What is value? What are values? (short version)

December 28, 2012 by Joshua
in Blog, Evolutionary Psychology

I wanted to simplify yesterday’s post. The following is just my perspective. I find it helpful, simplifying and clarifying an otherwise vague and complex topic, basing it in something everyone can understand — how they feel.

Understanding the concept of value helps you create value in your life, which everyone benefits from. In more basic terms, it helps you create more emotions you like. I consider talking about emotions more basic than talking about values because you know what you feel.

What is value?

The term value describes what emotions something evokes in you. You value things that evoke emotions you like. You devalue things that evoke emotions you don’t like.

If you like your family, you’ll value them. If you don’t you won’t. Same with anything else.

The characteristics of the emotions something evokes tell you the characteristics of its value to you. Emotions may be long-term or short-term, simple or complex, intense or subtle, and so on. How you value a thing will vary accordingly.

Since value is based in emotions and all our emotional systems evolved in the same ancestors for all but that last few thousand years, we all share many common emotional responses and therefore values, which make many values seem objective.

Since our emotional responses depend on the inputs to our emotional systems — for example our environments, perceptions, beliefs, and behavior — they seem to differ even though the underlying system is mostly the same. As a result, many people’s emotional responses and therefore values seem subjective and unpredictable. Still, the underlying system producing emotions and therefore values is the same, or very similar.

Since your emotions change with inputs like your environment, perceptions, beliefs, and behavior, your values will change with those inputs. If, for example, you move to new environments (since your body is part of your emotional system’s environment, simply aging will change your values) or change your beliefs, perceptions, and behaviors, your environments will change.

Groups of people in some places and times may have common environments or share beliefs that lead them to share values that groups in other places and times don’t share — leading values to vary with culture.

As a result, some values will seem universal and objective; others (or the same ones at different times) will appear subjective and changing; and others will appear based in culture or time.

The better you understand your emotional system and emotions, to better you can live by your values and create value in your life. As you understand your emotions and emotional system better (as, say, through the Model) and how to create the emotions you want (as, say, through the Method), you’ll learn how to understand and create value more.

Don’t understand your emotions or how to manage them and you’ll have trouble understanding and creating value in your life.

Might as well learn to understand and manage your emotions, I’d say.

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4 responses on “What is value? What are values? (short version)

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