What do you value and why?

One key making ethical decisions, and discovering who you are is exploring your values.

Values are the inner compass that tells us whether the direction we’re going will get us somewhere we actually want to be.

At the Youth Rites of Passage Summit in Ojai, CA, we had the opportunity to interview rite-of-passage leaders from around the world. We asked them what their message to young people was, and some of them talked about values:



There are two kinds of values: things we value for the sake of other things, and things we value for their own sake.  So what we’re really asking here is what do you value for its own sake? This is actually not too hard to figure out. You just have to think like you’re a three-year-old, and that three-year-old’s parent at the same time: you have to ask yourself “why?” over and over again until you can’t answer anymore.

What is something you like, or something that’s important to you?

Why is that important to you? What does it create or accomplish that matters to you?

Now, why is that important to you? Now, take the answer to this question and ask,

Why is that important to you?

Now, keep this up until the answer is “I don’t know. It just is.” That thing that just is important to you is one of your values.

Maybe it’s love, maybe it’s peace, maybe it’s justice, maybe it’s beauty, maybe it’s freedom, maybe it’s creativity, or maybe it’s something else. It doesn’t have to be an abstraction like the ones I just listed.

When you know you value something just because, then you know what makes you tick.

The next time you have to make a decision, ask yourself “which action is going to promote those things I most deeply value? Which is going to create most of those things that are important to me because they just are?”

Another cool thing about knowing what your values are is that you can use them to evaluate things. Here are some opportunities to do that:

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