There are eight billion people on the planet, and somehow, each of us is different from one another.
Have you ever observed this?
You will probably never find two people who are exact copies of each other.
Why do you think that is?
What is it about us that creates unique identities and selves and separates us from the rest?
Well, there isn’t a single thing.
A whole host of factors come together to create unique individuals who experience life in unique ways.
Out of all those factors, perhaps the most important one is a person’s values.
These values act as the building blocks of a person’s thought patterns, behavioral patterns, personality, attitude, and so much more.
You could say that values are a person’s skeletal system, on top of which, everything else is based.
And it is not just individuals who have values.
Even organizations make sure that they are driven by meticulously planned values.
With that in mind, let’s take a deeper dive into what they are and why they are so important.
- What Are Values?
- The 10 Different Types of Values
- How Values Are Formed
- Figuring Out Your Values
- The Benefits of Identifying Your Values
In simple words, we can say that values are the core beliefs you have as a person.
These are the principles that are inherent to you or the standards against which you judge your behavior.
As such, values are the driving force that is with you every moment, guiding your minutest of actions and decisions.
For example, if kindness is one of your core values, you will be polite to everyone you meet. It doesn’t matter whether you come across a loved one or a stranger… you will be compassionate in your approach.
Another way to look at values is by seeing them as things that you hold in high regard.
If honesty is one of your values, you will hold this trait highly and will expect everyone around you to speak and act honestly.
So, this value becomes one of the benchmarks against which you measure other people. It also becomes something that characterizes you and motivates you in every decision you make.
And since different people have different values, they also serve as the basis of differences between two people.
One person might hold honesty above material benefit, while another person might hold relationships more important than their dignity.
So, when you meet different people, you are essentially meeting different sets of values!
The 10 Different Types of Values
There are countless values you can have.
That’s because there are hundreds of character traits to choose from and adopt as a part of your personality.
At the end of the day, they are things that motivate you and are important to you. And these can be any number of things in the world!
However, we can still categorize some of the most common and prominent values people have.
These categories will better help you understand the concept of values and also provide you with options to choose from in case you want to adopt new values in your life.
These are the values that are inherent to a person and are exhibited in their behavior.
These are important not because of what they can bring to you but simply for what they are.
Things like humility, beauty, happiness, artistic expression, selflessness, compassion, honesty, kindness, etc. are all examples of personal values.
These are the values that define how you interact or relate to other people in your life.
These people can be your loved ones, colleagues, acquaintances, or complete strangers.
As you can probably tell, these values include trust, empathy, generosity, loyalty, intimacy, friendship, communication, etc.
We are all social animals.
And as such, it is important to have societal values.
These dictate how you relate to society at large.
Some examples are accountability, social justice, cooperation, care, worry for others, environmental awareness, fairness, individual rights, respect for differences, social responsibility, charity, etc.
These values relate to a company or organization.
As mentioned above, most organizations are careful in crafting the right values to guide the behavior of their employees and executives.
After all, their values become a huge part of their identities, which directly affects their success.
Some examples are innovation, passion, productivity, professionalism, teamwork, leadership, volunteerism, etc.
As the name suggests, these are values that go beyond cultures, religions, national identities, and other points of difference.
These are values that all human beings are expected to have.
These include peace, dignity, love, mutual respect, cooperation, good behavior, value for human life, environmental consciousness, and so on.
This is another important set of values for billions of people in the world.
After all, religion plays a critical role in defining the identities, rituals, and general ways that people conduct their lives.
Religious values also relate to a person’s connection with a higher force. Some examples are faith, devotion, piety, charity, ritualistic expression, etc.
Not everybody walks the religious path.
Some take a different approach to integrating divinity into their lives.
For such spiritual people, there are values that allow them to follow a righteous path and seek the ultimate truth.
These values include things like compassion, seeking, presence, non-violence, etc.
As the name suggests, these values have to do with a person’s country or place of residence.
These include values like patriotism, brotherhood, pride, national unity, democracy, and so on.
These are very important values for any person.
After all, life often transcends the ordinary and ventures into the realm of beauty and the abstract. As humans, we all appreciate things that evoke higher emotions within us.
And since mother nature and human ingenuity have created such spectacular forms of beauty, these aesthetic values help us enjoy them to the fullest. These values include things like art, music, dance, elegance, purity, grace, grandiosity, etc.
Finally, we come to the scientific values.
As human beings, we are not only born with a natural longing to know things, but we are also blessed with the mental capabilities to understand things, people, situations, and phenomena that exist around us.
As such, scientific values include knowledge, objectivity, meticulousness, curiosity, etc.
Now that you have understood what values are and their various types, it’s time to take a look at how they are formed.
It is only after you understand this can you consciously get rid of values that are no longer serving you and adopt newer ones that are more in line with what you want out of life.
Values start forming at an early age.
Some of your values might even have a genetic origin.
For example, if honesty is a very important trait for your father, you might inherit the same trait as well! In addition to this, the way you are raised, the people you meet, the experiences you have growing up, the type of media you consume, the education system you are exposed to and many other factors play a role in defining your values.
