The phrase “values of the wise” can be a little confusing at first glance. Made less succinct but clearer, the phrase essentially means those values and virtues which wise persons throughout history and across many cultures tend to find worthy, good, and worth pursuing. In other words, these are the values which wise people possess. Well, this is arguable, but it is my belief. At least, these 28 values represent a sampling of good and useful values and virtues. Some values such as love, happiness, and a tolerance for ambiguity aren’t specifically included, but a list of 50 or 100 values would be unwieldy. I find evidence for these values and virtues being worthy and valid in the form of quotations.
I am Jason Merchey, the founder of Values of the Wise, a 14-year-old enterprise which aims to help people discover their true potential by putting their values first. VoW brings ancient wisdom and progressive thinking to life.
“Building a life of value” starts with understanding our own values, since they are the foundation of our actions. When we’re clear about our values, we become clear-thinking choice-makers, and the creative architects of our own lives.
As mentioned, the heart of Values of the Wise is quotations. I believe every quote that strikes a reader as “deep” or “spot-on” or “inspiring” or “thought-provoking” is probably about values. After all, few people are going to get jazzed about a quote pertaining to New York or to Bassett Hounds. But truth, wisdom, and fulfillment – those have the potential to quicken the pulse and encourage deep thinking!
Collected from numerous sources over half my life, the 35,000 quotations on values and virtues that comprise The Wisdom Archive are second to none as far as any one source is concerned. The organization, the searchability, the breadth is truly amazing.
These quotations can all be fitted into one ValueSet, which is a grouping of two or three values and virtues which cohere, or “go together.” For example, I believe that Truth & Justice is better categorization than, say, Joy & Truth, or Humor & Truth. There are 14 ValueSets. For example, Self-Confidence & Self-Worth.
Life is one giant classroom – and the teachers are all those who have been through what you are presently struggling with. They are offering their advice to you – it is completely up to you to hear if you are interested.
I welcome you to search the Wisdom Archive, look into the books that comprise the Values of the Wise Series of Books, or take one of two free tools to better help you understand which values and virtues are your strengths and which aren’t (and which moral theories you tend to use to make moral decisions). So, without further ado, here are the 28 values of the wise in 14 ValueSets:
- Knowledge, Wisdom & Education
Education leads to knowledge, yet wisdom is found within
- Respect, Tolerance & Modesty
You have nothing to lose by giving respect – and much to gain
- Fulfillment, Meaning & Optimism
Fulfillment and meaning make life worth living
Can you imagine how the wisdom and ideas of these great thinkers came to life for me? A quotation like “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” from this wonderful historical figure Eleanor Roosevelt provided solace, encouragement, and meaning right when I needed her.
- Humor, Lightheartedness & Acceptance of the Absurd
Humor can soften the lines that divide us
- Creativity, Ingenuity & Vision
See what is not readily apparent to the naked mind
- Dedication, Responsibility & Will
Strive to live your life at its highest potential
Without an understanding of what they value most, most people never seem to get their lives to come together. Or it all falls apart at the simplest of obstacles. Your core values – when you embrace the values that are inherently important to you — are your inner blueprint; there is no question of what happens first, second, and so on.
- Honor, Integrity & Morality
Decide what the right thing to do is, and then do it
- Liberty & Peace
Freedom and peace are two of the highest states of humankind
- Kindness, Magnanimity & Altruism
Believe in the possibility that we can rise to unimagined heights
What do Gandhi, Buddha, Helen Keller, Kahlil Gibran, Jefferson, Emerson, Harriet Tubman, and Confucius all have in common? They are all some of history’s greatest thinkers and philosophers, and they mastered the ability to use their inner talents, values and gifts to their fullest extent. The values they had, and the lives they built, were those that a wise person would.
- Self Confidence & Self Worth
Make as high an appraisal of your self as you truly can
- Development, Progressivism &Integration
Keep growing. It is wisdom that fosters development and progress
- Passion, Willingness to Risk & Self Awareness
Tune in to yourself, know what you feel, and take the risk
Throughout our lives we take on the beliefs and values of our parents, teachers, bosses, and other influences in society – only to neglect, forget about, or never truly identify our own values.
Without realizing it, the beliefs and values of others then become the blueprint you use for building your own life – even though they may not fit with what you really want or hold most important.
- Strength & Courage
Living by your ideals is by no means easy
- Truth & Justice
A better understanding of what is true can assist us in deciding what is just
Of course I want you to spend hours and hours over the next year on this website, but if you want to branch out into a bit more structured approach toward understanding philosophy, try The Partially Examined Life.