“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.”  -Ayn Rand

Do you know what’s really important to you? What you value most in life?

I’d say that most people I meet haven’t spent much time on this question. They tell me they’re too busy coping with the busyness of life to stop and think about something as intangible as their personal values. Or they spout common phrases like “traditional family values” or “strong work ethic” without really considering what those phrases mean. (As Lewis Black notes, “Everybody’s family has different values.”)

Dr. Matt JamesDr. Matt James is President of The Empowerment Partnership, where he serves as a master trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), a practical behavioral technology for helping people achieve their desired results in life. Dr. Matt delivers seminars and cultural trainings throughout the United States, Canada, Asia, and Europe. Due to his expertise on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), indigenous cultures, and his research on forgiveness, Dr. Matt is a regular contributor at The Huffington Post(link is external) andPsychology Today blogs
Editor: Nadeem Pasha

Becoming crystal clear on what is really important to you is the key to leading a happy, fulfilling life. Why? Here a few reasons:

Values make decisions easy.

Indecision and confusion is often the result of not knowing the relative importance of things you want. For example, say you’re trying to decide whether to take that new position where you’ll need to work 60 hour weeks. If your highest value is spending time with your family, that’s clearly not your best option. If you valuecareer achievement above all else, it may be a wise move.


Watch a video of Dr Sadaqat Ali on the topic of love and relationships

Values help us through the crisis.

When the stuff hits the fan, many people panic and shift into survival mode. But when your values are clear, they act as a guide and steadying hand. For instance, think of couples during divorce. Those who keep their values at the forefront—whether it’s being good parents to their kids or being kind to one another—have a much smoother process. Those who forget who and what they are often end up in bitter battles, realizing only later that what they fought for really didn’t matter.

Values keep us on track.

When we’re clear on our values, we’re more likely to act in ways that serve our highest good. I may feel tempted by a triple scoop of Jamaican Almond Fudge on top of an 8 oz. double chocolate brownie. But if I’m consciously clear that I value my health, I’ll probably pass. I may want to flip off the guy who just swerved in front of me in traffic, but if I value being a good example to the toddler in the back seat, I’ll keep my hand gesture to myself.