Navigating Life With Purpose: Examples of Personal Values to Live By

A good, bad example of personal values are the following three: money, fame, and easy. These three, are widespread diseases. Corrupting the minds of billions of people around the world. Nudging them to think that with money and fame, they’ll have an easy life.

Values are what guide us. Values convey what is important to us in our lives.

But when was the last time you asked yourself: “What are my personal core values and beliefs? What do I actually care for? What do I stand for?”

Not recently, right?

Some fight corrupt corporations and outdated institutions to make essential resources available to everyone in the world. While most others, act in a way to attract as many resources as possible toward solely themselves.

Plainly, some people have noble personal core values, while others’ choice of principles is outrageously poor.

One interesting metaphoric expression in relation to personal values is the following: Values don’t tend to knock, they just show up in your house.1

If you don’t think about your core values, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have any core values. You simply adopted some principles along the way. Which kind of means that the ones you have are probably not the ones you need. Your current values are imposed upon you by someone else.

Maybe I can’t help you completely erase the corrupting beliefs from your system with a single article. But I can try to help you start the process of replacing these cemented beliefs with other, worthy ones.

In this piece, we’ll expand on the topic of values. I’ll share how values changed how I engage with others – in a good way. And also share examples of personal values in life that you can consider embracing.

What Are Personal Core Values?

Personal core values can be considered as your navigating system. An internal compass pointing the way and prompting you to go in a certain direction.

Everybody has a certain set of beliefs already established. But this doesn’t mean that everybody is aware of these beliefs.

Commonly, people who don’t think about values consider them buzzwords. Catchphrases that nerds use to make themselves seem more deep, enlightened, and appear to be better people than they actually are.

Honestly, I was too recently seeing the discussion of values as something pretentious and self-aggrandizement.

Why on earth would one want to bother with discovering their personal core values, when there’s so much Netflix to be watched, and social media posts to be seen and shared?

But it does matter.

Exactly because there is too much Netflix to be watched, and an avalanche of social media content available for sharing, clicking, liking, etc. One should engage in the process of finding what is valuable to him because otherwise… what is valuable to others will transfer and become valuable to you, too. You will never figure out what is truly significant to you. What you should care about because your mind will be hypnotized by the wants and needs of others.

Every time there is a new episode of the “whatever” show, you will watch it because others are watching it and talking about it. And every time someone shares his new designer handbag, you will mindlessly approach the store and get the same overpriced purse to feel fashionable and wealthy without considering the financial consequences.

Preventing the above doomy scenario can happen by outlining your own values. Understanding the importance of values.

Plainly, values are the secret sauce for a fulfilling life and a curing pill removing you from the vortex of what others want.

Discovering what you value will stop you from wasting your time on activities that don’t contribute to your well-being. Plus, place you in the passenger seat so you can finally start living the life you want.

How Are Personal Core Values Formed?

Personal values are formed through a complex scientific process involving the interplay of various neurochemical reactions within the brain. Dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin are released which create a sense of pleasure and reward. It’s kind of like playing a game of Tetris. The brain tries to fit different experiences into the right neural pathways, and the ones that fit the best, form a long-term view – values. All of this happens under the watchful eye of the prefrontal cortex, which acts as the gatekeeper to the psyche, determining which values make the cut and which ones get sent to the recycle bin of the mind.

I am kidding.

Yes, there are probably chemical reactions going on in our brains. And yes, probably we can keep the Tetris metaphor. But value-creation happens mostly through living.

Personal values are formed through a combination of factors such as life experiences, cultural and societal influences, our family and friends, and individual beliefs and attitudes.

Imagine the following conditions:

  • Your friends are obsessing over celebrities.
  • You see on TV the anchor regularly mentioning celebrities.
  • You’ve seen live how other people treat celebrities as royal figures who deserve free stuff and shouldn’t wait in line.

Well, if these are all true. If enough pieces about celebrities and how they are awesome fit in your brain. This will build a strong foundation and a cohesive belief system structured around values like money and fame.

Tetris pieces forming one complete row showcasing how values are formed.
Value formation is exactly like playing Tetris. When enough events happen in your life related to one concept – when you arrange the pieces and complete one row. You start to value certain things.

You will start putting high importance on being well-known and celebrated by others. You’ll want to be recognized and admired. You will keep your Instagram profile well-updated, hoping to reach thousands of followers who worship your name. And probably, you will structure your life around collecting luxury items and involving in instantly gratifying experiences.

Conversely, if your friends are interested in lifting weights and getting involved in running competitions. If your dad regularly took you to the library when you were little. And if you don’t quite enjoy the whole purchase, share, get likes, feel good, and repeat the whole process all over again loop. You’ll probably value knowledge and growth.

So yes, your surroundings matter greatly in how your values are formed.

