Whatever you choose, consciously or unconsciously, to value the most in life will have a dominant influence on the design of your life. It will affect your choices, it will affect who you choose to share your life with, and it will affect how happy you will be.

Note that we write that it's about what you value the most. That is, you have the ability to influence your choice. This, of course, requires that you make the choice consciously rather than unconsciously.

We constantly meet situations in our lives that make us stop and think, act and make decisions. Our actions and decisions are to a great deal based on our values. Values helps us take a stand in different questions and many of these are values that we have taken from people who has meant or mean a great deal to us, but we look at these values as they were our own.

A value is ultimately a condition that we strive to achieve. We can divide values in to two main categories, state and instrument. The state value is often about feelings, emotions that I value the most in life and that I strive to achieve. The instrument value is also something that we can call funds or assets, the things I value the most, but if we dig a bit deeper they are funds or instruments on the road to my state values.

An example on an instrument value is money. I might value money very high, they are important to me in life and this will affect my choices. Really, the money is just an instrument to achieve a feeling or a state of mind, for example happiness. In this case I will probably associate it with; when I have a lot of money I will feel very happy.

Examples of values

Examples of state values are love, joy, giving, health and others. Examples of instrument values are the nature, money, career, success and others. What we define as a state value or an instrument value can be from an individual view. It may be helpful to ask yourself if the current value is a final value, thus a state value, or if it is a tool to experience a deeper state, which, in that case, would make it an instrument value.

Below is a list of other examples of values. Which of these are most important to you? Which ones are instrument values or state values for you?

Examples of values:

Column 1Column 2Column 3
Education Fairness Health
Beauty Sex Power
Financial Security Career Success
Feet on the ground Peace and quiet Family
Food and drinks Cultural stimulus Thrill
Adventure Challenges Togetherness
Companionship Friendship Appreciation
Humor, joy, play Fellowship Adaptability
Punctuality Friends Good salary
Reliability Value for money Result
Quality Control Hobbies
Honesty Exercise Environmental Awareness
Entertainment Creativity Having a job


Active or passive values

The values you have that guides you in life can either be active or passive. If we start with a passive value, this is a value that you have taken with you somewhere along the road of life and made to yours without making a conscious choice. It might have been something that your parents valued high and which you indirectly made to your own value without asking yourself whether or not this will help you achieve what you want in life.

An active value is when you have made an active and consciously choice to make this a value that will be a basic guide in your life. An active value requires you to analyze and value your own values and find out what they stand for and if they still serve a purpose in your life. The purpose of this process is to learn to live as one wish to and to find harmony between the opinions and values one expresses and the way one lives its life as.

An active value is:

  • A conscious choice in regards to different alternatives and consequences, especially what we want to achieve and create in life.
  • A choice we are happy and proud of.
  • A choice we act from and often repeat.

Rules to be happy

In short we can say that if I live by my deepest values, continuously each day, I will live a life of happiness and satisfaction. The problem is that besides our values, states that we value the most and strive intensely for in life, we also have rules for what needs to happen for us to be able to experience that state/value. This doesn't have to be a problem but, unconsciously, most of us make these rules really hard to achieve. We create a set of rules that makes it hard for us to continuously and easy experience the value or state we strive to achieve and therefore we live a life where we aren't fully satisfied or happy.

It is about what needs to happen so that I can, for example, experience health. An example of a common rule for the value health could be that I have to exercise 4 times a week and at least 45 minutes each time. Apart from that, I also need to eat healthy, nutritious and vitamin filled food that has been prepared with love and care. I also have to feel relaxed and calm and not stressed, every day, and I need to fill my mind with thoughts of nature and well being. We can see that achieving all this at once is possible but also really hard, in this case to look back on a week where I have exercised 4 times 45 minutes and every day eaten healthy food that was prepared with love at the same time as I never felt stressed and only had healthy thoughts in my mind. The last thing can sound absurd, but this is the way we often have created the programming of our nervous system, unconsciously. All this must happen, at the same time and all the time, for me to really experience my value.

Another example we have encountered is if I value wealth, to feel rich. What have to happen for me to feel rich? I can have a big set of rules; that I, for example, have to be completely debt free, have X amount of millions at a Swizz bank account, be able to buy whatever I like whenever I want to and never have a worried thought in my mind when it comes to money.

Markus: When I first came in to contact with this perspective, that we have rules of what needs to happen for us to experience our values, I realized (with a bit of help) that I had a jungle to get through before I allowed myself to experience my top values in life.

