24 Core Life Values


Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi said “Gentlemen, we will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence.”  Chasing perfection may seem over the top, but a mindset of continually taking modest steps that move us to where we want to be, pays off over time.

The truth is, the simple act of attempting to live good values will elevate our spirit and, over time, improve our lives.  We all carry within us the sum of an imperfect life experience – living good values is not easy, everyone falls short.

There are important elements not covered in our list of values below.  A life balanced with love and spirituality enables us to live good values.  If, over time, we intentionally live a good value system, love and spirituality can thrive within us.  Health, not discussed below, is clearly one of the largest blessings in life.

One more omission – The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Every significant religion and culture embraces the Golden Rule.  It’s a timeless, universal value.

For those of us who may think it too late – it’s never too late.  There are no guarantees, but this is as close as it gets – the moment we attempt to live good values is the moment our lives improve.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”  C.S. Lewis

Values:  Foundational, Internal


Courage may be the most critical value we can build in ourselves and develop in our children.  Courage is needed to live an intentional life.  Without a measure of courage it’s difficult to give trust, to be honest, to give respect, to be responsible, to believe in ourselves.

We’ve all heard about having “the strength of one’s convictions.”  To act according to, and not compromise, our values (regardless of the outcome and especially where there is a potential for uncomfortable outcomes) requires courage.  Courage is fundamental to living our values.

The opposite of courage is fear and fear, the brakes of life, erodes spirit.  Living a good value system will elevate courage which, in turn, should add depth to your value system.  A virtuous circle is the reward. 

Be bold!  Have a spirt of adventure!  Live life to its fullest!

You will never do anything in this world without courage.  It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor | Aristotle

One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest | Maya Angelou

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are | EE Cummings

Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity | W. Clement Stone

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts | Winston Churchill

Similar/related values:

Adventure ◦ Aggressiveness ◦ Assertiveness ◦ Audacity ◦ Boldness ◦ Bravery ◦ Confidence ◦ Daring ◦ Exploration ◦ Extroversion ◦ Fearlessness ◦ Flexibility ◦ Fortitude ◦ Gallantry ◦ Heart ◦ Heroism ◦ Nerve ◦ Spunk ◦ Strength ◦ Valor


The willingness take responsibility for ourselves and others is imperative for each of us and a critical value to instill in our children.  Being responsible is essential if we are to live up to our potential; having satisfying relationships and live fulfilling lives.  We cannot succeed in life if we do not take our responsibilities seriously.

Practice making and keeping promises — to yourself and to others. The freedom we cherish requires that we are responsible for ourselves and to others.  When we fail to take our responsibilities seriously, others have no reason to take us seriously; the knock-on effects can be seriously damaging.  Take responsibility for yourself and for the commitments you make to others.

You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of | Jim Rohn

The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up | John C. Maxwell

If you take responsibility for yourself you will develop a hunger to accomplish your dreams | Les Brown

I believe that we all have a responsibility to give back. No one becomes successful without lots of hard work, support from others, and a little luck. Giving back creates a virtuous cycle that makes everyone more successful | Ron Conway

Similar/related values:

Accountability ◦ Reliability ◦ Care ◦ Dynamism ◦ Investing ◦ Independence ◦ Self-reliance ◦ Temperance


Discipline first requires that we take our responsibilities seriously.   If we don’t take our responsibilities seriously it’s not possible to be motivated enough to take a disciplined approach to life.   It takes discipline to deliver on our responsibilities.

Discipline means that we walk the talk.  We deliver on promises.  We all fall short at times, so be it.  That said, a bias toward a more disciplined approach to day-to-day living provides the foundation for resilience, our next value.  The more disciplined your approach, the more self-assurance and inner strength you will develop – resilience.

