Values are the ideas and beliefs that we hold as special. However, values, in many cases, may seem to be misplaced or wrong. We may tend to place more value or priority or weightage to some idea or belief and less to others. Some of our values are clear. But most of them are muddled or ambiguous or unknown. So how do we build a correct value system? As per Steven Covey, the celebrated author of “7 habits of highly effective people”, if we base our values on the unchangeable, fundamental principles of life, then we can have a correct value system.
Before we get on to how to build a correct value system, one may question why do we require a correct value system?
Society is a fabric made up of human beings as its individual fibre. In order to have a society that runs in a peaceful and sustainable way, each fibre has to be strong. If the value system of a person is not correct, the fibre is weak and there will be holes in the fabric. A correct value system is required to have a good society.
But how do we know our values? How do we get to evaluate them? The vehicle of thought is our instrument to take us to the roots of our value system. With conscious introspection on our actions and watching over our thoughts (self-awareness), questioning using our conscience, we can get to know our values.
The value system is like an iceberg. There is a portion of it over the water which one can easily see and identify. However, a much larger portion is underneath the surface and is difficult to unearth. However, it influences a person and directs the decisions in his life. So, how do we uncover our values?
One may start with all the things that the person likes and then derive the idea or belief that is behind it. This is to identify our values which are at the surface. If someone has already put some thought on it, then, it may help as an exercise to write down the values that one holds dear. It is impossible to enumerate all of one’s values as most of them will be not clearly available or distinguished, many belonging to the realm of the sub-conscious. To unearth our hidden values, we need to analyze our actions and deduce the underlying values.
Having written down whatever values, one feels, one holds dear, and whatever hidden values that one is able to identify, one may proceed to dissect each of those one by one. One needs to analyze what are the fundamentals or principles on which a particular value is based on. Upon analysis, we can discover that we may have some conflicting values. We may discover that some of our values are based on incorrect foundations or fundamentals. Then we may work on consciously creating a set of values, based on right fundamentals and principles. A right value system will lead us to making decisions that are true to us and fair to others as well. The right decision, leads to right action or conduct, which shapes our behavior and builds our habits and re-enforces our character.