On one hike this summer (which there’s a funny story behind, too) my sister brought up an interesting question. I call this proxy free counseling – a question from my sister’s friend’s counselor.
What are your four most important values?
I immediately questioned why it has to be four—it doesn’t, of course. Could be three or five, whatever. But the idea is that people have different core values. And it’s good to think about what they are, so we can live more authentically.
I thought for a few minutes, and came up with four. After thinking about it more, I still feel today that these do describe my top values. This is what these four values are to me:
Integrity: doing what I think is the right thing even if it brings on difficulty and won’t be recognized.
Honesty: being truthful to myself and others, admitting shortcomings or ignorance, and not hiding truths out of cowardice. This doesn’t excuse tactlessness, of course. Kindness is so obligatory that I’m not counting it as a separate value.
Service: accepting the responsibility of being a person and acting to benefit the present and future world. Maybe there’s a better word for this, but I can’t think of it.
Serenity: maintaining calmness and acceptance – not giving in to anger or frustration. This doesn’t mean passiveness.
I was surprised by how much these stuck on my mind. I continue thinking of them, and I think they’ll help me continue to improve myself and live in better accordance to my values. It would be interesting to look back in months or years and reflect on if this awareness has changed my life. I firmly believe that we have a lot of control over who we become, and this seems like a helpful thing to keep in mind. I recommend this thought exercise!