A compass helps you figure out where you are in relation to “true north.” Values are similar.
Values are about how you want to show up in the world.
Like a compass, values can help you figure out the path toward a meaningful and fulfilling life. They help you clarify the direction you want to go — although the journey is about the trip, not the destination.
A vibrant life has more than just happiness and good things. Difficult experiences and emotions are necessary for a rich, full life. A well-lived life is full of colour. It has ups and downs, high and lows, joys and sadnesses, loves and pains.
Values are about moving toward what matters rather than away from something bad.
Explore your values
Values are not fixed in stone. They may change throughout your life. For instance, when you are younger, your most important priority may be how you appear to your friends. Later in life, this might change to what kind of partner or parent you want to be.
Exploring your values should be an ongoing process throughout your life. Below is a list of common ones. Review the list and consider which values are most important to you — that is, the values you most want to express in the world. And notice the ones that make you want to smile or feel a bit lighter. Those matter too.
We feel pain when our values are violated: “Where there is pain, you’ll find your values.”3
Many people experiencing moral injury say they feel broken, or that their moral compass has broken. But moral pain is an indicator that the compass is working.
However, going through something difficult can clarify your values. The good news is you can use your values compass to find your way back to a meaningful, vibrant, and value-driven life.