiness

Honesty

Honor

Humility

Independence

Ingenuity

Inner Harmony

Inquisitiveness

Insightfulness

Intelligence

Intellectual Status

Intuition

Joy

Justice

Leadership

Legacy

Love

Loyalty

Making a difference

Mastery

Merit

Obedience

Openness

Order

Originality

Patriotism

Perfection

Piety

Positivity

Practicality

Preparedness

Professionalism

Prudence

Quality-orientation

Reliability

Resourcefulness

Restraint

Results-oriented

Rigor

Security

Self-actualization

Self-control

Selflessness

Self-reliance

Sensitivity

Serenity

Service

Shrewdness

Simplicity

Soundness

Speed

Spontaneity

Stability

Strategic

Strength

Structure

Success

Support

Teamwork

Temperance

Thankfulness

Thoroughness

Thoughtfulness

Timeliness

Tolerance

Traditionalism

Trustworthiness

Truth-seeking

Understanding

Uniqueness

Unity

Usefulness

Vision

Vitality

 

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)

 

  1. “What are Your Values? Deciding What’s Most Important in Life.” MindTools, 2016. https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_85.htm .
  2. 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
  3. James Clear. “One Research-Backed Way to Effectively Manage Your Stressful and Busy Schedule.” Accessed Sept. 20, 2016. http://jamesclear.com/personal-values-journal
  4. 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/
Kara Chine

About Kara Chine

Kara Tabor Chine lives in Encinitas, California with her husband and two teenage children. She is a native Texan, but graduated from San Diego State with a degree in Communication and Journalism. After getting her teaching credential at Point Loma Nazarene, she taught high school literature for 6 years, followed by a decade of designing video and web-based teacher training. Kara has also taught English abroad off and on for 10 years, to both children and professionals, in Italy and Switzerland. Her passions include travelling back roads of Italy, beach volleyball, hilarious dark comedy, wine drinking on the beach with the hubs, and laughing with her wacky creative kids.

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