What are values?
Values are defined as “a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.”
Basically, our values are our core beliefs about how we should act and what is and isn’t acceptable.
Values can guide our actions in life, and for this reason I think it’s important that we are aware of what our values are and why.
I wondered how we “acquire” or form our values. I think they can come from many places including our innate dispositions and qualities as well as from external sources like our parents, our society, and our individual cultures.
I do think sometimes we can grow into our values. We might learn and experience things that help us to form or change our values. This can happen at any age. I don’t think it’s ever too late to adjust or realize our values.
How can I figure out what my values are?
I think a great way to start is to set aside some time for yourself to sit down and write it out.
Based on my experiences I describe below, I have settled on a couple of questions we can ask ourselves that will help us to better understand our values as long as we answer them honestly.
The questions are:
- What is important to you?
- What do you want to make of your life?
When I talk about answering these questions honestly, I mean trying to hear from your intuition - your deeper innate source of knowing. I know that this can be seen as weird and woo woo in our ego-driven and logical mainstream society. Tell the cool kids it’s cooler to be happy.
Jess Lively, of the podcast, “The Lively Show,” walks us through an exercise in speaking with our intuition to get the answers we need most. I credit this exercise with helping me make the choice to live a life I want.
If you’re interested in learning more about speaking with your intuition, check out the episode of The Lively Show in which Jess shares this exercise.
My experiences hearing from my intuition
If you're interested in reading about what I heard from my intuition and how it helped me, keep reading.
A little over a year ago I was feeling sad, overwhelmed, disheartened, and pointless. I knew that what I was doing in life wasn’t fulfilling in the way I was doing it, and it was running me down physically and emotionally.
I knew I needed to make changes, but I was scared and I didn’t know how to make them or even what changes to make.
I heard Jess Lively talking about hearing from the intuition on her podcast and decided to give it a try.
This exercise is about communicating with that deep place of knowing inside that feels expansive and right even if it’s saying something that’s hard to hear.
She suggests asking your intuition yes or no questions at first to get a sense for what hearing from your intuition feels like. She then says we can begin to ask ourselves more complicated questions.
So what I did, back when I was working at my preschool job, was take a half hour or so to “talk to my intuition.”
I sat down alone at my desk with my computer and opened up a blank document.
The answers I heard from my intuition are in bold.
This is kind of personal, but I want to share it because I think it might be useful to some people. I think this stuff is kind of cheesy, but I also think it's incredibly valuable. Take it as you will!
I thought of some questions I wanted answers to like, “Why do I feel sad right now?”
“Am I happy in Philadelphia?”
“Do I want to move?”
Closing my eyes and trying to listen to that deeper expansive source and typing out what I heard lead me to realize that it wasn’t about where I was living, but what I was doing and not doing that was causing me the most unhappiness.
It lead me to ask myself what I wanted to be doing every day in a perfect world.
Here’s what I listed at the time:
- wake up feeling refreshed
- eat living high vibrational foods
- listen to or read some self development material
- create intentions for the day
- focus on serving and those goals and intentions
- spend time in nature outside
- drink tea
- do yoga
- play a sport
- eat high vibrational foods, raw, good for gut
- relax, candles
- back off from screens an hour before bed
- journal and/or meditate at night
- sleep well - allow for 8 hours of sleep
Then I asked, “What am I to do with my life here?”
I am to reduce suffering. I am to cook. I am to care about animals. I am to inspire others. I am to laugh and smile. I am to be healthy.
Should I use Like Minimal, YouTube, and the internet in general to inspire and serve in this way?
Yes. It is smart to start something and see where it goes. You may not know where you will end up, but it's better than not doing anything. This is a way to get done what you want to get done even while working at (current job). You have to create a routine and schedule around these things or it will never work.
I am scared to do a website and YouTube. Why am I afraid?
You are afraid because you don’t know how to do it. You need to get started and figure it out as you go. Nobody is perfect and everything takes time and practice.
Is using the site and YouTube helping me live based on my values?
Yes, it’s inspiring other people to be happier and healthier by eating kindly and healthily and letting go of the junk in their lives. It is inspiring others to be more conscious. You have to be yourself too, one hundred percent. That’s going to be hard for you, but it will help you become a better speaker and help you to interact with people more naturally and authentically.
If you could only do one thing with your life right now, what would it be?
I would spend my time with animals. I would work for them to be treated fairly and kindly. To have loving homes and to be free.
I would focus my energy and time on animals in captivity and those being abused. No matter which type.
