It was Mahatma Gandhi who said a long, long time ago:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
YOUR VALUES BECOME YOUR DESTINY.”
Values are the most downplayed aspect of our lives; yet they are extremely important in helping us lead a life of respect and recognition in society. Our values hold great importance for the personal, social, and spiritual development of our lives. Values are something that we learn from our childhood; these are learning that we acquire from our elders, teachers and our immediate surroundings. These values can be truthfulness, honesty, forgiveness, bravery and so on. But, as times goes by, many of us just give up on these values; we become careless in realising their importance in our daily lives.
Our values are really our beliefs and attitudes about what is good, right, desirable, worthwhile and so on. Our value system, on the other hand, comprises of the ways that we organise, rank, prioritise and make decisions based on our values. The two, taken together, provide the foundation upon which we make our personal and professional judgments and choices. They are our beliefs about what is important in life. Some values refer to how we should act (for example, to be honest, self-disciplined, kind). Other values refer to what we wants to accomplish or obtain in life (for example, to want a lot of money, security, fame, health, salvation, wisdom).
All of us are in the world for a finite number of years. We take care of ourselves and our children because doing that seems very important to us. But, in our day to day life, we tend to forget that the values embedded in us are equally precious because they form the framework of our moral fibre. Society hold values in high esteem because they bring a certain order and sanity to our collective thinking and actions.
Values describe the ideals on the basis of which people live their lives and interact with the people who come in contact with them. They guide us on our preferences, choices, priorities, behavior and principles. They act like pillars of a society or community that should be maintained, promoted and followed by as many people as possible. The values of individuals are what hold the collective community together.
Our values define who we are as an individual, determine our behavior and our image in society or our community. We are taught to value everything in life. We are taught to value our family and care about our family, parents, siblings and home. We are taught to value the art and culture bestowed to us by our ancestors. We are taught to value our health and choosing a healthy diet, exercising regularly and avoiding using drugs. We are also taught important values on the basis of which we need to conduct ourselves within the family and the world at large.
In order to understand values better, let’s look at some of the types that exist:
* Personal values: Personal values provide an internal reference for what is good, beneficial, important, useful, beautiful, desirable, constructive etc. Values generate behaviour and help solve common human problems for survival by comparative rankings of value, the results of which provide answers to questions of why people do what they do and in what order they choose to do them.
Morris Massey asserted that most values are formed during three periods – the imprint period (from birth to 7 years); the modelling period (from 8 to 13 years) and the socialisation period (from 13 to 21 years).
Over time, the public expression of personal values that groups of people find important in their day-to-day lives lay the foundations of law, custom and tradition.
* Family values: Family values are ideas passed down from generation to generation and convey the philosophy of how to live our family life. Three traditional basic tasks in life have been described as work, play and love. There are many activities that fall under these categories that define our values. All of them are important and it takes work to balance these tasks.
However, we often get caught up in work and other activities and neglect play and love. Often, we work hard because we are invested in our career goals, material things and financial rewards. Yet, without a balanced life of incorporating play and having loving relationships, our lives become stressful, overwhelming and unsatisfying. Traditionally, people define their values by stating that the family comes first, yet they find themselves with very little time or energy left over for spending time with the family.
* Socio-Cultural Values: Socio-cultural implies that society and culture shape cognition. Social customs, beliefs, values, and language are all part of what shapes a person’s identity and reality.
Socio-cultural values depend a lot on the family and personal values and can, many a times, cause a conflict between the two. An example – If we are satisfied and happy with our work but our family does not approve of us working, we can be tagged as being selfish and irresponsible.
* Material Values: Material values refer to the values of people’s daily environmental necessities. They teach us how to manage and value our daily needs like food, shelter and clothing. We are taught to consume only according to our needs and not waste or be careless with our resources.
* Spiritual Values: Spiritual values are values of trueness, goodness and beauty arising from intellect, emotion, and will. They do not necessarily come from religion. Spiritual values add meaning and foundation to our life. They are a part of our human needs.
* Moral values: Moral values are the principles and standards which determine whether an action is right or wrong. Moral values are based on a moral code, which is a system of morality according to a particular philosophy, religion, or culture. The Golden Rule for moral values is to treat others as we would like others to treat us.
Values give us a clear sense about what is most important in life. Values also help us in determining our goals. They make sure we have specific and strong goals in life that we can strive to achieve. If we have good values embedded in us, then no one can stop us from achieving what we want in life. Having meaningful goals in life is very essential and necessary for thriving and succeeding. Life goals provide us with a life of meaning and a source of motivation to fulfill the day to day tasks and responsibilities.
Ravindran G was quite right in saying that “we choose our life based on our values.”
Note: Some sections adapted from Wikipedia, Danney Ursery, Livingsustainably and Parent IQ.
Visual Courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bassibaba/