Simplify your life {Week 2: Define your Personal Values}

by Debra Dane on January 9, 2012

in Authenticity & Self-awareness, Simplify your life 2012

NOTE: If you are looking to simplify your life identifying your values is critical to the process. If you want to go further you can check out my ebook here “Simplify your life – from the inside out” which is currently on sale for $5 and covers the core topics we worked through in the 52 week challenge I hosted in 2012 (and have expanded on in the ebook plus workbook).


Well who could have predicted how many people would join in the 52 weeks to simplify your life challenge… I am so thrilled to have you all here and hope to connect and grow together over the coming year.

I posted my own answer to the week one challenge on Friday and have been enjoying reading many posts already shared in the last few days.  There is a linky open at the end of this post so please add your week one challenge post there and we can all visit in the coming days. I promise each week to slowly make my way through all the linked posts as time allows. Each linky will stay open for the week and close on Sunday nights. If you complete a challenge after the week it is posted you can always add your post to a future linky, just be clear what week’s challenge your post is for.

This week’s topic is values! When I visualised this challenge I saw it as a structure composed of building blocks – big blocks on the bottom serving as foundations and adding more blocks on over the year, almost creating a pyramid structure. Values are the big block at the bottom. To me, being clear on what you are about and what you stand for is the first big step to simplifying your life.

What happens when you are clear on what your values are?

  • You get in touch with what is important to you in life – this will lead to simplified goal setting (a few weeks from now)
  • You begin to see where your focus should be (we will draw on this when we get to setting priorities)
  • Once you commit to and “own” your values you can, more easily, figure out what to let go of in your life (this will play out as we do goal setting, time management, relationships and so much more!)
  • You can approach your life with intention (you will first choose things that further your goals that are in sync with your values rather than going along simply with others or based on others’ values)
  • You have a framework or guide to stand on as you decide how to parent your children and the lessons you want them to absorb

How do you go about defining your values?

I have been collecting these descriptive words for a while so have an extensive list of value words you can look at if you need prompting (click on the link later to get the printable)- you might want to first brainstorm what comes to you to see where your instincts lie before being influenced. Break the answers down though until you come up with value words. (so rather than “I love to read” take it deeper to the why? to get to the values)

Some prompting questions for you to think about (no need to reply directly on these questions unless you want to talk through your process in your post):

What do you like to do? – The things you find yourself  immersed in fully and happily.

Who and what inspires you? – Go deeper and think about why. What speaks to you when you think about those things and people?

What do you feel strongly about in life? – What things would you defend fully in an argument with other people?

When you close your eyes and visualise the person you want to be (free from anyone else’s influence) what stands out to you? How does that “future you” act? What do they believe in?

What are you dead set against in life? Identifying your anti-values can reveal something you are passionate about that you can define in positive value terms. (example: knowing you are 100% against war and conflict brings you to a possible value of  peaceful or pacifist or non-violence)

Printable list of value words

The process of defining your core values

After asking yourself these questions, your own questions (would love to see them in your post so others can be inspired for future weeks), and / or reviewing the list of value words (circle words that speak to you as you go through them):

1. Narrow the value words down to 10-15 that represent you and your vision.

2. Review and reflect on this list until you can narrow it down to 5 words and/or phrases for greater clarity.

3. To rank these values in order of importance to you look at the top 5 and ask yourself if you had to pick only one of these values to focus on and hold true which would it be? Write that down as #1. Look at the remaining 4 values and ask the question again with your answer becoming #2. Carry on until all five values have been prioritised.

This is the simplest way to get yourself to weigh up the words to rank them. Ranking becomes important when situations arise that cause two of your values to come into conflict. (more on that later).

What values are not

Goals - values give you the framework and the goals are the actions you set out to do in the future

Permanent - you may currently hold values that are based on how you were raised and never questioned before (some of these may be discarded now or over time) or declare values today that become irrelevant or out of sync with who you become (so may be dropped when you review your values in the future). You can like the sound of a value, adopt it and find that it really is not a core value of yours – that is okay.

