The best kind of conversations are had at the dinner table, or perhaps the best kind of meals are those that involve good conversation.
As we tucked into summer rolls, I asked my friend how she felt about having just turned 27. She had come to a realisation she said, about decisions. How she recognised that people make decisions that are underpinned by one of two things; love or fear. That a decision can only be taken based on one or the other but that the source of love or fear is specific to a person. I agreed. As we talked through what we thought our source of love or source of fear is when we make decisions, the discussion bought a strong sense of self awareness; of our motivations, our drivers, our vulnerabilities and perhaps most importantly, where our values lie.
I have always understood values to be significant. I know that they can provide a sense of direction for a person, act as a moral compass and drive a set of principles that a person then aims to live by. I am only beginning to realise though, that values are not all encompassing. They vary in depth and breadth, they vary in priority that is given to them by an individual and the very definitions of what a particular value set represents is dependent on the individual interpreting them in the practice of their lives.
I will use the example of my friend (having completely made up her job and interests for the sake of privacy). She is a nursery worker who also loves candidly painting people. She loves working with children because they often present as themselves and are not hesitant in expressing their true selves. She loves creating art because she feels like she is capturing an authentic aspect of people, their raw selves when they are not on guard. When she reflected on this and what it meant, she realised that what she values from these interactions is the raw and genuine value of honesty. She found that truth and honesty is an important value to her.
What this conversation bought about was a manifestation of what values we actually prioritise and how it comes through in decision making. I think it is helpful to reflect on this, particularly to gauge what value set you hold most dear. This can vary according to time, place and person, of course. I really believe that when key decisions are made or when a situation or concept doesn’t quite sit right with you, it is often because a value you prioritise is either mis-aligned with an aspect of your lifestyle or has manifested itself in such a way, it becomes clear that this is an important thing to you-and that you should respond accordingly. I don’t think that one value necessarily surpasses another, but I do think that we should nurture the values that come most naturally to us, and that is in understanding what drives our actions, beliefs and thought processes.