A couple months ago I introduced you to Todd Kashdan, social scientist and author of Curious? Discover The Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life. Reading this book, I’m impressed by how convincing Kashdan is when he makes the point that much of what zaps the meaning from our sense of self, our our work and our relationships with others can be considered a basic lack of curiosity. When we think of curiosity, I daresay we define it as an outward view of the world and of others. Curiosity is often regarded as a wonderment of the world outside ourselves. Kashdan feels that true curious people, however, are as interested in what’s going on inside themselves as they are in the world they occupy. What’s more, curious people can identify and honor their own personal values.
Talking about values is ubiquitous in our lives when we discuss important stuff like family, work and education– especially in an election year! Values are the bedrock of all the things that we strive for to make our lives better and it is generally assumed that, if we have more good values, we will be better liked by others– and this is not entirely untrue. But, in Curious? Kashdan approaches the notion of values as a tool for self-discovery and, through identifying them, as a way for the individual to gain insight into what drives and motivates him/her in all the things we do in the world.
With an alphabetical listing of common values, readers are encouraged to identify their personal top ten values and to then prioritize them into most important, very important and least important. He implies that we often go through life without consideration for our true values and how they influence our decisions and our actions. Knowing our values makes it easier to make decisions about what direction to move in and “adds layers of meaning to any activity when we can connect our behavior to cherished values.” Keeping a list like this in our midst provides us with a “map” to get back on track when we feel unmoored and validates us when we worry about whether we are being truly authentic.
In doing my own values inventory I was relieved to find some of my deepest beliefs and ideas defined as values, but I was also struck by the sense of guilt I felt for choosing some values that seemed more shallow and selfish than others. I would imagine that this feeling comes from close encounters with people in my life who don’t share the same values that I do which, of course, shines a light on these relationships and lends new insight as to why our interactions with each other are the way they are. When you identify the ten values that occupy your being–truly occupy your heart and soul– you realize that the people and places you find yourself with can either complement or conflict with what is actually the very fiber of your being. You can find Kashdan’s list of values at the end of this post. Look over them for yourself, think about what you feel is most important for you, not what you want others to think about you… what is it that makes you tick? What are the values that you feel truly define you? Circle your ten, prioritize them and then contemplate what this might mean for your interactions in the world at large.
TRY THIS WEEK: Value your values. They are YOU.