Universal - There are hundreds of value words identified already. No two people will select the same handful of words to represent their core beliefs. You may find someone who shares your value of compassion, but they don’t share your value of health. As you watch them smoke cigarettes every day you might judge their lack of value of health, but that is their own choice. There are not right or wrong values* and this ties in with my “find your simple” - your values can be different than everyone you know and that is okay.

Another “should” - don’t feel you have to have certain values because you have been taught that is what “good” people believe in. This is where it is time to get to the core of who you are as an individual. The struggle many people feel is when they are working towards goals and a life that is based on others’ ideas and expectations. This is where you break free from that and define it for yourself.


Week 2 challenge: Go through the process and define your top 5 core values including ranking them. Share this information however you want next Monday (not on this post) – if you want please elaborate on your choices, talk about any difficulties in the process, any surprises or changes that came about. Blog it and link up, comment on next week’s post, share a journal entry or scrapbook layout, whatever method works for you…

If you have written about week one of 52 weeks to simplify your life please link up below.

Note: Any unrelated posts will be removed – sorry.

If the linky tool is not showing up please refresh the page and it should appear- modern technology is as imperfect as us humans!


Find your simple,



NOTE: If you are looking to simplify your life identifying your values is critical to the process. If you want to go further you can check out my ebook here “Simplify your life – from the inside out” which is currently on sale for $5 and covers the core topics we worked through in the 52 week challenge I hosted in 2012 (and have expanded on in the ebook plus workbook).


*I truly believe we need to be open minded and judgement free on the subject of values. As you read linked up posts next week please do so with an open mind and if necessary click away rather than leave any negative feedback.


Image credits: what will you do today

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{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

Lee January 9, 2012 at 8:56 am

Wow Deb! You have done such an amazing job! This project is going to give so much to so many people, including me.

I acknowledge what a massive task this will be for you (and will have been). Don’t forget to take care of yourself. x

PS Awesome printable too by the way!
Lee recently posted..2012 what’s in store?My Profile


Debra Dane January 9, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Thank you so much Lee – much appreciated! – and thanks for the feedback on the printable – still learning but getting there.
Debra Dane recently posted..Time Management and Planning TipsMy Profile


Lyndal January 9, 2012 at 9:04 am

This is awesome Deb – I love the printable, have put it up on my wall at work to ponder on through the week :)
Lyndal recently posted..It’s all about the little things…My Profile


Debra Dane January 9, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I love that you will allow yourself to think and reflect through the week – this is a big issue for many. for me the issue is narrowing down tot eh five, but i know it is important to give focus!
Debra Dane recently posted..52 weeks to simplify your life {SYL: Week 1}My Profile


Laney @ Crash Test Mummy January 9, 2012 at 9:06 am

I love how you simplify things Deb. We all get gung-ho about setting goals or writing resolutions, but what are they based on? Values! Thank you for prompting us all to take a step back and really think about who we are and what we stand for.
Laney @ Crash Test Mummy recently posted..We can’t go on like this . . .My Profile


Debra Dane January 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Thanks Laney – i am glad it comes across simplified – that was my aim and still took a lot of words … So much you can read on this subject goes very deep or very complicated. Most people will pass right by those articles and books and would miss out on the opportunity to reflect on this.
Debra Dane recently posted..How to be fearless one day at a timeMy Profile


Alyce January 9, 2012 at 9:09 am

Wow, what a great topic! I look forward to pondering this one :)
Alyce recently posted..One Piece of AdviceMy Profile


Sonya terBorg January 9, 2012 at 9:11 am

Thanks for starting with a solid foundation to this challenge. My mind is spinning with the idea of what I really value. Thanks also for your P.S. at the end of the post. I was just reflecting this week on the topic of thinking before you speak:


Debra Dane January 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm

I agree Sonya – there is an awful lot that gets said or printed that really could have just stayed a private thought… With personal blogs especially i think people need to respect the owner of the blog and just click away if necessary – they are not public figures or opinion makers etc So if someone in this challenge is currently focused on wealth building and has money as one of their top values I don’t want someone who disagrees with this to judge them – perhaps they will be building wealth and then donate more money – who knows?
Debra Dane recently posted..One size doesn’t fit all My Profile


lulu January 9, 2012 at 9:14 am

Fantastic topic for week 2!

