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What Are Personal Values?

Feb 22, 2008
Whether you realize it or not, your life is guided by a set of core values. We all have a subconscious list of principles that steer us down different paths of life; unfortunately most of us aren't fully aware that they exist. Some may have been developed during difficult periods of our life, and others may have been part of the generational package we inherited from our caregivers. It's simply a matter of awareness. Once you go through the process of identifying a specific set of values you begin attracting people and situations that support that ideology. When you're not given the opportunity to create a strong set of beliefs, you adopt many of your childhood care giver's behaviors and decision-making skills, whether good or bad, which ultimately become, for lack of a better word, your patterns.

Values are often described as ethics, virtues, beliefs, guiding principles, ideals and even a personal moral compass for which to live life. Regardless of terminology they all share the same goal, which is to provide: inner happiness; increased confidence; better decision-making; fulfilling relationships; create balance; clearer direction; and greater personal awareness. Core values act as rules or criteria for all of your decisions and actions. They guide our decision-making process and can range from how we choose our friends to our charitable actions or to the level of honor we exhibit in difficult situations. Our core values also cover all of the categories that define your life such as personal, social, aesthetic, religious, political, and health. They help us choose between good and bad, they support and help establish our goals, they give us a sense of purpose, and help us define work, friends, family and relationships. Values are every man's right and privilege, they're non-denominational and do not adhere to any specific religion, government or educational institution.

Historically, values have long been recognized as an important factor to creating a happier, more fulfilling life. Great men from Aristotle to Benjamin Franklin wholeheartedly believed in the development of personal values. Thousands of years ago, the Greeks inscribed aphorisms, such as 'Know Thyself' and 'Nothing in Excess', in many spiritual locations. Aristotle adopted these same philosophies and created 7 virtues that he described as the 'mean' between good and bad excesses. At the age of 20, Benjamin Franklin, one of the most revered men in American history, crafted 13 values so that he could live a purpose driven life. These men lived thousands of years apart and in completely different times, yet shared the understanding that values helped them establish goals and achieve a positive and healthy way of living.

Benjamin Franklin identified the following 13: Temperance; Silence; Order; Resolution; Frugality; Industry; Sincerity; Justice; Moderation; Cleanliness; Tranquility; Chastity; Humility

Aristotle identified the following 7 virtues: Courage; Temperance; Liberality; Magnificence; Pride; Gentleness; Agreeableness; Truthfulness; Wit

For decades, successful corporations have also been using values, value statements, strategic planning, corporate vision and mission statements. They keep all layers in the organization aware of long and short-term goals, which let them communicate corporate ideologies. It also gives them direction and creates cohesiveness among the staff, as well as making sure that everyone is 'on the same page'.

So you see, establishing your own set of core values has many benefits, including raising personal awareness, opening your eyes to the world around you, and mostly helping you break some of those old patterns, which you'll discover never defined you as a person anyway. Check out www.livingandlovingwell.com if you'd like to learn how to identify your top 10 values.
About the Author
Joseph Stuczynski is the author of "Living and Loving Well", a powerful method that develops one's core values as the basis to creating positive life changes. Joe is also a PMI certified Project Manager, with 10 yrs Info Tech exp in a Fortune 250 company. Visit http://www.livingandlovingwell.com
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