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. It may not be difficult to store up in the mind a vast quantity of facts within a comparatively short time, but the ability to form judgments requires the severe discipline of hard work and the tempering heat of experience and maturity | Calvin Coolidge

Work hard. Through determination and self-focus and discipline, you can accomplish anything | Kimberly Guilfoyle

Self-respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself | Abraham Joshua Heschel

The biggest challenge is to stay focused. It’s to have the discipline when there are so many competing things | Alexa Hirschfeld

Success is not a matter of mastering subtle, sophisticated theory but rather of embracing common sense with uncommon levels of discipline and persistence | Patrick Lencioni

Similar/related values:

Focus ◦ Self-control ◦ Self-regulation ◦ Restraint


The root of resilience is courage and an understanding of and belief in oneself, coupled with a belief in something larger than ourselves.  Resiliency, or the lack thereof, can be pivotal in our lives.  Setbacks and change are a reality of every life.  Who cannot identify personal setbacks and obstacles we’ve overcome?

Resilience requires accepting loss, setbacks or changes while continuing to persevere.  Choose fight over flight.  Resist the urge to say “I can’t do it.”  Figure out how you will get to where you need to go.   View yourself as a fighter, never a victim.

Resilience uses energy productively.  We emerge from adversity stronger than before.   It’s as much about staying focused as it is an attitude.  The more we live good values, the more resilience evolves within.  Winners never quit, quitters never win.

Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems | Gever Tulley

Obstacles, of course, are developmentally necessary: they teach kids strategy, patience, critical thinking, resilience and resourcefulness | Naomi Wolf

In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, to struggle together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life | Albert Bandura

The moment we believe that success is determined by an ingrained level of ability as opposed to resilience and hard work, we will be brittle in the face of adversity | Joshua Waitzkin

Similar/related values:

Determination ◦ Perseverance ◦ Adaptability ◦ Buoyancy ◦ Continuity ◦ Diligence ◦ Endurance ◦ Energy ◦ Intensity ◦ Persistence ◦ Resolution ◦ Resolve ◦ Tenacity ◦ Vivacity ◦ Willfulness ◦ Resourcefulness ◦ Ingenuity ◦ Hard Work ◦ Industry


To be aware requires that we live in the moment. Spending less time preoccupied with the past and less time worrying about the future.  It’s important to live in the moment if we are to reach our potential.

If character is revealed by how we respond to situations, it’s a good idea to be aware.  We need to live with an aware mind, to be fully engaged in each moment, to catch the subtleties in communication.  Active listening, critical reading, clear perception, self-awareness and self-regulation all require awareness.

If we’re not aware, we will fail to hear what people are trying to say to us and will not fully comprehend what we read, we will fail to notice important details, we will turn people off and we will not pay attention to what our gut tells us.  The fallout from these failures often results in repeated setbacks (known and unknown).

Look at nature.  Take a few moments to watch everyday animals like birds and squirrel.  We can see that, at all times, those critters are incredibly alert, incredibly aware.  For them it’s a survival thing, but it’s amazing to realize how much more moment-to-moment aware they are than we are.  To some extent, we can all be more moment-to-moment aware.

Awareness is the first step in healing | Dean Ornish

Awareness is the greatest agent for change | Eckhart Tolle

Wisdom tends to grow in proportion to one’s awareness of one’s ignorance | Anthony de Mello

The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival | Aristotle

Opportunities present themselves every day – to everyone. You just have to be alert and ready to act | Marc Ostrofsky

Civilization exists precisely so that there may be no masses but rather men alert enough never to constitute masses | Georges Bernanos

Similar/related values:

Attentiveness ◦ Alertness ◦ Consciousness ◦ Keenness ◦ Sensitivity


Temperance (moderation) is one of the Four Cardinal Virtues dating back to antiquity.  While moderation is about self-control, it goes well beyond the typical drinking and eating contexts.

Moderation extends to restraint in action, thought and feeling.  Restraint from violence, craving, arrogance and the excesses of life.  Moderation includes character strengths of forgiveness, humility and wisdom.

Without moderation is easy to lose ourselves in seeking the next high, the next pleasure, the next … anything.  Moderation keeps us balanced and alert.

Moderation helps us maintain a day-to-day presence that ensures we remain plugged in to reality.  If we choose to not ride emotional roller coasters, if we choose to not get too high or too low we are less likely to get caught up in self-absorption, leading to a fuller life.

Don’t get caught up in trying to live some social image concocted by the external world.  The modern world bombards us with stimulants of every imaginable kind.  Social apps work to addict our children.  It takes courage to go your own road – your life will be better for it.

