essay: what’s a value?

i read the subtle art of not giving a fuck on a plane. i love buying books in the airport. they are overpriced, usually hardcover, and are complimented well by equally overpriced snacks. a friend recommended this book to me, and it had been in the back of my mind for a while. at hudson news, i was performing some sort of juggling act, attempting to balance my chex mix, giant water bottle, and carry on, and noticed the book’s bright orange cover and cheeky title staring back at me. i had to have it.

i read the book during my flight. i could not put it down. i read it quickly, eager to absorb all of the humor and wisdom packed into its pages.

one of the things author mark manson emphasizes in the book is: everything sucks to a a certain extent, so don’t seek a happy, perfect life. seek a life where you choose the suckish things that are inevitably going to be part of your day. own the sucky-ness of your career path, because from all the piles of suck, that’s the one you like the best. it’s worth it to you. you choose that suck over the others. but don’t expect to be happy all the time, because then you will be disappointed.

he suggests setting values for yourself to pinpoint which pile of suck you should make your own and it got me thinking: what are my values? what’s a value?

it’s one thing to think about values in a sort of distant, theoretical way: i value respect, trust, and loyalty. i value safety. i value security. that didn’t get me any closer to understanding what kind of career or even life i want to have. so i got more specific.

i value healthy relationships. i value time with my family and friends. i value ingenuity. i value feeling like a have a purpose. i value hard work. i value having a home that i feel good about and that i look forward to coming home to at the end of the day.

still, a no go.

it was time to cut the shit. here are my values:

  • i want value time with my family that allows us to actually talk and catch up, and to get to know each other better as we all grow up. we are all at different stages in our lives and i want us to make an effort to talk more and listen more.
  • i want value friends who don’t keep score or value our friendship based on how many nights per week i see them. i don’t see friends that often during the week. i work a lot and i am an extrovert/introvert with an emphasis on the introvert. so socializing is hard for me sometimes. i want friends who respect that and love me anyway. luckily for me, i have found friends like that.
  • i want value a romantic relationship that is at its core, a friendship.
  • i want value a job that makes me feel like i am doing something important. i want writing and reading to be a part of my job. i want to work with people that challenge me, make me think in a way that is not always intuitive, and who can every now and then make me laugh and remind me that life (and work) don’t have to be so serious all the time.
  • i want value time dedicated to exploring my faith in God and questioning my faith every chance i get. in my experience, going to church every sunday and taking in what the preacher says without asking questions about it is passive. it kills your chance to grow and actually get closer to God.
  • i want value reading books slowly and underlining things and getting a mark on my hand because i am left-handed and the world was built for right-handed people. i value learning every single day.

that’s a start. thank you mark manson for encouraging me to create this list. it’s a good exercise, and i encourage you to do the same. it not only helped me highlight areas of my life that did not align with my values, but encouraged me to see that i have actually done quite a few things to make these values part of my every day. and i realized while yes, i get frustrated with things sometimes, i am choosing those frustrations/those suckish aspects of life. they are my suckish things and i love them.

in fact, i value them.

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image via Nion