The Importance of Value Awareness

Raising awareness in relation to personal core values is not only needed so you can change your values. Say, if you are unaware of what you value, and you realize that you value the wrong things. This realization can help you in the process of switching to something better.

Another cool thing – or not – about knowing what you value is that you unconsciously start to encourage others to appreciate the same thing.2

Here’s an example:

One of my personal core values is time. I value my time. How I spent my time. How I allocate my time. I track how long I am engaged in certain tasks.

If I catch myself involved in something superficial – like accidentally landing on a page filled with toys because YouTube recommended a channel after my son was recently clicking on my phone. I do my best to extract myself as fast as possible from this unworthy-of-my-attention page.

The strange – or not-so-strange thing – about me valuing time also leads to the following: I value the time of the people around me.

For instance, if I am meeting someone. I don’t want to be late not only because I want to keep my word. But also because me being late will mean that this person will have to wait for me. Thus, they’ll waste their time. Of course, there is also the concept of them being late and wasting my time, but this will be true only if I don’t know how to allocate my time when I am waiting – I default to reading books on my phone while I wait, so I won’t mind if I’m left alone for a while.

Another example of valuing the time of others which I don’t think other people think about is when you order a cab – or an Uber. The more your Uber is waiting for you. The more you waste their time. The more you waste their time. The less money they make. Because if you get inside your Uber on time, when they drive you to your destination. Then, they will be available to take another order.

So, not valuing the time of others doesn’t only mean time wasted. But wasted opportunities.

I know that this might seem like pretentious nitpicking, but it is true. And you become aware of this when you become aware of your values. When you realize the significance of values.

Yet another related thing is that the more I value my time. The more I want to help other people value theirs.

It’s like a positive side effect – or at least I think it is. I see how me being mindful about how I’m using my time is helping me. Therefore, I want others to realize this, too.

With this in mind, I’ve created a whole series of articles on the topic of why social media is not a good way to allocate your limited resource: benefits of staying off social media, reasons to quit social media, life after quitting social media, etc. I’ve even created a mini-course on the topic: Follow Yourself.

Indoors, I regularly keep my girl accountable when I see her steering at her phone instead of doing something better. (Not that my reaction is to be perceived as good – to tell what other people to do. But sometimes I just can’t help it.)

Unfortunately, I hit a brick wall with her because you can’t make someone automatically switch their belief system because you think time is valuable if they still don’t think in this direction. No. This can happen only on their terms and based on their personal introspection.

If a person does not understand for himself how important his time is – or something else. There is no external force strong enough to make him/her do something against his/hers current belief system. Yes, you can certainly stop looking at your phone for a while after reading an article with a title like, “The illusion of connection: How social media is destroying our relationships.” But this will be an exceptional short-term situation. Not the norm.

To briefly return to the articles I’ve written on why social media is evil. If you are wondering: Do they help people escape the wicked tentacles of the virtual social networks?

Even if they do, this won’t happen immediately.

Surely one article – or even a couple of them – won’t make you abandon your carefully curated collection of pictures. Your online portfolio of awesomeness. Showcasing how rich and beautiful your life is. And of course, your ability to attract attention to your persona. But what these articles will do is plant a seed that can eventually grow into a realization that fulfillment can be found outside the realms of the virtual world.

Like the Tetris example. Bricks will be arranged in your head. If you collect more and more on the same subject. For example, read books like these on the topic: Amusing Ourselves To Death by Neil Postman and Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. Who knows, you can then decide that you don’t need external validation manifested as likes on your posts to feel good.

What Are Good Personal Values?

Values are the main reason why little has gotten better and so much has gotten worse.

Simply put, we value the wrong things.

You can’t expect people to form worthwhile beliefs by simply sharing and re-sharing inspirational quotes on Instagram.

Call me old-school, but we are paying a hefty price. So much connection and information has led to the deterioration of society and wrongly defining the word good.

After all, to address the question: “What is a good example of personal values and what are good values in general?” We need to first answer: what “good” is?

Good is different for different people. For different cultures.

Typically, the expression of having good values will mean promoting well-being, growth, and positive relationships for the individual and those around them. This seems right. It seems ethical.

But the more I look around, the more I think that we place a higher value on individualism. Thus, we value the three things I mentioned at the beginning of the article: money, fame, and easy.

Naturally, these three lead to another set of bad values. We become arrogant instead of humble. We are prioritizing our own interests and desires above all else – egoism – instead of being respectful. We get excessively preoccupied with ourselves – narcissism – instead of being empathetic and caring.

Naturally, a question that unfolds itself is: What we should care about? What we should value?

Since we can’t value everything. Nor we should try to. It’s hard to make a pick even if you are presented with a list of personal core values.

It’s difficult to decide what is valuable to value. That’s why I’ve created a tournament of values. A contest between a number of moral principles, competing for the grand prize: the rarest and most precious personal core values one should aim to obtain:

What Are Your Top 3 Personal Values?