If one oversteps the bounds of moderation, the greatest pleasures cease to please | Epictetus

Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice | Thomas Paine

Exactness and neatness in moderation is a virtue, but carried to extremes narrows the mind | Francois Fenelon

Moderation is a virtue only in those who are thought to have an alternative | Henry A. Kissinger

No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously | Dave Barry

Similar/related values:

Temperance ◦ Restraint ◦ Balance ◦ Austerity ◦ Discretion


Typically, initiative is associated with the workplace.  However, taking initiative is vital in our personal lives and in how we raise our children.  It also ties to other values.

Awareness requires that we are alert. We then need to have the courage to take the initiative in dealing with life’s issues before they become chronic.  You could consider initiative as the means to being a chess player rather than a chess piece.  To achieve in life, we must learn to take the initiative.  Always.

Initiative is to success what a lighted match is to a candle.”  Orlando Aloysius Battista

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door | Milton Berle

One has to take initiative in life to achieve what he or she wants | Donald Johanson

Hold up a mirror and ask yourself what you are capable of doing, and what you really care about. Then take the initiative – don’t wait for someone else to ask you to act | Sylvia Earle

You cannot build character and courage by destroying men’s initiative and independence | William J. H. Boetcker

Similar/related values:

Drive ◦ Ambition ◦ Enterprise

Efficiency & Effectiveness

Most confuse efficiency with speed.  Efficiency is about getting important things done more quickly, but not necessarily by being speedier.

Effectiveness is about doing the right things (first). Efficiency is about doing things right.  Determine what truly is most important, what will have the most impact.  Focus on the most important, let go of the unimportant.  Don’t jump over dollars to pick up nickels.

It’s more efficient to deal with issues as they emerge versus letting them evolve into problems. It’s more efficient to do things right the first time, then having to do the same thing more than once.  Being efficient makes everything we do more satisfying and less time consuming – freeing time to pursue our passions.  Living efficiently is an intentional act that, over time, makes us more effective in everything we do.

We want the spirit of America to be efficient; we want American character to be efficient; we want American character to display itself in what I may, perhaps, be allowed to call spiritual efficiency – clear disinterested thinking and fearless action | Woodrow Wilson

Consumer accountability drives quality and efficiency | Pete Hoekstra

Nature is not concerned about fairness, it only interested in efficiency | Amish Tripathi

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all | Peter Drucker

Similar/related values:

Effectiveness ◦ Adeptness ◦ Competence ◦ Productivity


Optimism is huge.  Optimism trusts that regardless of the circumstance; you will find a way to get to a positive outcome.  Optimism encourages action in whatever we take on, including living a value system.

Without optimism, courage is elusive; taking responsibility, being disciplined and taking the initiative will seem pointless.  Optimism nourishes hope which nourishes resilience.  Optimism is foundational to a healthy mind, body and spirit.  Optimism makes us smarter, more creative, enhances reasoning skills and improves focus and self-esteem.

Optimism requires that we be self-aware.  We need to be alert to become self-aware. When negativity invades our mind, put an embargo on that useless, destructive negativity.

Trying and succeeding at new things, no matter how small, fuels optimism.  Helping our children get to positive results, when the stakes are relatively small, helps them develop an optimistic spirit.  You cannot identify one pessimist who is successful and happy in life.  The past has passed — always; focus on creating your future.

Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress | Nicholas M. Butler

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty | Winston Churchill

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails | William Arthur Ward

Optimism is a happiness magnet. If you stay positive, good things and good people will be drawn to you | Mary Lou Retton

Similar/related values:

Hopefulness ◦ Positivity ◦ Sanguinity


Curiosity sparks progress.  Curiosity is the seed of creativity, innovation and human development.  Curiosity opens and activates our mind, which with practice, heightens focus, sharpens perception, improves clarity and enhances awareness.  Curiosity cultivates a vigorous intellect.  And hey, being curious is good fun.

Keep an open mind – we can read things we wouldn’t normally read, we can pursue experiences we wouldn’t normally pursue, we can embrace uncertainty and be playful.  The status quo can be improved upon, always.