Here is an exhaustive list of places your values might originate from:
- Family: This includes your parents, grandparents, siblings, extended relatives, spouse, etc.
- Peers: This includes your friends, roommates, acquaintances, colleagues, etc.
- Society: This includes people from your community and neighbors.
- Authority figures: This includes your teachers, priests, employers, mentors, godparents, etc.
- Media: This includes celebrities, influencers, news channels, movies, tv shows, books, literature, etc.
If you want to take a conscious approach to crafting your values, it is important to figure out what your current values are.
Sometimes, you develop certain values on a subconscious level and that shows up in your behavior and attitude.
But since you are not aware of them, they can lead to all sorts of issues.
So, it’s important to introspect a little and figure out your core values.
Here are some questions that might help in that regard.
1) What excites you? Think about why you get up in the morning. What do you hope to spend all your time doing? What do you think is or should be your purpose in life?
2) Whom do you admire? Often, it is the type of people we spend the most time with or the people we admire the most that tell us who we really are.
3) How do you behave with the people in your life? Think about your general behavior towards your loved ones. How do you act when you’re talking to a stranger? How do you behave when a colleague asks for your help?
4) Why did you choose your career? Your choice of career may not always be what you wanted in your heart. But it can certainly tell you a few important things about yourself.
5) Why did you choose your romantic partner/spouse? Your choice of romantic partner also tells a lot about who you are as a person. Not only is it possible that you share traits, but your choice reflects the types of values you want to be surrounded by.
6) What would you do if time and money were not a factor? The answer to this question will reveal to you your wildest dreams and desires. It will tell you who you are at the center of your being. It might be something that you have buried deep within you, so don’t be surprised!
7) How did you face your last big adversity? This will tell you about your strengths and general attitude towards adversities in life. It might also reveal important lessons that can lead to better values.
Let’s focus on the importance of values.
There is no doubt that identifying your values is very important. It is as clear as day.
However, if you need more inspiration to do so, here are some of the most prominent benefits.
Your values are like your user’s manual.
They tell you how to handle people, things, and situations.
When you are clear about your values, there is no doubt in your mind about how to make decisions.
Let’s say one of your friends lied to you about something very important. Now, if honesty happens to be a core value for you, you will have a general idea about what to do next. You could cut them off from your life or limit how much time you spend with them. You can also decide to not trust them much (or at all).
Your values also save you from acting impulsively.
As someone who is driven by your values, you could choose to process a situation more thoroughly instead of reacting haphazardly.
You could sit down and think about whether something is in line with your principles or not. And then, you can make the most practical choice you can come up with. This can even apply to when you’re choosing your career, partner, friend, diet plan, and even a tv show!
This one is quite straightforward.
Your values can dictate your passion and purpose in life.
They can nudge you in the right direction and show you a glimpse of the future you would like to build for yourself.
For example, if you happen to have a lot of spiritual values, you might choose to live a more sustainable life and focus on your spiritual growth through meditation and yoga. You could decide to not focus much on materialistic pleasures and instead focus on meaningful life experiences. You might also choose to help as many people as you can in your life. You can even consider this your purpose and take steps to live accordingly.
Your values make up a huge part of who you are as a person.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, values act as the building blocks of a person’s thought patterns, behavioral patterns, personality, attitude, and so much more.
In a lot of ways, your values are what make you, you.
So, when you have identified what your values are, you have basically identified who you are.
The importance of this clarity cannot be stressed enough.
It can make everything you do more decisive and purposeful. It can improve all the different aspects of your life, even extending to areas like health and finances.
Also, since you are sure of who you are and what your path entails, you will not follow other people blindly. You will have more faith and hope in your dreams and desires.
This benefit is kind of an extension of the previous one.
When you know who you are, it gives rise to self-confidence.
You are better aware of the things you are good at. And you certainly have faith that you can utilize your unique abilities to achieve things that matter to you.
Think of situations like a job interview or going on a date. These are situations where it is paramount to be confident. And that can only happen when you know yourself thoroughly. This allows you to express yourself and your wants clearly. It also gives an impression that you have your life in order. Who wouldn’t want such a person to be around them?
Everyone likes a person who lives life with a set of principles and doesn’t falter from them.
Such people are often seen as being more trustworthy, dependable, successful, credible, and just. Everyone wants to approach and invest in people like these, be it a potential romantic partner, a friend, or a business client.
So, when you identify your values and live by them every day of your life, you will automatically attract good people wherever you go. You will enjoy respect and praise from others and your relationships will become stronger.
At home, your children will look up to you and your spouse will trust you wholeheartedly.
At work, your colleague will want to work with you and your boss will see you as an asset to the organization.
This is basically the culmination of all the benefits mentioned above.
When you know who you are, your relationships are strong, you are confident in your abilities, you know what your passions are, and your decision-making skills are on point, happiness and success are natural byproducts.
Also, since your values tell you about what’s important in your life, you do not waste your time and energy on things that don’t matter.
And when you do that, you live a contented life, knowing that you are doing what you are supposed to do and living life in line with your core principles.
There is a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that you are staying true to yourself.