We use our value system—a hierarchy of qualities we have embraced as important—every day to make decisions and choices. While most people will agree that common values such as honesty, courage, loyalty, confidence, and kindness are important, each society, community, family, and person all have a differing set of which values should take precedent over others in any given situation. When we make decisions based on values that differ from the prevailing or expected ones, we can be seen as being anything from inconsiderate to morally wrong. Tension between personal and community or cultural values causes social friction, invokes shame, and leads to intense moral judgment on all sides. Understanding that there is no one right value judgment in any situation can help open compassion to others, and discovering what our own core values are can help us make bold decisions that lead toward integrity and self-fulfillment.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama talks about the importance of inner values such as compassion, in this short clip from his talk "Educating the Heart" given at the University of Hawaii, on Oahu, Hawaii, to an audience of mostly high school and college students on April 14, 2012.
Within each of us are two selves, suggests David Brooks in this meditative short talk: the self who craves success, who builds a résumé, and the self who seeks connection, community, love - the values that make for a great eulogy. Can we balance these two selves? Perhaps, once we know them both.