To be interesting, you have to be interested – in other people, in other perspectives, in what makes things tick.  Resist calling anything boring.  Odds are it’s only boring because we’re not getting it.

Children are masters of learning because everything is a curiosity.  As adults, we can expose our minds to new things to continue learning and developing.  The familiar seems secure until we get steamrolled by change we didn’t see coming … because we stopped being curious.  There is evidence that curiosity is correlated with improved health and adds meaning to life.

Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect | Samuel Johnson

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity | Albert Einstein

Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people | Leo Burnett

Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas | Marie Curie

Let your curiosity be greater than your fear | Pema Chodron

Similar/related values:

Open-mindedness ◦ Innovation ◦ Imagination ◦ Creativity ◦ Anticipation ◦ Fascination ◦ Inquisitiveness


A complete education benefits the individual and society.  Exposure to and working with complex concepts when young provides a foundation for life-long learning.  Education improves how people view, exist in and participate in society.

A complete education is essential to maintaining freedom in a society and to critically evaluating the highly spun messaging we’re exposed to on a daily basis.

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it | Aristotle

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled | Plutarch

Knowledge will bring you the opportunity to make a difference | Claire Fagin

It must be remembered that the purpose of education is not to fill the minds of students with facts… it is to teach them to think | Robert M. Hutchins

We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought | Bertrand Russell

Similar/related values:

Knowledge ◦Learning

Values: Foundational, Healthy Relationships


Authenticity is a prerequisite to healthy relationships.  Great relationships are based on authentic trust, honesty, and respect. If we’re not authentic we will have our own trust issues, are not being honest, and we most likely will not give or get genuine respect.

Be yourself – that’s the best version of you anyway.  Real people like real people and are turned off by phony relationships. Besides, how can anyone like YOU if you are not you!

The other side of authenticity is listening to what your gut tells you when you make decisions.  We can get ourselves into bad situations and diminish ourselves when we choose to not listen to our gut instinct.  If you live contrary to good values, your gut instinct will eventually become lost in assorted distortions.

Be as authentic as you can be, always.

I have more respect for a man who lets me know where he stands, even if he’s wrong, than the one who comes up like an angel and is nothing but a devil | Malcolm X

When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you | Lao Tzu

Similar/related values:

Genuineness ◦ Being yourself ◦ Being real ◦ Instinctive ◦ Genuine


Trust is essential for healthy relationships.  Trust is usually hard earned and easily lost.  You must first ensure that YOU are worthy of trust.  Being trustworthy means that others can count on your words and actions, whether they are or are not there with you. Being worthy of trust makes you reliable, which is highly valued in any relationship.

Life is a lot easier when we proceed from trust.  Give everyone an immediate measure of trust and expect that they give you a measure of trust. Self respect demands that you expect your relationships will be worthy of your trust.

Trust must be reciprocal to develop meaningful relationships.

Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships | Stephen Covey

A team is not a group of people that work together. A team is a group of people that trust each other | Simon Sinek

Trust is built on telling the truth, not telling people what they want to hear | Simon Sinek

Trust is the easiest thing in the world to lose, and the hardest thing in the world to get back | R. M. Williams

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them | Ernest Hemingway

Similar/related values:

Trustworthiness ◦ Reliability ◦ Consistency


If we cannot be honest, trust will be squandered.  By degree, dishonesty leads to compromised relationships.  One of the basic values we learn as children, honesty impacts all elements of our lives.

Being honest requires courage, which is one of the reasons we chose courage as our first value.  Being honest makes us reliable and practicing honesty builds resiliency.

We tell ourselves that white lies are okay, but really they’re not.  White lies are really a way to (temporarily) avoid uncomfortable or troublesome outcomes.  They kick the can down the road.  The truth eventually comes out.  Then what?

Strive to find ways to communicate where, if you cannot be direct, you are at least are sincere and are not lying.

Honesty is a gift we give others.  We can give everyone an immediate measure of honesty and expect them to be honest with us.

Honesty has to be reciprocal to build trust.  Lead by example.

