Thank you for returning for Session 3 of this five-session stress management class. And just as you did last time, take a moment to think about the main reasons you are spending your time and energy coming here today: caring for yourself, caring for your family, caring for your community.

Introduction to values: what are values exactly?

Values are your deepest desires for how you want to behave as a human being, what kind of person you want to be, and how you want to act or behave towards yourself and others. A value is like a direction for your life (such as being kind or caring, or being trustworthy). Values are not about what you want to get or achieve (e.g. a job); they are about how you want to behave or act in your life.


Values are different from goals. Getting a job or getting married are goals. Values are how you want to behave as you work towards your goals, and how you want to behave if you cannot achieve your goals right now.

  • For example, if your value is to be hardworking, you can behave in that way now and forever, even if you never achieve the goal of getting a Even when it is not possible to get a job due to your situation, you can always find ways to be hardworking by trying you hardest at whatever you do.
  • Wanting to be loved and respected are not values. They are goals, because they are about trying to get something, or wanting something that is not in your direct
  • However, being loving and being respectful are You can directly control whether you decide that these are important values to you, and whether you act in loving and respectful ways. Regardless of your situation, it is possible to behave in ways that are in line with these values, even if it is only in small ways.


Values are different from feelings. Values are about how you want to act and the kind of person you would like to be, not about how you want to feel. “I want to feel calm and patient,” is not a value. It is a desire to feel a certain way, and it is not possible to control how we feel. We are not able to choose to feel calm and patient all the time, otherwise we would all do it. But notice how you can choose to act in a calm and patient way towards others, even if it’s only through small actions, and even if you actually feel angry and impatient inside. Sometimes, living by your values might influence how you feel: for example, if you speak in a calm and patient tone of voice, it may help you to feel calmer. But even if you do not feel calmer, you will still have the satisfaction of knowing that you acted like the calm and patient person you want to be.

If you are unsure of your values, it can help to think of the different relationships you have in your life and ask yourself, “What type of person do I want to be to my friends, family and community?” For example, perhaps it is important to you to be a generous friend, a hardworking colleague and a friendly neighbour. You can also think about the challenges you face and ask yourself, “Who do I want to be in this situation?” For example, is it most important to you to be fair, kind or courageous? Only you can choose your values; no one can do it for you.

To identify your values, it can also help to ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you want your life to be about?
  • What sort of person do you want to be?
  • What sort of relationships do you want to build?