Mornings are crazy around here but I will be back later to read through some of the enteries for week 1 and also take some notes for week 2.

Thank you so much for starting this project Deb! Hope all the technical stuff goes well for you as I know it has been a worry- linky seems to be working perfect for me though! Hope it is the same for others.

Have a great week.
lulu recently posted..Positives from 2011 {SYL12: Week 1}…My Profile


Debra Dane January 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Thanks Lulu – all working thank goodness. Thank you as well for spreading the word as i know several people followed you over here
Debra Dane recently posted..The Lessons We Can learn from Our ChildrenMy Profile


melani lavington January 9, 2012 at 10:13 am

THANKYOU will try to get to the 5 words that represent me and my vision …will look at my list all week…thku luving this process


kirri January 9, 2012 at 10:40 am

I’m not sure what excites me more – the way you effectively nailed down a simple yet concise outline of ‘values’, or the fact that you created a printable (something I have yet to try my hand at so I’m thinking you are a bit clever!).

But seriously, another great post Deb. Values are the ONE thing that I insist all my clients work on, no matter what their goals are. They are also something that I increasingly return to myself to ensure I am on my true path and not someone else’s.
kirri recently posted..The one thing you need to start creating the life you truly desireMy Profile


Debra Dane January 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Thanks Kirri – that means a lot coming from you.
Debra Dane recently posted..Interview with Toni Powell of 365 Grateful & the 30 day Gratitude ChallengeMy Profile


Tat January 9, 2012 at 10:42 am

Looks like I’ve got some thinking to do! I’m not sure if I will write a post or if I will share my values in the comments again, but it is definitely an exercise I’d like to do.
Tat recently posted..My One Word revealedMy Profile


Melissa January 9, 2012 at 11:52 am

i cant see my post il try again? :) lol technology hates me… this was a great post im glad i did it rather than think its too hard and ignore it :)
Melissa recently posted..SYL Week 1-Things That Went Right in 2011My Profile


Bec S January 9, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Hmmm for some reason values scare me….I feel like I don’t have any. This one is going to take some pondering! Glad we have all week!!


Beck @ Rambling Mummy January 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Loving following along. Have start thinking about my core values… not a simple task. Sure has got my mind ticking
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Debra Dane January 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm

I know it can be hard so let it sit for a while, reflect and refine the list as you go through the week. I am not posting mine until Thursday and know the order might change between now and then.
Debra Dane recently posted..The Lessons We Can learn from Our ChildrenMy Profile


Melissa January 9, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Here is Week 1. Very much looking forward to contemplating Week 2 over the next few days :)


Karen at MomAgain@40 January 9, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Wow! Thanks for stopping by my blog! It seems you are giving very sound and valuable advice here (*linking to my blog list now*)
I love the idea of “simple”!
Karen at MomAgain@40 recently posted..My word: SortedMy Profile


Debra Dane January 9, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Thanks Karen – i appreciate it!
Debra Dane recently posted..Interview with Toni Powell of 365 Grateful & the 30 day Gratitude ChallengeMy Profile


Tracy Roberts January 9, 2012 at 7:42 pm

That was harder then I thought, so many to choose from. I had to be careful that I was choosing the right values for me and not because I liked that word or thats what I thought others saw in me. I do feel I have alot more values but they are abit more flexiable to me.

So here goes, I feel my 5 core values are:

Family, Equality, Respect, Creativity and Happiness.


Debra Dane January 9, 2012 at 7:49 pm

That is exactly right Tracy – so if someone IDs 10 that mean something to them, just because you pick a top 5 does not mean you don’t value the others etc it just means those are the most important ones and the ones you will use to make choices, move forward and prioritise
Debra Dane recently posted..How to be fearless one day at a timeMy Profile


Tam January 9, 2012 at 8:42 pm

I just blogged week one and had to stop myself doing week two straight away – one bite at a time is best, I think!

Thank you for these prompts. My word for 2012 is intentional, and it is activities like these that are going to help me live more intentionally this year.