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom | Thomas Jefferson

Honest communication is built on truth and integrity and upon respect of the one for the other | Benjamin E. Mays

Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either | Albert Einstein

If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it | Marcus Aurelius

If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything | Mark Twain

Similar/related values:

Accuracy ◦ Acknowledgment ◦ Candor (Complete honesty) ◦ Directness ◦ Frankness ◦ Realism ◦ Truth ◦ Simplicity ◦ Sincerity


Respect fuels all values.  Only if we have genuine respect for ourselves and for others, will we find the discipline to be reliable, to become resilient, to be alert to others needs and to take the initiative to see things through.

If we do not respect others, there will be no need to be authentic, there will be no commitment to giving trust or to being trustworthy and there will be no desire to be honest or humble

Consider the importance of self-respect.  When we lack self-respect, we are more likely to engage in self-destructive behaviors.  That path leads to feelings of regret, guilt, blame – never-ending internal conflict.  Steer clear.  We need to learn to accept ourselves.  Take pride in who you are; know you have value.

We can focus on developing the good in us rather than fixating on our negatives which leads to self-sabotage.  It’s not easy but nothing worthwhile is easy.

People will give us as much respect as we give ourselves.  Give everyone an immediate measure of respect and expect them to respect you in return.  When we come upon fools, it’s difficult to give respect, but we can have the humility to understand that, at times, we’ve all played the fool.

In relationships, to build trust, respect has to be reciprocal.  Respect is foundational to loyalty, our next value.

Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners | Laurence Sterne

The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life | Richard Bach

Give the respect you want to receive; embody the grace you hope to encounter; and help others with no expectations whatsoever | Cory Booker

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel | Maya Angelou

Similar/related values:

Acceptance ◦ Appreciation ◦ Approachability ◦ Availability ◦ Chastity ◦ Consideration ◦ Civility ◦ Decorum ◦ Decency ◦ Diversity ◦ Gentility ◦ Grace ◦ Gratitude ◦ Honor ◦ Humility ◦ Kindness ◦ Modesty ◦ Recognition ◦ Thankfulness ◦ Thoughtfulness ◦ Tolerance ◦ Openness


Authenticity, trust, honesty and respect – these values are the foundation of loyalty.  Loyalty reveals the depth of our value system (your integrity).  Loyalty seems simple enough, but it’s rather complex.  Blind loyalty to anyone, any cause, any group does a disservice to those we are being loyal to and reveals our character as followers, rather than leaders.  Loyalty should never require that we compromise our values.  We should be conscious of who we are loyal to and how far that loyalty will go.  Same with groups and causes – it’s worthwhile to consider the cost of our loyalty.  Should things go off course, most likely we should not go with the flow.  First and foremost, we must remain loyal to our values.  That requires courage.

Loyalty secures relationships.  To have fulfilling relationships, loyalty is an absolute requirement.  In any committed relationship, loyalty goes well beyond sexual fidelity.  Building loyalty in a partnership requires that both partners are mindful of their responsibilities toward each other.  Over time loyalty builds on itself and is a source of resilience for partners when inevitable challenges come.  Loyalty requires awareness to understand how to best support our partners.  Loyalty obviously applies to families.  Loyalty to our families builds our families.  But loyalty does not mean being blindly supportive of our children.  We are being truly loyal when we are willing to correct their lapses rather than blindly taking their side at any cost.  If we blindly support our children, we are choosing an easy and potentially detrimental path over helping to develop their character.

The best things in life are never rationed. Friendship, loyalty, love do not require coupons | George Hewitt Myers

Don’t pursue a heart that you’re not ready to be loyal to | Trent Shelton

We have to recognize that there cannot be relationships unless there is commitment, unless there is loyalty, unless there is love, patience, persistence | Cornel West

Loyalty to the family must be merged into loyalty to the community, loyalty to the community into loyalty to the nation, and loyalty to the nation into loyalty to mankind. The citizen of the future must be a citizen of the world | Thomas Cochrane

Similar/related values:

Acceptance ◦ Commitment ◦ Camaraderie ◦ Dependability ◦ Fidelity ◦ Support ◦ Unity ◦ Solidarity ◦ Synergy ◦ Teamwork ◦ Duty


Good leadership requires that we draw on good values and good leaders attract good leaders.  It’s better when partners are both good leaders, respecting each other, being honest with each other, being loyal to each other.  By default, parents are the leaders of their families.  Leadership by example is forever true.  That doesn’t mean, as parents, we “act” like leaders.  As they get older, kids see through any act.  As parents, leadership does not have to be complex – to the extent we are able, we choose to intentionally live a good value system.  That is leadership by example and is sufficient to deliver life-long benefit to our children.

