“We hang on to our values, even if they seem at times tarnished and worn; even if, as a nation and in our own lives, we have betrayed them more often that we care to remember. What else is there to guide us? Those values are our inheritance, what makes us who we are as a people.”
Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope.
While Martha (not the real name) and I sat down to have lunch, I asked her the question, ” how did you get involved in working with people who live with HIV?”
It was as a teenager a close relative of hers was diagnosed with AIDS. She spoke about how she saw her relative being treated, the discrimination and the denial by other members of her own family. She spoke about her relative’s personality, their aspirations before they were diagnosed and as she tried to hold back the tears, she confessed to me her promise to improve the lives of persons living with HIV: psychologically and physically.
These heart-rending stories highlight the power of understanding your values and pursuing your meaningful purpose in life. Martha lives by her values; passion, love, compassion, commitment and hope. Martha held her relationship with her relative dearly, and it was that love and her compassion that effectively made her commit her life to improving the lives of people living with HIV. That became the meaningful purpose in Martha’s life. In the end, her commitment has impacted countless families and she still has hope to improve the life of many others.
Fortunately, most of us don’t have to experience this kind of heartache to illuminate the importance of living our values and pursuing our meaningful purpose.
All of us have values. Values are the things that have intrinsic worth to us, values are the things we believe are important in the way we live and work. But most of the time we don’t consciously think about what our values are.
Sometimes our values get out of order. Here is something I learnt to see if my values are in order. I divide a blank piece of paper into three columns. In the left column, l write down recreation, work, family, faith, and fitness on separate rows. In the middle column I write down what percentage of my waking hours is spent in each of the five areas listed in the first column. In the third column, I prioritize each of these areas on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the most important and 5 being the least important.
Make your own list with six things you value most in your life and then rank them in order of what is most important to you. Some values which help better ones social and emotional well being are: generosity, creativity, loyalty, dependability, open-mindedness, humor, motivation, sense of adventure, consistency, respect.
Take a look at your list. Do you see any incongruities? Is there any area that you ranked as very important yet you’re only spending a small percentage of your time? We should ask ourselves, ” am I spending my day living my values? ”
Damion Baker is the Founder and Executive Director of Monarch Health Services, Inc. His life’s purpose is to inspire others to recognize their own greatness, so that they too can help others.