What are personal values and what do they have to do with becoming a resilient person? Values are chosen life paths or directions – they help orient our behavior. Without values, every day actions can be seemingly meaningless, non-purposeful or just tedious. I have values for various roles I play in life, a wife, a mother, a yoga instructor – to be good at those roles. My husband likes to keep the hand towels in the bathrooms neatly folded and he folds it every time he sees it askew! With two children around, this is pointless as far as I am concerned (but it keeps it from falling off of the rod!). But I try to keep up this activity because it is important to him. So when we look at the things we do in the context of our values, this frequent towel folding activity can be meaningful.
Values are different from goals, they are related, but different. Values point you in the direction you want to go. A goal is something that you actually achieve along the way when you have aligned yourself with your values. So a value is something that never ceases whereas a goal can be crossed off once you achieve it. When we actually clarify our personal values and strive to live consistently with them, we are able to enhance our resilience. Friedrich Nietzsche said, “the person who has a why to live can bear just about anything.”
When we commit to living consistently with our values, being the person we want to be, doing what matters most to us in life, we reflect on our lives as being more meaningful, purposeful and, ultimately, more fulfilled. It minimizes the impact of stress. And we’re able to see through stressful situations and stay committed to doing that which matters most. We can’t avoid stress, so we must accept stress as being a part of life, letting it be there, present with us, and staying focused and committed to doing what matters most. So we later reflect on our decision-making and our behaviors and those things are in alignment with who we want to be and those are our values.
Australian psychologist, Russ Harris, an expert in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, said “Commitment isn’t about being perfect, always following through, or never going astray. Commitment means that when you inevitably stumble or get off track, you pick yourself up, find your bearings, and carry on in the most meaningful direction possible.”
Humor: Where do cows go on their field trips? To the Mooseum!