Leadership is not about you; it’s about investing in the growth of others | Ken Blanchard

Self-centered leaders manipulate when they move people for personal benefit. Mature leaders motivate by moving people for mutual benefit | John C. Maxwell

When you learn, teach, when you get, give | Maya Angelou

There is no greater name for a leader than mother or father. There is no leadership more important than parenthood | Sheri L. Dew

Similar/related values:

Guidance ◦ Impact ◦ Inspiration ◦ Influential


In itself, experience is not a value.  However, what experience teaches each of us has tremendous value.  Experience + Knowledge = Wisdom.  There is no substitute for knowledge gained through experience.

Experience has substance that pure knowledge can never have.  Two people bring the sum of their experience, good and bad, to any relationship.  Years of experience with each other, guided by good values, should result in the wonderfully bonded couple most of us aspire to become.

Being a wonderfully bonded couple is one of the best forms of leadership by example that we can provide for our children.  Seeing well-bonded parents in action is invaluable learned experience for children.  If day-to-day they observe the actions of well-bonded parents, the learned experience will give them role models to aim for and hopefully, exceed.

Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions | Rita Mae Brown

There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home | John Stuart Mill

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand | Confucius

Every experience, good or bad, is a priceless collector’s item | Isaac Marion

Similar/related values:

Expertise ◦ Mastery ◦ Maturity ◦ Professionalism ◦ Wisdom ◦ Seasoned

Good Humor

Humor is the Rodney Dangerfield of values … it gets no respect.  Humor is seriously underrated. But without good humor in the life, what’s the point? 

When we’re laughing, life is good.  When we smile, the world truly does smile back.  Don’t believe it?  Try it sometime and observe.  People will smile at you when you smile!

Humor brings people together. Humor builds trust.  Humor diffuses conflict.  Humor keeps you sane.  People like people who make them laugh.  You like yourself when you’re being funny.

Laughter reduces stress and has a positive impact on health.  The body heals with play; the mind heals with laughter and the spirit heals with joy.

Like any skill, humor must be practiced to be perfected so … tell those lame jokes and laugh ourselves silly while others give us that puzzled look.  Who cares!  Do it enough and those lame jokes will get better!

Consider it in primitive terms — people typically approach pleasure and avoid pain.  The family that plays together stays together.  There’s method to madness!

A sense of humor is a major defense against minor troubles | Mignon McLaughlin

A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road | Henry Ward Beecher

A sense of humor is just common sense dancing | William James

Smiling is definitely one of the best beauty remedies | Rashida Jones

No mind is thoroughly well organized that is deficient in a sense of humor | Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Similar/related values:

Cheerfulness ◦ Enjoyment ◦ Entertainment ◦ Excitement ◦ Friendliness ◦ Fun ◦ Gregariousness ◦ Happiness ◦ Hospitality ◦ Joy ◦ Silliness ◦ Warmth ◦ Wittiness

Values: Foundational, Beyond Ourselves


In the western world many of us view freedom as a right.  Given that 24% of people on this planet live under oppression, freedom is more a value than a right.  Eleanor Roosevelt said “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.” There is no guarantee of freedom. 

If we don’t take care of our responsibilities, we will lose freedom – government will step in.  The more people choose to rely on government, the more they forgo personal responsibility and diminish personal freedom.  There’s a tricky balance between collective responsibility and personal freedom. 

The more we live an intentional life based on good values, the better we will be able to act on the responsibilities that come with freedom.  Freedom is central to our lives and is an integral value worth fighting for – on many fronts.

Don’t regard yourself as a guardian of freedom unless you respect and preserve the rights of people you disagree with | Gerard K. O’Neill

I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom | Bob Dylan

Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility | Sigmund Freud

Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained | James A. Garfield

Similar/related values:

Liberty ◦ Autonomy ◦Self-determination


Human beings are social beings. Our natural inclination is toward togetherness and belonging.  Community as a value is important. We all live in communities and play a role in the evolution of our communities.

