The Importance of Knowing What is Really Important to You
Last week I went to a funeral. Harry died at 79. His daughter, grandson and son-in- law each gave brief speeches about him. They spoke about his commitment to family; his mischievous sense of humour; how he was a very effective businessman; how he always had time (and $2 for an ice cream!) for his grandkids.
Their descriptions of Harry were statements about the values that Harry had lived through his life. Think for a moment, what would you want people to say at your funeral about the way you have lived your life? If you spend a few minutes really thinking about that, then you have just done something important – you have identified your values.
Research suggests that spending some time identifying our values provides some significant benefits including:
Coping better with stress (we produce less cortisol in a stressful situation if we have thought about our values first)
Improved motivation for activities that relate to what we value
Becoming more accepting of different points of view and new information
Increased feelings of connection to others
If then you decide to live those values, if you use your values to guide your actions every day. Then you are living a life full of meaning and purpose – and it doesn’t get much better than that.
University of California News Release 4 Nov 2005 Reflecting on personal values offers protection from effects of stress, UCLA psychologists report
Harris, Russ The Happiness Trap – How to Stop Struggling and Start Living
Geoffrey L. Cohen,* Julio Garcia, Nancy Apfel, Master Allison Reducing the Racial Achievement Gap: A Social-Psychological Intervention Science 1 September 2006: Vol. 313. no. 5791, pp. 1307 – 1310
Seligman Martin Authentic Happiness: RANDOM HOUSE, Australia
Association for Psychological Science. News Release July 22, 2008 Reflecting on values promotes love, acceptance
Hayes, Steven (2005) Get Out Of Your Mind and Into You Life: New Harbinger