The Ponder Effect | What are your values?
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What are your values?

This seems like an easy question. We assume we know what our values are, and we also assume that other people pretty much share those same values. Integrity, compassion, kindness. Nothing revolutionary here.

But I was reading a book recently that was discussing how the decisions we make spring directly from the values we have, and it occurred to me that maybe I needed to check in more explicitly on those values—not just the ones I lay claim to abstractly but the ones that inform my daily choices. So I started making a list and fleshing it out a bit. Awareness was the first value on my list. Then Gratitude. Then Empathy. But as I really thought honestly about myself, I started adding things like Preparedness, Productivity, and Diplomacy.

A few things happened then. One, I could clearly see that other people, including my own spouse, don’t necessarily share my values or think about them in the same way. I value Honesty but à la Emily Dickinson who suggests we “Tell all the truth but tell it slant—.” Definitely not my spouse’s take. I want to conduct our household with a mindfulness toward maintaining Harmony. Not necessarily so with my spouse. And then along came revelation two. My own values are often in conflict with each other. Respect for Authority—even if it creates discord and therefore disrupts Harmony—is important to me. Efficiency is often directly at odds with Awareness.

We don’t have to reconcile this, but we should be pondering it. What are our values, both those we think we possess and those our daily actions suggest we possess? Why do we value what we value, and which ones are the most important? Let’s create a robust value board and see what we discover.

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9 Ponderings
  • Anonymous

    January 15, 2018 at 10:32 pm

    This is a biggie:
    There are a few things we tell our children on a regular basis. They are our core family values.

    -“Be a fountain, not a drain”
    -“do the right thing, even if no one is watching”
    -“have new fun!”
    -“be kind”
    -“be confident in who you are”
    -“own your actions”
    -“be grateful for all you have”
    -“you can tell us anything, anytime”
    -“I love you!”

  • Anonymous

    January 16, 2018 at 7:34 pm


  • Anonymous

    January 17, 2018 at 5:28 pm

    It’s okay to be tired…and keep going.
    Choose to be kind instead of right.
    Seek the overlap of intense personal reflection and not giving a $hit.
    Don’t try to be you. Just be.

  • Varina Willse

    January 17, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    INTEGRITY. Doing the right thing without need for reason or attention.
    GRATITUDE. Cultivating a mindset of thankfulness, we can orient ourselves toward joy.
    PERSEVERANCE. Keep on. Push on. Steady on. That’s the only direction we have.

  • Admin

    January 22, 2018 at 3:56 pm

    As a follow-up, I have experienced conversations this week with people who are eager to determine their core set of values but don’t exactly know how. Not surprising: it is really hard to hone in on a few essential ones. There are plenty of websites out there that will take you through a valuable but sometimes tedious process. Here’s a basic approach to get you started.
    1. Take a list of values (no more than 50) and write them on note-cards.
    2. Set the note-cards out on a table.
    3. Walk around the table and write down the top 8-10 that speak to you. You might also write down the bottom 5.
    4. Study your concentrated list and ask yourself what those top values mean to you. Why are they important? Do you feel that you actively live by them or aspire to?
    5. Try to hone that list down to no more than 5. Then, start paying attention to how those values guide your daily living. Change them if you need to. This can and probably should be an ongoing process. Happy value hunting!

  • Admin

    January 22, 2018 at 3:56 pm


  • Admin

    January 22, 2018 at 3:56 pm

    This week, I feel my main value is … time alone. ? These are the values we hold dear and are trying to imprint on our kiddos:

    Faithfulness – in work, in spirit, in word
    Self-awareness (is that a value?)

  • Admin

    January 22, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    Ooh great question…

    Balance—when it is out of whack—nothing feels right

    Authenticity—when I try to be anything other than who I truly am—I feel stressed

    Love—lead with the heart—hate and anger are all too prevalent in our world

    Joy—life is so short—when I think of my loved ones who have died—I owe it to them to enjoy the time I have been given

  • Admin

    January 22, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    I have been thinking about this question every day since Sunday. Trying to figure out what I value. I find I keep stumbling into the answer to the question “what do I value?” rather than “what are my values?”. What I do value is so much easier: time by myself, books, fires, friends etc. Whar are my values is harder. I have finally come to these, but I have to confess upfront they seem vastly incomplete. Faith. Love. Gratitude. Appreciation. Kindness. Empathy.