What are values and why are they important for a good life?
When I was 19 or so, a friend of mine came to me complaining that she was being emotionally/verbally bullied by a close friend of mine. I softly persuaded him to stop it, despite him being a close friend of mine. I didn’t like bullies, for I was in a somewhat similar position once.
You could argue that by me standing up to my friend, I was acting out of my values. I stood up for my values regardless of external circumstances, whether he’s my good friend or not. I behaved according to my values and persuaded him otherwise, risking a potential loss of friendship with him.
Spoiler: He and I are no longer close friends today.
So, What Are Values?
Values can be said to be internal compasses. They are the judgment about how important something is to us. There are principles that are held internally regardless of external circumstances. Sometimes, they are principles and judgments that you may even sacrifice and die for. They can comprise of intangibles such as honesty, accountability, empathy and respect.
Why are Values Important For a Good Life?
In modern society, you may find yourself in a constant struggle to stick to your values as opposed to sacrifice them for an extrinsic result.
For example, honesty is a value in itself.
Honesty, however, sometimes is uncomfortable, especially when expressed negatively to friends or superiors. Your honesty may not be appreciated. It may involve telling your boss something that he might disagree with but might be better for the company. This may put you at risk of offending him (or losing your job). This can be difficult at times, especially so in the Asian culture.
In your relationships, what if your date you’re interested in treats you badly? What if he or she’s a no show for three dates straight and cancels on you last minute every single time? Are you going stick up for yourself and perhaps call them out? Or are you going smile, and pretend nothing happened?
Can you uphold the value of self respect? Perhaps through calling her out for her negative behaviour, risk upsetting her and losing the potential benefit of dating someone you’re interested in?
What if your friends are always showing up late and disrespectful of your time? What if you valued your time, and made efforts to be on time for meet ups? Do you hold back calling the person out to avoid the possibility of not offending him or her?
Values are researched to higher self esteem in the long run, makes you more attractive to women, increase work creativity, and make you a happier person. Positive values are also usually ensued by strong boundaries.
In short, they’re awesome.
Ironically, it’s people that do not have any values going for them that are unattractive and mediocre. They don’t stand for anything. They are people pleasers. Their craving for attention, affection from the world around them at the cost of their personal integrity and values. They’ll never build a strong identity. Counter intuitively, it’s this constant need for a false sense acceptance is what repels people away.
In our relationships, it’s the sacrifice of their own personal values that drive needy and unattractive behaviour. Values, aside from boundaries, are something I get my clients as a dating coach to iron out right away.
So Marcus, without sounding like your high school counsellor, how can you instil this thing called values in your life then?
Ironing Out Your Values
Ironing out your values can be simple as taking out a piece of paper and writing down what you will and will not accept in your life. This can range from business decisions, relationship values to all other areas of your life.
The second step is to commit and be disciplined about it. Note, no one is perfect and it’s OKAY to falter from your values from time to time. Just like a habit, you just go back to work on it.
- Your Dating and Relationship Values
So, couple of years ago, when I started wanting to attract women. The first step was to iron out my dating and relationship values. This means what I will, and will not accept from women, or people in general.
This not only helped my self esteem, but it also made my dating choices much easier.
I stopped texting girls who didn’t want to text me back, I stopped worrying about girls who didn’t want to go out on dates with me. Yeah, I get rejected, however, it saved me the heartache, the smokes and games that people play.
I started out with some of these simple values:
- I will not hang out with people who doesn’t want to hang out with me
- I will not date a girl who doesn’t want to date me
- I will not text a girl who doesn’t want to text me
- I will express my desire/ interest to women I’m interested in
These values played an important role when I’m out with a girl. I’m not looking to impress her. I’m not looking to win her over. Instead of constantly worrying if I match up to her, I’m going to see to see if she matches my values.
If you’re wondering what I value in women:
- Physical beauty (I can’t lie)
- Intellectual Curiosity
From personal experience, I’m a lot more motivated, willing to sacrifice a lot more time and effort toand to pursue a girl who’s hotter. If she’s hot but has selfie problem, sure, I’ll be more tolerant of it. If she’s hot but is slightly emotionally erratic, sure, I’ll be patient. I’m willing to give up many superficial nuances that tick me off.
However, I’m not willing to give up self-respect and personal boundaries just to pursue someone who is physically attractive. There are values that are non negotiable. If she constantly disrespects me or hates on my friends, I am going to call her out on it. If she doesn’t alter her behaviour, then I’ll simply drop her.
Note, I hold these values true for my friendships as well.
Throughout the years, I hold the people that people that owed me money accountable, I wasn’t nice to them. I told them to pay up in a stern manner, this includes close friends.
I even had a slight argument with a long time friend due to year repeated behaviour on slight money issues. I can’t respect people who don’t respect my time or money. I was willing to lose this friendship and called him out. Why?
If you don’t respect my time or money, you obviously don’t really genuinely give a fuck about me. There isn’t a friendship in place anymore in the first place. It’s difficult to hear and admit at first.
However, it’s better for the long run.
I once worked for a traditional company in Singapore. Whilst the monetary prospects were good, I hated it. Why so? That’s because the way the business was conducted went against my values of providing a competitive and ethical service to society.
The business deals were done over drinks, karaoke pubs, and mind games with everyone. Everyone was attempting to look rich, attempting to blow smoke up each other asses, instead of actually discussing real business, you know.