Debra Dane January 9, 2012 at 11:03 pm

That’s great tam – and that is why we are going slow so it can be well thought out and with intention. often we choose goals and push ourselves to match up to a plan or what everyone else is doing etc but when we slow down we can see what is right for us and maybe let go of some of the things that don’t lift us up or excite us or fit with who we really are when we are free to be authentically us… definitely one bite at a time (love it!)
Debra Dane recently posted..How to be fearless one day at a timeMy Profile


rachelle January 9, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Hi Deb, i finally got my blog and buttons to work but now speilt my name wrong on the linky. (i was going so well). I am number 54. how do i change or can you change the spelling of my name? otherwise can I delete my linky and past again?


Debra Dane January 9, 2012 at 8:53 pm

I wouldn’t worry too much but if you want o you can delete it and re-enter. yay for getting it all ready – awesome!
Debra Dane recently posted..How to be fearless one day at a timeMy Profile


rachelle January 9, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Thanks – how do i delete it. i am not getting any option. are you able to delete it


Debra Dane January 9, 2012 at 9:17 pm

i just learned how to edit them – there you go
Debra Dane recently posted..2011 reflections filled with gratitudeMy Profile


Emilia January 9, 2012 at 9:10 pm

I have had my own evaluation at the end of last year, and my value word for twenty twelve can not be anything else, than “change”. I am definitely following along!
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rachelle January 9, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Thanks Deb. Another thing to be grateful for. like sleep!!! good night


Amy January 9, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Have done week one and am looking forward to getting my teeth into week two :)
Amy recently posted..52 weeks to simplify your lifeMy Profile


E. January 9, 2012 at 10:28 pm

I thought that 2011 sucked but writing down the postitives was great I feel a lot better about 2011 now. I am really looking forward to doing this weeks challenge.

Thank you so much for your time and effort!
E. recently posted..What went right in 2011? – SYL. Week# 1My Profile


Debra Dane January 9, 2012 at 11:05 pm

That is fantastic E. – shift your focus and you find the beauty and light amongst the dark… I look forward to reading your post!
Debra Dane recently posted..Time Management and Planning TipsMy Profile


Pats January 9, 2012 at 10:56 pm

I am having trouble linking. It gives me some error about it doesnt have a backlink and boots me out. How do I fix this? I copied the URL from my blog, entered my name and email address… ah just when i was feeling like I had it worked out :(


Debra Dane January 9, 2012 at 11:07 pm

Pats – i am off to bed but the backlink thing prevents random postings being entered (like for unrelated things or to promote sales sites etc) or getting through (like spam protection for me if i am not watching the links) so it requires you link to my site somewhere in your post or site. if you have a mention of the challenge in your post (which most would do) you can highlight the words and link them to the blog address here and that will do it. will set you up tomorrow if you don’t before i get up!
Debra Dane recently posted..Interview with Toni Powell of 365 Grateful & the 30 day Gratitude ChallengeMy Profile


Pats January 9, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Success – thank you again :)


Devon January 10, 2012 at 12:14 am

This is a hard one for me…. I think that’s why I let so much blah get in the way and then years later realize I wasn’t doing what I wanted to be doing. It will be hard but I’m looking forward to really thinking these through!
Devon recently posted..Remembering 2011 with Gratitude – Week 1SYL12My Profile


The Imperfect Housewife January 10, 2012 at 5:51 am

Another great post, thanks. I’ve had a lot of fun thinking about this one. A bit harder than week 1! But it feels good to be clear on what my values and passions are :)
The Imperfect Housewife recently posted..The passion that is meMy Profile


umebossy January 10, 2012 at 7:01 am

I didn’t post on the initial post to introduce myself but just wanted to comment here to say thank you for doing this! I found out about the challenge via Lulu of Cherry Blossom Adventures and I’m really looking forward to attempting it over the next year. Week 2 looks great! Will need to find some time to sit down and properly think about it. Thanks again :)
umebossy recently posted..52 weeks to simplify your life {SYL: Week 1}My Profile


Debra Dane January 10, 2012 at 8:09 am

You are welcome and so happy to have you here with us!


