I saw Wayne Dyer speak years ago and something he shared really stuck with me. Jokingly, he mentioned he had to squeeze every ounce of toothpaste from the tube before throwing it away. It’s not something he thought about, he felt compelled to do it. He said it really frustrated him when he saw a not-so-empty toothpaste tube in the garbage that one of his kids had thrown away. He described how he picked it out of the trash with discontent and continued to use it until the tube was completely flat.
One day though, he said, he had an awakening. He realized that having to get all the toothpaste out of the tube was his thing and his frustration came when he projected it onto his children – expecting them to share the same value as him. It was obvious they didn’t.
This realization gave him choices. He could share his values with his children and possibly enroll them, or not. It also gave him emotional freedom – he didn’t need to get upset anymore. He could allow his children to carry on and respect the fact they didn’t share the same values. There are many possibilities when one is aware of their values, and people are more apt to listen when “I’m right and you’re wrong!!” isn’t being projected towards them.
- Economy (or something similar) was a value personal to him.
- He was projecting it – causing frustration and upset in the family.
- Being aware of his value gave him freedom and choices.
I could see this happening in my life. I understood where Wayne was coming from because I share the same value – I don’t like waste at all. It really frustrates me seeing lots of food thrown away. I’ve always been economical-minded, and I believe I was born with this value or adopted it at a very young age.
So many companies, corporations and armed forces have “core values” they espouse and share with their employees. In order to have fulfillment working within this environment, it’s a good idea to learn of these values before becoming an employee or joining. If you agree with the values, then you can work in harmony. If not, expect frustration!
One thing I’ve learned about values from coaching school is that values are who we are right now throughout space and time. Values are the main beliefs that we hold to be of great worth in our life. People often confuse values with morals. Values are not chosen. They are intrinsic.
Values can also be generational. It makes sense that an older generation would have a different value set than a younger generation. My grandmother lived through the great depression. This had a major impact on her life and formed some of her values. By the time I came around in the 1960’s, my grandmother was still living very simply and well within her means. She was grateful for everything and took nothing for granted. Faith, devoutness, simplicity and thankfulness were some of her values.
Here are Some Definitions: (Merriam Webster)
Moral: concerning or relating to what is right and wrong in human behavior; based on what you think is right and good.
In the above example about the toothpaste: A statement based on morals might be: It’s wrong to waste. People who waste are lazy and a detriment to society.
Principle: a moral rule or belief that helps you know what is right and wrong and that influences your actions; a basic truth or theory: a rule or code of conduct.
An example might be: I worked hard; I should get a fair wage! A common statement people will say is: “It’s the principle of it!”
Values: one’s judgement of what is important in life.
An underlying value might be: loyalty, fairness, integrity.
- Values can support you in achieving a greater state of clarity on what’s worth pursuing in your life.
- We all have our own unique meaning for each value which represents our individual essence.
- Values are often one word like: freedom, love, or peace or may sometimes be better described by a phrase: Oneness/authenticity/integrity.
How to Find Your Values
A good question to ask yourself might be: What’s important and why? I’ve moved around a lot in my life, changing location and jobs frequently. When people find out I’m moving [again], I usually get the comment: “I would love to move but I won’t leave my family.” Different values are at play here.
Values are the ultimate and most fulfilling form of expressing and relating. Your values act as your life compass and values point out what’s true for you. When you honor your values on a regular and consistent basis, life is good.
An important and enlightening exercise might be to inquire into your values. See which ones are present in the areas of your life and which are missing, perhaps causing you unfulfillment. Maybe look at which one you may be projecting onto others, causing you considerable frustration, or which one you may be compromising.
You can ask these and other questions to help you find your values:
- What is the most important thing to you about life?
- What’s the most important thing to you about your job?
- What are the most important qualities in a personal relationship?
- If you’re feeling really frustrated about something, ask yourself: What is it that frustrates me? and turn it around to the opposite, what would you like to see? – is that a value? For example, I get frustrated when I see people walk over something instead of picking it up. What I would like to see is someone awake enough to see it and care enough to pick it up. My values then could be mindfulness and caring.
Once you have identified some of your values, you can make value-related decisions about your life. It’s good to have this awareness to help you avoid getting into situations that don’t work for you! Values are a lot more important and influential in our lives than we may think, that’s why it’s good to know yours.