Q: …otherwise, how would a country that went to war against infringement on human rights and freedom still engage in slavery after that for hundreds of years? This hypocrisy speaks to the considerable influence of personal values on national values

“We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal and independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;…”

From this 1776 declaration of independence by the United States of America, one can easily deduce their national values to be Family (preservation of life), Freedom (liberty), and Comfort (pursuit of happiness), which still hold today. Even though I cannot quote where the United Kingdom’s national values are from, I can easily describe them in three words: Community, Conservatism, and Heritage based on perception.

Last week, I hinted at the importance of national and personal values, especially for identity and nation-building for our youth. So, eliciting values from our national document, I turned to our anthem, where I found the following: Freedom (a nation united in peaceful co-existence will surely be free); Success (to attain lofty heights); Service (to the fatherland, labour of past heroes and serving with heart and might), Honesty, Truth, Justice, and Unity.

Even though leaders try to state what their national values are or should be, people easily identify what indeed obtain based on experiences, encounters, and outlooks. Which means written or acclaimed values are not always the accurate representation of a national value; otherwise, how would a country that went to war against infringement on human rights and freedom still engage in slavery after that for hundreds of years? This hypocrisy speaks to the considerable influence of personal values on national values.

As crucial as national values are, they are often determined, shaped, or sometimes changed by collective personal values, making personal values the bedrock of national values just as perceived values often override even written ones. Suppose values are life attributes that aid quality of life. In that case, they can be a single or a combination of words such as Honesty, Perseverance, Well-being, or Humility/Love/Future Generations, as highlighted above.

Value is not an end but a means to an end, therefor our ability to live these values to the fullest, even in adversity, needs to be appreciated the most. By so doing, we would have successfully aligned our values with our actions, simply what Spiritual Well-being is all about. Spiritual well-being, a dimension of wellness, serves as the first of the eight pillars that ensure balance in the human body, mind, and soul.

Having created the S-A-I-L Quadrant, a toolkit used in analyzing personal wellness status scores, I often start client’s assessment with “Do your values always align with your goals?” This question becomes necessary because whenever or wherever there is a compromise, we have managed to create an imbalance that often offsets us, no matter how strong we appear to be.

The ability to establish peace and harmony in life, develop typical relationships with values and actions, and draw comfort and support from one’s faith characterize our spiritual well-being, among others. Doing these sets us on the path of AUTHENTIC LIVING, the goal.

Ironically, most of us often hinder attaining this goal by desiring to please people at the detriment of our inner peace and harmony. Honoring one’s value is not as easy as discussed here, especially when it usually takes a lifetime of practice. However, would you rather have a lifetime not standing for something, thereby falling for anything or everything?

Our values act as a compass, providing guidance and direction to lead a good life. The impact is evident in how we feel whenever we honour our values. A burst of good feelings rushes through us, with the reverse being the case whenever we are conflicted. Whenever our values do not align with others, be it individuals or organizations, we often feel trapped, less productive, overwhelmed, frustrated, upset, or annoyed.

Identifying and understanding how our values are similar or different from those we live, work, or share public space with can help prevent identity crises that sometimes lead to depression. Also, the deliberate act of aligning similar values or finding common grounds with differing ones can help one become a strong leader through lessons learned on handling difficult situations or people.

So, the first step in the right direction is to pick at least three values that jump right at or fully describe you from the list below. Feel free to add more.

List of values

Accountability Environment Independence Recognition Curiosity Achievement Efficiency Initiative Reliability Power Adaptability Equality Integrity Resourcefulness Pride Adventure Ethics Intuition Respect Dignity Ambition Job security Responsibility Vision Perseverance Mutual respect Excellence Joy Risk-taking Humility Wisdom Charity Wealth Well-being Uniqueness Fairness Justice Safety Hard Work Inclusion Balance Faith Kindness Security Usefulness Beauty Family Knowledge Self-discipline Humor Being the best Financial Stability Leadership Self-expression Equity Belonging Learning Self-respect Creativity Truth Career Freedom Legacy Serenity Comfort Caring Friendship Leisure Service Collaboration Fun Love Simplicity Commitment Hope Loyalty Spirituality Community Generosity Making Impact Sportsmanship Compassion Giving back Nature Stewardship Competence Personal Fulfilment Openness Success Confidence Gratitude Optimism Teamwork Connection Growth Order Understanding Contentment Harmony Parenting Time Contribution Health Patience Tradition Cooperation Home Patriotism Travel Courage Honesty Peace Trust.
Olayinka, a health and wellness expert, writes from Lagos