It was almost inhumanly difficult. I changed a large part of values on the top of my list so it's hard to give examples of how these rules changed for a specific value, but for the new values that ended up on top of my list I made the rules a lot, lot simpler to achieve. It almost seemed a bit ridiculous at first and being one that likes being challenged with difficult problems I protested a bit to the simplicity of the rules.

The difference after though is big in how relaxed I felt and how easy it is to feel satisfaction in life.

Make it simple to be happy

Make it simple to achieve your values. It's good to have tough, challenging goals in life that makes you strive, but don't place your values in the same category. Let your values be a support in life that gives you energy and joy.

When you have gone through your values and made them active, maybe thrown out a few old ones that no longer served a purpose, changed the priority of the ones you want to keep and maybe added a few new values that help you live the life you want to live. Then it's also time to create a new set of rules. Instead of four things that have to happen for you to experience health, make it a menu of opportunities. Make several easy achievable alternatives to achieve health, for example, if I drink a healthy juice I will experience health.

Imagine the difference, if your health was your most important value in life, and you instead for a week filled of activities only had to drink a glass of juice to feel that you live your life as you want to live it.
You will get several tips of how to do this is in the bottom of this article.

To question your values

How hard we hold on to our values depends on what they cost us in relationship to others. Can we stand up for our opinions when it for example is a question about being accepted or not by work colleagues or friends in our surrounding?

We are usually not open to try and experience our values, which makes us hold on to them hard and unwavering. If anyone questions them we feel threatened and hold on to them even harder. Since we don't try our values they often stand in opposite relationship to each other. This means that we can encounter a conflict of conscious with ourselves or our surrounding, which in turn can stop us from achieving the quality of life we wish to have.

Filippa: My first three values used to be:

1. Love
2. Believe in other people (both in them knowing better and the belief that people can grow).
3. Honesty and mostly to other people and not as much to myself.

This lead to that I rarely questioned others or found out what I really wanted. I was also scared of losing love or to not being able to give love. I had rules that made it difficult for me to receive love and I only gave love in situations where I felt safe in that I wouldn't get judged or laughed at for it.

When I chose my three new top values I wanted to keep that I believe every person's ability to grow but also my own ability to grow.

I realized that the quality of the love I gave or received would be better if I prioritized a few other things first, I placed love as number 10.

Instead the five first became:

- Belief (myself, people and God)
- Determination
- Awareness, intelligence, wisdom
- Courage
- Honesty

This change resulted in that I today believe more in myself and my ability to make good decisions; I'm safer now that I feel guided.

I listen to people but before I decide what to do with what I hear I get aware of how it feels in my stomach and through wisdom I know what it means and I have the courage to be honest to myself and others by saying what I really feel. It also becomes easier to show my love and I have the courage to receive love.

We can try and change our values in a process that contains:

  • Thinking – we provide ourselves with a broader thinking process and base for decisions.
  • Opening up – giving ourselves an opportunity to bring our values out in the light where they can be viewed and questioned.
  • Communication – to choose a surrounding where we openly can discuss our values and get feedback on values that can be questioned.

In conclusion

The values that we choose, or become aware of, will work as motivation for our behavior. When we choose to give priority to specific values we give weight and value to an aspect of life and that will affect how we meet our existence.

Homework assignment

For a few hours, close yourself, or with a group of people, in to a room. They need to be, just as you are, willing to in an open way reflect over themselves and wanting to make a change in their life.

  1. Which three values has been most important in your life up until now? Which state or feelings have you strived mostly after? Be honest to yourself. Make a list and prioritize the list so that the most important value ends up on the top.
  2. Start with the top value of the three and clarify the rules, which is; what needs to be done for you to be able to experience that state, that value?
  3. Clarify to yourself what you want to achieve in life and what kind of person you want to be. This can be a lifetime job, but your goal is not to create a detailed image but more a view over what you wish and who you want to be. Have fun with it and write down a few words that catch the essence of it.
  4. Go over your three top values. Will any of them need to be removed to easier achieve the life you want and be the one you want to be? Does a new value need to be added instead? Do you need to change the order of priorities?
  5. When you are happy with your new list of the three top values it is time to create new rules. Make a menu of alternative possibilities to experience your top values. Remember to make it easy to achieve them. Keep the part of you that like challenges away for this.

Above is just a taste of what you can do to work with your values and the fundamental difference this can make in a person's life. On our seminars we are working more extensively with this aspect of ourselves.

Couple with laptop studying relationships