Have You Explored Your Values

Each summer session I teach a class in the School of Health and Rehab Science at Pitt on Human Relations.  The course is actually titled, "Human Relations in the Health Care Environment," but I make the course about human relations in a general sense.  I don't think that our ways of relating should change that much regardless of the setting and the students seem to be good with this approach.

In the first segment of the course we focus in on knowing ourselves better and I use a variety of exercises and activities designed to reveal a bit more about us.  One such exercise is a "values clarification" activity designed to push the respondent to think about the important things they value in life (and in others).  I found this exercise in a great book by Peter Senge titled, "The Dance of Change."

The exercise lists out 60 unique values in 3 columns and prompts the respondent to check off their top 10 most important items.  Then it pushes us to whittle those down to 5; then 3, and finally to identify the top value.  It is a hard exercise because the values all seem important.  Of course, this blog is too short to list all 60 items, but here is a sample:  Achievement, Affection, Close Relationships, Democracy, Freedom, Friendship, Having a Family, Helping Society, Honesty, Knowledge, Loyalty, Religion, Self-respect, Truth, Wisdom and the like - 60 in total!

Now I don't know the last time you thought about the values you hold dear, but I know that the students (all juniors and seniors) tell me that they don't routinely reflect on values.  Although our values are essential to important relationships we don't think deeply about them.

After the students finish the exercise, I compile the collective items and have been doing this over the last 10 years or so and just recently looked and compared their responses and found some interesting trends.  Now, I don't know what this actually reveals about the values of college students, but let me share the collective top 3 values over the last 5 years:

2014 - 1. Achievement, 2. Personal Development, 3. Affection

2015 - 1. Affection, 2. Close Relationships, 3. Self-respect

2016 - 1. Having a Family, 2. Affection, 3. Religion

2017 - 1. Honesty, 2. Having a Family, 3. Affection

2018 - 1. Having a Family, 2. Quality Relationships, 3. Helping Others

So, the next time you have a spare minute, think about the things you value.  More, work toward making these values happen in your life.