How can I leave my current job and pursue this work?
You can use the money you’ve saved to get you started. You can look for jobs that involve animal work but also jobs that don’t require extra time spent. You can use your free time to work on projects that will help animals. Create a society or fundraiser type thing. You can create a vegan website. You can create a vegan YouTube channel. This is what’s closest to your heart. Over all things. Vegan is the way.
I want to trust you but I have doubts.
What scares you?
Walking away from this secure life scares me. I know how much money I make and what I can afford now. I am comfortable. I can eat healthy foods and go out to eat and buy things I want/need. I can support my cat and my guinea pigs. I can pay for my bills. If I walk away from (current job), I will not know if I will be able to maintain this life.
You don’t love this life. You don’t need to maintain this life. You need to figure out what matters most and go from there. You can cut down some bills and sell some more things. You can refine your eating habits and maybe even move to a cheaper house.
I want to work somewhere I can learn. I want to work somewhere I can develop my speaking skills or people skills.
A week or so later I wrote this:
I am leaving my job after graduation, at the end of June. I’m asking my intuition: What job should I pursue now while I figure out what’s essential for me to do?
You should pursue something that allows you to be outside and learn. You should pursue something that won’t require take home work. Maybe nannying, the natural foods market, a vegan restaurant, although a vegan restaurant might not be outside or allow me to be very creative. I also don’t have good restaurant experience.
I think I should work with adults to get some more social skills and maybe make friends. I would love to be able to have mornings free to work on things - my brain works best in the mornings.
Fast forward to today
I’m working a nannying job that allows me mornings at home and time spent outside. I’m doing fine financially while trying to always save and learn more about money. I’m creating and learning about simplifying, being more compassionate unconditionally to all beings on the planet (even stinky humans), and have time and energy to focus on my mental and physical health.
This is where I am at this time. I have a clear understanding of what’s important to me and what my values are.
I pose these questions in the beginning of the Daily Intent Journal & Planner because I think figuring out what our values are is step 1 in creating a life we love.
- What is important to you?
- What do you want to make of your life?
Here is how I answered these questions the other day:
1. What is important to you?
It is important to me to be happy and healthy. It is important to me to help other animals and people to be happy and healthy. I feel amazing when I am happy and healthy. I feel amazing when other people are happy and healthy and when animals are happy and healthy. It warms my heart and helps me to enjoy my own life. I am very sensitive to the pain of others and hate being in pain myself. Especially pain that is unnecessary. I think everyone has pain sometimes, but systemic oppression and violence is unnecessary for a healthy planet.
It is important to me that I act on a daily basis in ways that will change systemic oppression and violence against all life so that more people and animals and the planet for that matter can be happy and healthy.
What do you want to make of your life?
I want to free animals and people of unnecessary pain and suffering and help everyone to be happy and healthy and live in harmony. So basically world peace. Haha.
I want to free all animals. There is no point to cause others so much suffering. People are so distracted by money and entertainment and nostalgia and tradition and being cool that they harm others daily. What is the point of life? I think it’s human nature to be kind to all animals and the earth and to enjoy each other’s company and work together to make good things happen.
I want to be a well spoken, intelligent, thoughtful, caring, kind, compassionate, empathetic, wise, firm, and action-taking member of society as a woman.
I want to understand how humans function so that we can address the problems. I want to learn and work to get to the point of liking humans as a species because I think that it’s necessary to work with them to solve these problems.
I want to balance making my own life great with making others’ lives great and generating an income in a way that doesn’t exploit people, animals, or the planet.
However, I really like what Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says, “Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything.”
In this world we’ve created there is no perfect way to exist. I’m typing this on a computer that was built by people I don’t know, in conditions I don’t know about, with substances and metals that are harmful to human health, etc.
I think it’s about making the best choices I can in each moment.
Based on my intuitive answers to these questions, I have learned that my values are:
- health & wellness (of myself, others, non-human animals, & the planet)
- spending time with loved ones
- mindfulness & acting intentionally
These are my core beliefs and values that influence my daily interactions, habits, routines, actions, and goals.
Once we have our values clearly stated and understood, we can move to step 2: Mapping Out Our Lives & Goals, which will be the next blog post and video in this series you can expect to see soon.
Don’t forget, if you’re interested in using a tool that takes these 6 steps into consideration, download a free copy of the Daily Intent Journal & Planner PDF by visiting likeminimal.com and entering your e-mail, or by visiting this link.
See you soon!