It took me a long time to realize how important having a value structure really is and how it influences every single decision I make. Having a solid set of values also impacts my mental health in a variety of ways, which we will break down together in the following few paragraphs. You may already be thinking that you have a set of values but I would argue that a lot of us haven’t really sat down and put effort into organizing our values and analyze how this has affected our lives thus far.

Values Shape Us

If you grew up in a clean, tidy and well-organized household, chances are you may have incorporated this into your own home. If you value cleanliness, you will live your life according to this value. You will dust on a monthly basis, vacuum, mop and make your bed each and every morning. The fact that you value cleanliness will also make you realize that people obviously have different value systems.

I’ve been to many homes, apartments and workplaces and it is obvious that people don’t value cleanliness and organization as much as I do. It’s clear that values differ from person to person so we can’t simply copy others and think of our personal values like the 10 Commandments. These are personal to you and should assist you in living the life you want to live.

Make a List

I’m inviting you to write down a list of things you value, thinking about what is truly important to you in life and maybe things you think you should have valued in the past which may have affected your present.

Here are a few examples: Honesty, Compassion, Integrity, Family, Relationships, Authenticity, Wealth, Knowledge, Spirituality etc…

Write down as many as you can think of and feel free to do a quick Google search to find more that may spark some ideas. It doesn’t matter if they are 100% accurate to your personality – just think of this as a rough draft and write freely!


Now that you have a long list of values, it’s time to prioritize and think of which best suit the way you want to be perceived and how to best live your life. Think of it this way – live by the values that would make you admire yourself. Do you admire other people who are wise and compassionate? Do you envy those who are honest and completely authentic? Well, prioritize these values and make them part of how you want to live.

What About Mental Health?

Living by a solid set of values has everything to do with mental health. For example, stigma is also a big topic when it comes to mental health and people find it difficult to talk openly about. In my case, I do not want to say I am special in any way or braver than others, but what I value above all else is honesty. I live my life according to this value and whenever I have a challenge to overcome or in everyday circumstances, I am honest with both myself and others.

In the case of telling others about my mental illness, I told people right away. I sought help immediately because I was honest with myself and knew that I was experiencing thoughts and emotions that I had never experienced. I was honest with my parents and siblings because I value honesty. I was honest with my therapist and held nothing back because my life revolves around the value of honesty.

I hope you can see how one simple value, when lived by, completely changes how to live our lives and the decisions we make on a daily basis. We take action that satisfies what we value so it only makes sense to have values that are in our best interest and the interest of others.

Visualize a Challenge

Visualize a scenario where your value system would come into play. You could have to face a difficult person or decision at work. You could get into an argument with a family member or were laid off from your job.

Which values would you incorporate in your visualized challenge? How would this help you respond effectively in a way that allows you to admire yourself and shape a better world for you and others? This is what having a solid set of values is all about. We do not need to question whether we did the wrong thing or live in regret because we know we acted according to the values that benefit us and the world.

Your Mission Statement

All businesses have a mission statement which communicates what they do. This can be simple and short, yet powerful. I think it’s beneficial if we all have mission statements for what we do and how we act. Try writing your own mission statement for yourself that corresponds to your top 2 or 3 values. This doesn’t have to be done in one sitting and may even take you weeks or months to get it just right. Fortunately, this can always be changed but this doesn’t mean you can’t print it, frame it and put it where you can see it every day.

About the Author

Scott is a Mental Health Advocate and Founder of Depression to Expression. He has been sharing his story of depression and anxiety for over 5 years and teaching others to feel confident in their self-expression. His mission is to empower people by helping them realize that mental illness is not a weakness but an opportunity for personal growth and development. Scott’s message has reached over 5 million people through online media which supports the fact that the need for mental health education is needed. Scott is dedicated to Depression to Expression and lives his passion everyday single day.

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