The Value of Values
Ask any person on the street what they value and they’ll immediately be able to give you a couple of examples: money, family, rain, loyalty, a smile, friends, life, health, medical care, happiness, honesty, having a job, travel, wisdom, intuition, creativity, and so on. What anyone answers to the question, “what do you value?” tells a lot about that person, at least in their current mode. It is a question that generates excitement in the person because it somehow gets to the nub of their current understanding of what their life is about.
Our values change as life progresses. This is not an indication of fickleness but of inner growth or maturity. As our understanding matures so do our values change.
Many things articulated as a value are a symbol for something else. For instance, nobody values money for itself, for the pieces of metal or paper or numbers in their bank account but for the possibilities it offers them. You could say that money symbolises a valuation of freedom and control over our life.
Sometimes a person states a value that is really an ideal; something that in theory they believe in. An example of this is say “honesty”.
Conventional wisdom says “honesty is the best policy” – but is it really and always?
If you can imagine a situation where being honest would leave you or someone else vulnerable to danger, would honesty be the best policy then?
In such a situation what has happened is a conflict of values, the conflict between honesty and danger.
One of the features of daily life is this arising of conflict between our values. Often we are not aware of our own values until some situation brings them to light.
Or, there is a discrepancy between what we say or believe and what we do.
In keeping with the universal wisdom teachings of the world, “Know yourself”; it is a very valuable line of inquiry into yourself to look at your values.
With this in mind here are a few questions worth considering.
What is value? What do you value most in your life?
How would you test your values, by what you say/think or by what you do?
Is what you like the same as what you value?
How have your values shaped your life?
Where do(your) values come from: society, beliefs, intuitions, education, emotions, experience, etc?
Are there different sources of values?
How are your personal values related to societies values. Does this ever cause you conflict?
Did you create/generate your values or did your values generate you?
Are values consciously chosen or picked up or inherited?
How are values connected to ideals and how are they different?
For a value to have value does it need to be realistic, eg common sense?
How are values connected to beliefs or assumptions or expectations or desires?
How do personal values relate to expert values, eg. Art appreciation versus personal taste – personal belief versus perennial wisdom?
Does scarcity create value? Are common things less valuable than rare things and why so?
Is the cost of something the same as its value?
How is appreciation related to value?