Lisa January 10, 2012 at 8:31 am

Hi Debra, I have really enjoyed writing my blog post for Week 1, and am already focusing on my values for this week. I have printed out the word sheet for myself, but also one for the faimly ( on the back of the bathroom dorr, of course) I’m hoping it will prompt them to think about what they stand for and what they want to be known for. Thankyou
Lisa recently posted..What went right in 2011 ?My Profile


Melissa January 10, 2012 at 11:08 am

hoping this posts :) very excited for the year ahead i love this idea
Melissa recently posted..SYL Week 1-Things That Went Right in 2011My Profile


Melissa January 11, 2012 at 9:52 am

Week 1 is done, now onto Week 2. I did put up my link earlier in the week but not sure if it linked up…anyway will try again… :)


V January 11, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Couldn’t get the linky thing to work so will try linking it here.


Cass Henry January 11, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Week 2 challenge certainly offers a lot to thing about. I think it’s a perfect task to help realign my thinking…i get so busy with “life” that I tend to forget what’s really important. I am so pleased to be doing this – I feel like I’m starting to get my head straight and my feet back on the ground. So thanks Deb x


Debra Dane January 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Cass – that is great. I agree that we get caught up in life – for me, I notice time flies and I wonder where the year has gone. That is why I think it is important to start off reflecting, figuring things out and THEN setting forth with intention for the rest of the year. Here’s to having our heads straight and feet on the ground in 2012!
Debra Dane recently posted..Back to school: Getting ready and organised Round upMy Profile


Steph Pearce January 11, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Loving the process Deb. Such great questions. In case it helps others, thought I would share that one question I also asked myself at the end was ‘what values would I most want to teach my son’. Really helped me clarify what I thought was important.
Steph Pearce recently posted..Simplify your life: Week 1. Everything that went right in 2011My Profile


Debra Dane January 11, 2012 at 6:05 pm

that is a great way to look at it! will share on the FB page as we are chatting a little there right now and people are having difficulty…with the process
Debra Dane recently posted..2011 reflections filled with gratitudeMy Profile


Tracey January 11, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Wow Deb so many links! I bet this is beyond your wildest dreams. One of my thoughts for this year was to go more “hands free”, but with 87 blogs to work my way through and my own blog to think about I don’t know how I will do it. I think I will find this week’s topic easier than last week. I have always had a very strong value system. Thanks so much :-)
Tracey recently posted..Letting fear creep inMy Profile


Debra Dane January 11, 2012 at 9:50 pm

It is truly beyond my wildest imagination. Don’t feel you have to visit every blog every week – spread the love and visit where and when you can (maybe pick a few each from the top, middle and bottom of the list). I am making my way slowly and have visited about 32 out of 87 so far. Kids are going to vacation care tomorrow so my 1st big blog day this summer – will be reading and writing all day!
Debra Dane recently posted..The Importance of ValuesMy Profile


Louise January 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm
I have posted week 1 and thinking about week 2 now.
I’m very new to this blogging thing so time will tell if I’m any good!
Love putting the thought into answering all these questions instead of just cruising along in auto-pilot!
Louise recently posted..Week 1 of the 52 week challengeMy Profile


Debra Dane January 12, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Welcome Louise – do you want to link it up above. each week there will be a new collection. Also – you are the 2nd tumblr blogger – is there a comment facility- could not see anything on either one and i am not familiar with tumblr really at all
Debra Dane recently posted..Narrowing down my core values by getting to the heart of the matterMy Profile


Louise January 13, 2012 at 7:59 am

Hi Debra, No you’re quite right and I hadn’t realised that before. I have changed to Wordpress – suprisingly easy!
Louise recently posted..Week 1 of the 52 Week ChallengeMy Profile


Jenn January 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Hi Deb,

I don’t know what is going wrong but I cannot see the linky tool no matter what I do. Anyway, I will try again on the weekend by following some of the help pages.
I am having an interesting time this week considering my values and am looking forward to reading what others are writing.
I hope next week I can join the link up :)
Jenn recently posted..2011 – Things that went rightMy Profile