By now, I hope that almost all of us reading can identify the need to restructure what we care about. What we value.

It’s hard to identify precise areas of our lives where we should improve. What we should place our focus on. Ideally, we will want to achieve perfection across multiple domains. Sadly, this is seldom possible.

Since our time is limited, we must identify where it will be best spent.

An exercise we might try here is to stage a value tournament. First, choose several possible things you think you should value from a particular category. Then, create pairs and pit them against each other. Eliminate the ones you think you could live without. Ultimately, you should arrive at a single champion per category.

value-tournament
An example of a personal core value tournament can be something like in this picture.

As an obsessive reader of must-read psychology books. I have had the opportunity to observe human nature not only through living. But also through the eyes of leading experts – by reading their books.

After a great deal of contemplation and introspection, I’ve identified three main values I think can help best an individual:

  1. Authenticity: The courage to act in accordance with your true desires and principles. The quality of being true to one’s values and beliefs, even if this means facing criticism or rejection.
  2. Inner harmony: Or also self-awareness, is the ability to take an outside look at yourself. To spot your strengths and weaknesses. To find opportunities for change. Growth and wisdom require self-awareness. Since you can’t improve if you still don’t know what to improve. This value will help you spot what needs changing so you can correct it.
  3. Integrity: The value of integrity is of the utmost importance for a thriving community. Being honest and pushing toward what is right is a powerful personal principle.

Examples of Personal Values

What are your personal values and beliefs? You don’t have to agree with what I’ve mentioned above. And even if you do, you don’t have to make these your primary values.

Having this min mind, let’s look at this:

What’s else out there to value?

Here are 20 examples of personal values to choose from that will help you guide your life:

  1. Wisdom: to understand the nature of things and to think critically.
  2. Integrity: adherence to a strong moral and ethical code.
  3. Perseverance: to persist in the face of adversity.
  4. Courage: to face fear and uncertainty with bravery.
  5. Justice: to act in accordance with what is fair and right.
  6. Temperance: to control one’s desires and passions.
  7. Self-control: to control one’s thoughts, emotions, and actions.
  8. Prudence: to make sound judgments and decisions.
  9. Empathy: to understand and share the feelings of others
  10. Humility: to acknowledge one’s limitations and mistakes.
  11. Gratitude: to appreciate the good things in life.
  12. Compassion: to empathize with others and to act with kindness.
  13. Fairness: to treat others with impartiality and equity.
  14. Loyalty: to be faithful and dedicated to others.
  15. Honesty: to be truthful and transparent in one’s words and actions.
  16. Generosity: to give freely and without expectation of return.
  17. Resilience: to bounce back from setbacks and to learn from them.
  18. Self-discipline: to stay focused and to work hard towards one’s goals.
  19. Self-improvement: to continuously strive to become a better person.
  20. Simplicity: to live a simple and uncluttered life, free from excess and distractions.

What is Considered a Personal Value?

Though it seems obvious. The answer to the question, “what is considered a personal value?” is not that straightforward.

Yes, they are personal. But there is more to that…

Personal values are considered inner beliefs and principles that an individual uses to progress through the landscape of life. These are permanently integrated into the thinking of the person and help him advance.

Ultimately, the goal of values is to give your life direction. They determine how we should live our lives.

Having values is knowing where you should aim towards, though accepting that you will never get there.

Whereas goals can be achieved, values are unachievable. After all, it’s stupid to say that after you’ve donated money once, you’re a generous person – forever.

If you value generosity, you will continuously act in a way that supports this value of yours.

Probably the most important component of clearly defining your set of personal core values is to stick with them.

Theoretically, you can change what you value – and as you age, you most probably will. But if you constantly switch your values, this likely means that you don’t have a clear idea of what you care about. Meaning that more inner work needs to be done.

Some Closing Thoughts

I think that what many people really want from values is the ability to find direction in this directionless world.

Once you know what you value. It’s like you are no longer walking blindfolded. Changing directions based on who screams the loudest. You have a clear sense of where you should be headed.

Besides, you also discover what you don’t value. Something I think it’s of utmost importance in our current age.

Surrounding individuals are trying to make us care about what they care about. It’s our human nature. The bigger the group of people who appreciate what we appreciate. The better we feel.

But in our online world where everyone is shouting to get you to look at their pictures. At their life. At what they value. If you don’t stop. You will never get the chance to figure out what you should care about. What you should value.

Once you know. Once you no longer have to scavenge the online world looking for examples of core values. You will start to spend your time doing what you want. Engage in pursuits and obtain habits related to what you care about deeply. Not needing others to validate your actions.


More related to valued living:

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Footnotes:

  1. This is a rephrased metaphor from the book The Path of Aliveness by Christian Dillo.
  2. The “or not” part exists because if we value superficial things like money and fame. We’ll start to encourage others to adopt these vales.
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