Skip to 0 minutes and 4 secondsRICHARD CHAMBERS: Practising mindfulness helps us get in touch with deeper parts of ourselves. When we're caught up in the busyness of day-to-day life and rushing through what we're doing or caught up in reactivity, it's very hard to be in touch with our values and to know what's important. But when we start to slow down a little bit and tune in, we've got a much better chance of being able to do that. Values provide a direction for us to head in. And they're a little bit different to goals. So you can think about values like the direction and goals like steps along the way. So what I mean by that is, we might value connectedness or relationships.

Skip to 0 minutes and 39 secondsAnd so certain goals might be to meet a partner and get married or to care for the person who lives next door. Or perhaps at work, we might value success-- so getting a promotion or doing well in some project might be a goal along the way. Or if we value learning, getting a university degree, finishing school-- they could be goals that are in the service of those values. So mindfulness helps us to just stop and think about what our values are. We might just tune in and start to wonder, what is it that I value in life? What inspires me? What do I want my life to be about?

Skip to 1 minute and 18 secondsAnd even sitting down for a time and really reflecting on that and writing that down, can be a very useful thing to do. We can also get a felt sense of our values too. And what I mean by that is, if we have made that list of values, and then we stop and really think about what it means in our life to be more adventurous or more caring or more connected, some of those values are going to feel inspiring or motivating or enlivening for us. And if we're paying attention to our body, we can also start to notice that when we are in line with our values, that can feel very enlivening and exciting.

Skip to 1 minute and 51 secondsWe get that felt sense that, yeah. This is what I want my life to be about. And so while values are very personal and individual, and there's no right or wrong set of values, it's very much about tuning in and knowing what's right for us. There are some very common values that seem to show up time and time again in the wisdom traditions. And they come mostly from sensing our interconnectedness with others. When we really tune to ourselves, we notice that the qualities that we have, the experiences that we have, this crazy mind of ours, the distraction, the stress-- it's all just part of being human. And it's actually what makes us just part of the human race.

Skip to 2 minutes and 27 secondsAnd so we naturally start to become more loving and compassionate and altruistic as well-- so these very core common values that show up.

Mindful values

Watch Richard discuss the concept of mindful values, and explore how mindfulness can help us to connect with our values and discover what’s important.

Identifying our core values

In the video, Richard helps identify the difference between values and goals and how these two constructs can interact to guide our decisions and behaviour.

As we uncover our core values, it can be helpful for us to adopt a ‘beginner’s mind’ and to be really curious about what may come up for us as we venture into this exploration.

Some additional questions that may support you to identify your core values are:

  • What do I stand for and what kind of person do I want to be?
  • What times in my life was I most fulfilled or satisfied, how and why did this experience give my life meaning?
  • What was a defining moment in my life where it was clear to me what really mattered?

As Richard explains, mindfulness can help us to quieten and really listen to our core values. This supports us to shape a more satisfying and possibly ultimately happier life for ourselves.

Find out more

If you have not thought about your values much before, you might be interested in exploring the Six Principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy article, which contains a section on values clarification which you may find useful. You may also be interested in browsing the Values exercises for help with determining your core values. We hope you find them useful.

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This video is from the free online course:

Maintaining a Mindful Life

Monash University