Debra Dane January 13, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Not sure – it is there. when you don’t see it try refreshing your browser as that can fix it for some people. If that does not work let me know and i will manually add you to the linky (it closes Sunday night Brisbane time)


Jenn January 16, 2012 at 6:21 pm

There was no link but I have just checked next weeks page and it appeared straight away!! It must just be one of those things.
I will definitely link into next week with my values, just need to finish writing them :)
Jenn recently posted..2011 – Things that went rightMy Profile


Gwendoline January 14, 2012 at 4:13 am
Debra Dane January 14, 2012 at 7:21 am

Hi hon – the linky will open on Monday and you can add it then ok? thanks and have a great weekend


Tanya Biltoft January 15, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Hi Deb,
I can’t get mine to link up, but that’s okay. I’m not really into it today I’m afraid. Having a day full of mixed emotions. Just really wanted to get it linked before the thing disappears, but nevermind – it’s just typical really for me.


Debra Dane January 15, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Tanya – i know we have emailed but i wanted to say again that i am happy to link anytime if you want me to do it. take care and I am sure when you link up week 2 people will go back and read week one as well


Gemma @ My Big Nutshell January 15, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Wow Deb. This is very exciting. The core to ones being and being true to that is a real challenge for so many.
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TracyM January 15, 2012 at 10:12 pm

My values are GROWTH – my plan to develop me this year
GRATITUDE – to develop this I will be a more joyful person
FAMILY – Very important to me and I wanting strengthen this year
CHALLENGE – I know I can do it, I am going to achieve this by taking a step further that I think possible
BALANCE – I need this for me , my hubby and the kids, in all aspects of life.

Thanks TracyM


Debra Dane January 15, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Those look great Tracy- i love it!


lsg1378 January 15, 2012 at 10:37 pm

I don’t know what I’m doing wrong … but it won’t come up with the linky thingy …
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Debra Dane January 16, 2012 at 7:26 am

Your comment was in the spam folder so sorry … the linky is closed now but you can add to the new one today. If you do not see the linky, refresh your browser and it usually appears then – sometimes it is glitchy. welcome!
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Tat January 16, 2012 at 6:54 pm

I’m back to share my values:
Open mind
Tat recently posted..Loving my body is like loving my childrenMy Profile


Debra Dane January 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Wonderful Tat – and they all go together as creativity requires an open mind and freedom and honesty in various forms.
Debra Dane recently posted..Simplify your life {Week 3: Creating Mission Statements}My Profile


Aprill January 18, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I have really struggled with this one. It wasn’t a case of trimming values, it was a case of coming up with them. Anyway, this is it.

laughter – can’t live without this one and I think I need to do more of it with my kids.
loyalty – I can count my true friends with one hand and would defend them if they came under fire.
dream – dream big, even if it all seems hopeless.
gratitude – i need to get better at this one. I feel it but often don’t say it.
growth – 2012 is the year for career growth. I’m back out there, I want to be in front of people and an authority in my topic.


Debra Dane January 18, 2012 at 1:15 pm

well you have come up with a great value list so that is great to see. love each of your comments on them as well
Debra Dane recently posted..Redefining NormalMy Profile


Gemini Mum January 22, 2012 at 10:09 pm

I’m a bit late, but here’s my Week One –


Debra Dane January 22, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Hi Christine – thanks for joining in – i see you linked up your week 2 post. you can also link your week 1 and just label it Gemini Mum week 1 – then people will read both if you want! You can add links of any weeks as you do them and add them to the current open linky!


warina March 28, 2012 at 11:54 pm

I have just found this through a friend and am keen.
My top 5 are:
1. Balance – all areas of life
2. A a sense of Humour – we all should laugh more
3. See Beauty in everything and everyone
4. Be honest in all I do
5. Health – Exercise to control my anxiety and strengthen my body

There are a few more and those would be:
6. Awareness – to see whats going on with my loved ones
7. Loyalty – toward my loved ones
8. Gratitude for all I have & not focus on what I don’t have
9. Love and Understanding for my loved ones
10. Learn to Listen


Debra Dane March 29, 2012 at 6:42 am

Welcome. Those are wonderful values and I love how you expressed them.


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