Knowing Yourself is the Beginning of All Wisdom: A Spiritual Endeavour to Discover Your Core Values
Discovering and understanding your core values can be a truly liberating, life-changing, and surprisingly peaceful spiritual endeavour.
Where to start?
Why, just why should I tie myself to a certain way of being, you might be asking yourself. Is not the true essence of our nature tied to our freedom, curiosity and continuous growth? How do core values allow for our ever-evolving needs and wants? And why should one care to invest the one sacred asset we possess, time, into discovering our core values?
All of the above are fair questions which we will most definitely come to, but first, did you ever hear about the girl who cried wolf? We have all heard about the boy who cried wolf but what about the girl who cried wolf? She seems to be a forgotten fallacy destined to resign to a life spent in solitude never to be seen or heard. All shall be revealed…
What are core values?
Core values are powerful markers that define who we are deep down within our core, the underbelly of our supposedly conscious choices, the foundation of the iceberg that cannot be seen from sea level but is acutely apparent upon contact, as the late great Titanic found out in 1912. The reality is, whether we define our core values by choice or not, we all have them and they come to light at crucial moments for everybody to see. So if we already have core values by default, why do we need to know what they are?
Why is it important to discover your core values?
While it may be true that we all follow a set of values to some extent, the question we need to ask ourselves is where these values really come from? And thus, are they really ours? The truth is, as we walk through life we all pick up new identities and this starts from our childhood when we watch and learn from our parents. Then we enter new environments which are forced upon us and unknowingly take influence from our friends, teachers, trending celebrities and of course, cultural norms at any given time. All of these interactions shape who we become to a certain extent which begs the question, how much of you is really you? In reality, much of the “self” we identify with is merely a collection of our experiences and we are all essentially products of our environment. We can accept and embrace this and yet, at the same time, we can also take action and redefine who we are at any time in our lives. We can change in an instant, with the click of a finger, a simple decision, although this is not always necessary of course. Quite often who we are is just fine and the issue lies with our inability to truly know oneself which causes confusion, inconsistency and at worst, suffering. This is where a value system can support. While it is important not to take any self-analysis too seriously as identifying too deeply with oneself can lead to suffering in itself as the Buddha teaches since self-identity is often an illusion. However having a baseline set of core values that you are comfortable with can be truly liberating, life-changing and surprisingly peaceful. Once you have properly thought out your core values, this cluster of meaningful words can be seen as your guiding North Star, your go-to whenever you have a difficult decision to make in life. This level of knowing oneself and embracing your true nature gives you incredible power best thought of as an invisible force field surrounding you which others can sense, trusting you as a consistent and stable being. The right people will be instantly drawn to you.
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is surely the greatest accomplishment of all.
6 Steps to Discover Your Spiritual Endeavour: Knowing Yourself is the Beginning of All Wisdom
Step 1: Spend time alone in nature.
Leave the headphones behind, don’t text, just be. Take pen and paper and journal thoughts. The more time you can carve out to be alone in nature, the better as the clarity that is available from this spiritual endeavour is unmatched in our opinion.
Mindbodygreen has a fantastic source on the importance of nature. Read HERE
Step 2: Write your own obituary!
This might sound bleak and slightly eerie however we are going to die, that is the one thing we can be sure of. Remembering this regularly can be a powerful call to action to live our best lives. Find a quiet space, take pen and paper and write down what you would want your obituary to say. Not what it would say today, but what do you want it to say when you are 80.
Start with whether you have a partner, kids, etc.
Then what do you want to be known for? Don’t make this about your job, but make it about you as a person.
Were you kind, loving, did you contribute to society?
This is not to be completed in one sitting therefore you should not put time restrictions on this kind of exercise. Write version 1, then let it sit. Going back to it regularly will force your subconscious to think about it in the background and will force the understanding you want.
Read More about the importance of beginning with the end in mind
Step 3: Shortlist your inspirations
Think about all of the people who inspire you deeply. It does and should not always be a celebrity. This could be your parents, your friend or maybe somebody you have never met before. What do they have in common? Why do you admire them so deeply? Can you draw on some overlapping values that they clearly possess?
Better yet, talk to these people. Asking someone to be your mentor is an incredible honour and believe it or not, people love to help. So don’t shy away from asking them.
Read more on the topic of mentorship HERE
Step 4: Meditate.
Up until not long ago, meditation was still seen as some esoteric and weird ritual in the western world. To our joy, times have moved on for the benefit of us all. There are a multitude of apps out there to get you started, Headspace being the most widely adopted although our personal favourite is The Waking Up App, developed by neuroscientist Sam Harris.
The Waking up App is designed to open the door to a deeper understanding of yourself using ancient wisdom tested by modern science and combines daily meditations with practical theory work.
Only when you sit with your thoughts do you give yourself a chance to get to know yourself. Life is full of distractions and you must not consume external noise all the time!
Step 5: Write.
Meditation forces you to sit with your thoughts…writing forces you to wrestle with them. After you have done all the work of listening to your inner voice and understanding who you are, now write about it. Writing online in particular has been proven to be one of the best forms of therapy out there. You express your thoughts, you share them with the world and let the world answer.
It is the forcing function to truly find the person that is waiting to be revealed.
Writing online can truly help crystallise who you are and aside from the metal clarity it promises, your friends and family deserve nothing but the best version of you.
You could even try a creative writing course HERE
Step 6: Play a game
If the above tools just aren’t working for you, fear not, play a game! As mentioned above, self-analysis should never be taken too seriously and this approach can take a lot of the complication out of the process of living a value-based life.
This Hotter/Colder approach is essentially a card sorting game based on the research of social psychologist, Shalom H. Schwartz, who pioneered the Theory of Basic Human Values. You can only hold a certain number of cards at any given time, you can swap cards with other players or pick new ones from the deck, each time trading your current set of cards based on your ranking of perceived importance. Your remaining hand are your personal values.
See here some free and paid games related to discovering your personal values.
So what happened to the girl who cried wolf? Well, nothing of course! She was not eaten and lived a happy and peaceful life which is why you have never heard of her. The girl who cried wolf only did so once when she was truly in danger.
Amongst the constant distractions in our daily lives, I hope you manage to find some space to carve out what is most important to you so that you can be sure to live a value-based life….if for nothing else, to ensure you are not eaten by the wolf (metaphorically speaking of course).
Now you have the tools needed to explore your own value system…next comes the journey of living with your core values. More on that for another day.
Love & Blessings…hygëia
The values of hygëia
Change maker – We believe all individuals have the power to make positive change in the world by focusing on our daily actions
Mindful Yogi – We focus on the here and now to make every moment a chance to elevate our experience
Godlike Minimalist – We believe strongly in quality over quantity. Our possessions are premium and last forever
Self Expression – Be free and think critically. Never be afraid to be your true unique self
Kindness – A simple way to tell another struggling soul that there is love to be found. Every living being on earth deserves our kindness