All members of the community benefit when they feel an association with and commitment to the community.   Anything positive we do in our communities will strengthen our communities.  We can give back to our communities or we can give back to the people in our social circle.

Both actions benefit the broader community.  The more we have benefitted from our community, the greater our responsibility to give back.

It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference | Tom Brokaw

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has | Margaret Mead

In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it | Marianne Williamson

What do most people say on their deathbed? They don’t say, ‘I wish I’d made more money.’ What they say is, ‘I wish I’d spent more time with my family and done more for society or my community | David Rubenstein

Similar/related values:

Service to others ◦ Benevolence ◦ Charity ◦ Contribution ◦ Cooperation ◦ Courtesy ◦ Generosity ◦ Giving ◦ Harmony ◦ Helpfulness ◦ Making a difference ◦ Philanthropy ◦ Selflessness ◦ Service ◦ Sharing


Classically, justice is considered one of the Four Cardinal Virtues.  This is not about criminal justice or punishment fitting the crime.  It relates to social justice, fair play and equality.  It is the balance between what’s best for ourselves and best for others or, between having more and having less than we may perceive as our fair share.

Justice does not require equal outcomes, but it does require equal opportunity.  Justice means all have the opportunity to benefit from the rights granted to a community.  A just community grants fundamental human rights to all members. Justice within a community should result in less conflict, more good decisions and a more bonded community.

Justice requires that we take action when we see things are going down the wrong path.

In the final analysis, true justice is not a matter of courts and law books, but of a commitment in each of us to liberty and mutual respect | Jimmy Carter

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are | Benjamin Franklin

Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained | Helen Keller

Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph | Haile Selassie

Similar/related values:

Fairness ◦ Impartiality ◦ Judiciousness ◦ Reasonableness


Empathy is having a relatable awareness of the feelings and emotions of other people – it requires that we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.  It requires that we be alert and have an outward focus, rather than a self-centered focus on our emotional needs.  It requires that we withhold judgement on others while extending respect.

Empathy is best when it is combined with a response of understanding, patience and comfort.  Too many engage in the mindless practice of picking at the flaws of others which is always counter-productive to relationship building.

Empathy combined with self-awareness provides the seeds necessary to develop emotional intelligence – the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions and to recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others.  Developing emotional intelligence can greatly influence our success in life. 

People remember key moments – how we respond to key moments will drive the choices of future interactions people will have with us.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around | Leo Buscaglia

Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care | Theodore Roosevelt

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen | Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization | Roger Ebert

There is no greater intelligence than kindness and empathy | Bryant H. McGill

Similar/related values:

Understanding ◦ Compassion ◦ Sympathy ◦ Insight


Obviously, sustainability has become the environmental buzzword of our time.  While here, we are all borrowing this planet from future generations and future generations have no choice but to live with the consequences of actions we take or fail to take now.  In our research, however, we didn’t find many advocating sustainability as a personal value.

Sustainability should have a broader meaning.  Much of what we do to ourselves is not spiritually sustainable, physically sustainable, or financially sustainable.  The way governments are run in our times is not economically sustainable.  Much of what we are doing today cannot carry forward indefinitely.

Global sustainability must begin with personal sustainability.  Personal sustainability can be looked at from many facets beyond the scope of this brief writing.  If, as a society, we intentionally lived a good value system, sustainability would have a larger impact on everything we did.

Sustainability is living on nature’s income rather than living on its capital | Murray Gell-Mann

The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least not try to defy them | Paul Hawke

Sustainability is the key to our survival on this planet and will also determine success on all levels | Shari Arison

Sustainability is a political choice, not a technical one. It’s not a question of whether we can be sustainable, but whether we choose to be | Gary Lawrence

The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery, not over nature but of ourselves | Rachel Carson

Sustainability is here to stay or we may not be | Niall FitzGerald

Similar/related values:

Environmentalism ◦ Economy ◦ Thrift


Thanks to azquotes.com and brainyquote.com from where we sourced most of our quotes.

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