It forced me to iron out my business values:
- I will only run a business that provides an ethical product or service to consumers
- The systems and products have to work without any overt form of bootlicking (Imagine only making sales if you’re able to please someone or are nice to some other boss of some company)
- I’m not going to work with or for anyone who uses his network or relationships as a ‘stronghold’ (I don’t give two fucks if you tell me your father is a billionaire)
- I didn’t want to rely on ‘Guan Xi’ to do business. I made it a point for my businesses to be self-reliant for sales, leads and etc.
Ironing out these values made my career choices much simpler. I will only provide an ethical service for consumers in my choice of work. Out went the scammy marketing strategies, out went the nights of drinking just for the sake of clinching a deal.
Since I had these values in place, it freed me up to learn more about marketing, branding and ethical business practices that align with my values.
Positive Values and Negative Values
Look, fuck that high school counselling on values from that boring counsellor that your school overpaid for. Let me introduce you to the real philosophy of values and why there are both good and bad values.
Negative values are superstitious, immediately controllable and socially destructive. If you value popularity or fame, and how much you’re liked or accepted by everyone that’s not immediately controllable. That’s because you can’t control how people think of you.
If you measured yourself and valued a million dollars in a bank, that’s an external value that isn’t controllable. It’s merely going to drive you crazy daily. Negative values are reliant on an external event such as flying in a private jet, getting threesomes or travelling the world in pursuit of a hedonistic lifestyle (guilty).
Arguably, negative values can be good motivators initially. You didn’t get into self development if you didn’t want to fuck more girls, make more money and look really awesome amongst your friends right? Negative values can give you a good start, however, for long-term happiness, you’ll need to prioritize internal values in the long run.
Positive values are reality-based, immediately controllable, self-generated and are socially constructive. Positive values such as innovation, honesty and vulnerability are immediately controllable and can be self-generated right this moment.
For example, instead of valuing popularity or how much I’m liked by people, I can make an internal value of improving my dating/ social life. That way, just by going out to a bar to meet more women is a win for me, regardless of their reaction to me.
Positive values are always internally achieved and there’s no completion to them. They are also process oriented. Honesty and vulnerability are internal values that can be practice right now and in every social interaction for the rest of your life.
How to Establish Your Values Without Being an Asshole?
So the one thing about values that people (and I myself) get confused is that you got to be some what of an asshole when expressing your values
Having strong values doesn’t mean that you go around calling others out on their ‘poor values’ or ‘lack of values’. It just means recognising that you have different values than them and some times it’s just a lack of compatibility in a relationship.
The first step to establish your values is to express it in a matured manner. If the girl you’re dating shows up late, you don’t have to scream at her for showing up late. Just making it known and calling her out on it is enough.
You can always say: “Hey, I hope you won’t be this late the next time we meet.”
In a respectful and assertive manner.
I also want to note that your values should be flexible and based on context. If you have an amazing friendship with someone who’s always fucking late who has many other merits, then it’s perfectly fine to just accept that flaw in that person.
What Happens When You Change Your Values?
In the book Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, popular self development writer Mark Manson mentioned that when you change your values, it’s normal for your old relationships are going to blow up in your face.
This can be demonstrated by not accepting certain behaviour from old friends, and ticking them off the wrong way.
When I started being serious about my life and not being a fuck up. I started valuing my time and I started being serious about my life purpose and my work. If you cancel on me without letting me know, I’m sorry, that’s non-negotiable. That caused one of my close relationships to blow up in my face.
You may be someone that didn’t value formal education because you were rebellious. The friendships you made through your life probably supported and confirmed those values of yours. However, when you shift your values and think to yourself: maybe University isn’t that bad, then, needless to say, you’re going to experience a lot of friction amongst those old relationships.
In my experience, long term relationships and friendships are the hardest. You may find yourself in a place where you closest relationships no longer understand you anymore. However, do these friendships have to have to go? Absolutely not.
There’s no need to cut out a person because of a difference in values, despite a difference in values, there may be overlap in values.
However, ultimately, everyone has different values, and value different things at different points of their life.
You Are Your Values, So Be Careful of What You Value
You are defined by the values you struggle for and define for your life. The people who struggle at the gym at the ones that get in shape. The ones who struggle as a broke artist is the one that eventually make in. The ones who struggle academically are the ones that excel in school.
In my experience, I found out the hard way that people around you are going to have different values from you do at different point of their lives in multiple areas of their life from relationships to careers.
This is true of your relationship with to your parents, your childhood best friends, your boss, your pet gold fish, and your colleagues.
You may have a childhood friend that has conflicting values at some point of his or her life and a loss of friendship is inevitable.
If you are constantly bickering over petty behaviours. That merely goes to show that you have different fundamental life values and have completely different priorities completely, then perhaps a loss of a relationship might not be a completely negative thing. In my experience, loss is often an opportunity to re-invent yourself.
It’s values that ultimately bring people together and tear people apart. You’re going to be what you value. Choose your values wisely.
J, Z., S, S., J, C., & Z, Z. (2009). Social networks, personal values, and creativity: Evidence for curvilinear and interaction effects. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94(4), 1544-1552.
Manson, M. (2016). The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.New York City: HarperCollins Publishers.
W, M. M. (2007). Happiness and Virtue in Positive Psychology. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 89-103.