You and I are builders, adding one day to another to create a life. When we live according to our deepest values, we build a quality life. If we don’t know what our values are, or if we ignore them, we risk building less than we are capable of, to our own detriment.TheExceleratedLife.com
A Surprise Gift
A carpenter worked many years for a building contractor. (1) He was getting old and decided it was time to retire. He went to his employer and told him his plans to leave work.
The builder said, “Before you retire, I’d like you to build one last house for me.”
The carpenter’s heart wasn’t in it, but he said he would build one last house.
However, because he was in a hurry to finish, he didn’t approach the job with the craftsmanship he had shown over the years. He rushed through tasks, doing shoddy work, cutting corners, and using substandard materials when that was faster. It was not a great way to end a career as the careful craftsman he had always been.
When he finished the house, his employer came to inspect the work. Handing the carpenter a set of keys, he said, “This is your house – a gift for all the good work you did for me over the years.”
Building A Life
You and I are the builders of our lives, adding one day to another to create a life. When we live according to our deepest values, we build a quality life. If we don’t know what our values are or we ignore them, we risk duplicating the behavior of the carpenter, building less than we are capable of, to our own detriment.
A Values Definition
Values are principles or qualities that we deem as worthy and desirable. They represent behaviors and activities that bring us joy, contentment, and feelings of well-being when we engage in them. As children, we adopted the values of our parents, teachers, and other adults. We may still live according to some of those values, but we have likely acquired other values as well.
You could think of values as a pair of glasses through which you view your life and world. Or your values could be a compass that points you in the right direction on your journey . . . if you remember to look at it.
As Viktor Frankl said, it is not we who should ask what is the meaning of life? Life asks the question and we answer by how we live. Men and women, said Frankl, are beings “whose main concern consists in fulfilling a meaning and in actualizing values”, and not in “mere gratification and satisfaction of drives and instincts.” [Frankl] When you strengthen your values, you are living authentically in congruence with what matters most to you. You are bringing meaning to your life.
Living Your Values
When it comes to living from our values, you and I find ourselves in one of these categories: [Tilford]
- We don’t know what our values are. In this case, life lacks meaning and fulfillment. We feel aimless, like a balloon floating on the wind.
- We know what we value, but our life does not currently reflect that. This can lead to feelings of incongruence as we see a gap between where we are and where we want to be.
- We think we know what our values are, but in reality, we are living according to values we have picked up from parents, other authority figures, or our society. So, we try to live the way we think we should live, not in ways that reflect the values that are truly important to us.
- We know what we value and we live to the best of our capabilities in ways that honor our values.
The more you live from your true values, the greater meaning your life has for you, and the more successful you are. As you strengthen your values, you feel you are being true to yourself and genuine with others.
The Value In Living Your Values
Meg Selig, author, teacher, and blogger has identified nine “superpowers”, gleaned from various research studies, of living from your core values. Here are some of the things that give value to your values. [Selig]
- In a study from UCLA, researchers found that thinking about your personal values before you enter a stressful situation lowers cortisol, a stress hormone, and helps you experience less stress.
- In another research study, scientists discovered that focusing on your values improves your problem-solving and decision-making capabilities. It can be especially helpful to consider your values when making a difficult decision, such as when contemplating a career move.
- Various studies show the link between values and increased willpower to improve health and strengthen other beneficial habits.
- Knowing your values can help you be more assertive. As Meg Selig says, “It’s easier to be assertive when you are aware of what you stand for.”
- At the same time, reminding yourself of values like “compassion” and “respect” enables you to communicate with compassion and empathy, even as you are standing up for yourself. At the same time, researchers tell us, reflecting on your values can bring inner calm and awareness that allows you to listen more carefully to what the other person is saying and what they are feeling.
These are some of the benefits you may experience when you strengthen your values.
The Valid Values Excelerator
When your life is in congruence with your “valid values” — the principles you deem as important and desirable — you feel in harmony and balanced. If you are feeling out of touch or disconnected, you may not be living out of your values. It’s a good idea to check in from time to time to see that you are being true to your values, whatever they may be.
The Valid Values Excelerator is a tool that can help you identify your core or Valid Values and think through ways to bring them into your life day by day. You can get a copy of the Valid Values Excelerator here.
If you already know your Valid Values but want some suggestions for living them more fully, check out the Valid Values JumpStart. The JumpStart provides quick actions you can take right now to jump-start your Excelerated Life and to begin defining and living your Valid Values.
Honor Your Excelerated Values™
In looking at your life, which of the 4 examples best describes you?
Do you know what your values are? If not, work with the Valid Values Excelerator
to identify your core values.
Do you know what your values are but your life doesn’t reflect them? Use the Valid Values JumpStart to discover ways to begin living your core values.
Are you stuck living out someone else’s or society’s values, living the way you think you should live but not necessarily how you want to live? Use one or both of the Excelerated Values tools to clarify and actualize your own core values.
Are you living your own true Valid Values to the best of your ability? Kudos to you. That’s the way we ought to live.
Don’t be like the poor carpenter and realize too late that you have not created the extraordinary life you are meant to create. Begin today to articulate and live from your Valid Values. That is the path to a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service. And that is embracing the Excelerated Life™!
Excelerated Values™ – defining and living your Valid Values – is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service.
Read more about the Excelerated Life™.
(1) I have read this story on a number of occasions from different sources. I can’t site a specific one.
Frankl, Viktor E. Man’s Search For Meaning Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1959.
Selig, Meg. “9 Surprising Superpowers of Knowing Your Core Values.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, November 27, 2018. Web. November 14, 2020.
Tilford, Catherine. “Knowing Your Values: Why It’s Important.” Embrace Strength Counseling. Embrace Strength Counseling, Inc., June 29, 2012. Web. November 14, 2020.