Values are the set of beliefs and principles that guide our behavior and shape our character. They are essential to our lives, as they help us to make sense of the world around us, and to make decisions about how to respond in different situations. Read here for some quotations about values and their importance.

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Religion is a shared quest for the values of the good life, the age-long, groping effect of [humanity] to create the social order in which human powers may flower in joyous fulfillment.

— A. Eustace Haydon

In my mid-term vision, movements prioritize building the capacity, skill and wide hearts to receive new comrades, while practicing daily and deeply what it means to sustain our relationships and collective visions, uphold our values, and adapt towards purpose. We find ways to bond that aren’t limited to pettiness, gossip, cliquishness, which can be so fun and then so destructive. We get skilled at critique that deepens us, conflict that generates new futures, and healing that changes material conditions.

— adrienne mariee brown, We Will Not Cancel Us

You can’t be value free when it comes to marriage.

— Al Gore

We humans, through old habits, and because of the inherent structure of human knowledge have a tendency to make static, definite, and, in a way, absolutistic one-valued statements. But when we fight absolutism, we quite often establish, instead, some other dogma equally silly and harmful. For instance, an active atheist is psychologically as unsound as a rabid theist.

— Alfred Korzybski

When we self-regulate well, we are better able to control the trajectory of our emotional lives and resulting actions based on our values and sense of purpose.

— Amy Leigh Mercree

Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.

— Barbara De Angelis

The ordinary surroundings of life which are esteemed by men (as their actions testify) to be the highest good, may be classed under the three heads — Riches, Fame, and the Pleasures of Sense: with these three the mind is so absorbed that it has little power to reflect on any different good.

— Baruch Spinoza

My activism did not spring from my being gay, or, for that matter, from my being black. Rather, it is rooted fundamentally in my Quaker upbringing and the values that were instilled in me by my grandparents who reared me.

— Bayard Rustin

Dominator culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, reveling in our differences; this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community.

— bell hooks, Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope

If principle is good for anything, it is worth living up to.

— Benjamin Franklin

May you grow up to be righteous, may you grow up to be true. May you always know the truth and see the lights surrounding you. May you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong. May you stay forever young.

— Bob Dylan

There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.

— Booker T. Washington

While schadenfreude may be fun to say and it’s an increasingly used term in the United States, it’s a tough emotion. There’s a cruelty and insecurity about it. Taking pleasure in someone else’s failings, even if that person is someone we really dislike, can violate our values and lead to feelings of guilt and shame. But, make no mistake, it’s seductive, especially when we’re sucked into groupthink.

— Brené Brown

Every Black person you meet is a miracle… We are valuable because of our humanity and declared valuable because our ancestors declared our worth when they fought for us to live.

— Brittany Packnett

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.

— C. S. Lewis

Beliefs and values that have held sway for thousands of years will be questioned as never before.

— Carol P. Christ

A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.

— Charles Darwin

Let us revere, let us worship, but erect and open-eyed, the highest, not the lowest; the future, not the past!

— Charlotte Perkins Gilman

If you want to live an authentic, meaningful life, you need to master the art of disappointing and upsetting others, hurting feelings, and living with the reality that some people just won’t like you. It may not be easy, but it’s essential if you want your life to reflect your deepest desires, values, and needs.

— Cheryl Richardson

It is the logic of consumerism that undermines the values of loyalty and permanence and promotes a different set of values that is destructive of family life.

— Christopher Lasch

Conservatives have no understanding of modern capitalism. They have a distorted understanding of the traditional values they claim to defend.

— Christopher Lasch

Never, ‘for the sake of peace and quiet,’ deny your own experience or convictions.

— Dag Hammarskjold

In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remark’d, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary ways of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when all of a sudden I am surpriz’d to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is however, of the last consequence. For as this ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, ‘tis necessary that it shou’d be observ’d and explain’d; and at the same time that a reason should be given; for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it.

— David Hume, known as the naturalistic fallacy

The shaping of deeply felt values into meaningful, apposite form, is present in all communities, and will find some means of expressions among all.

— Dell Hymes

It is no longer enough to be smart — all the technological tools in the world add meaning and value only if they enhance our core values, the deepest part of our heart. Acquiring knowledge is no guarantee of practical, useful application. Wisdom implies a mature integration of appropriate knowledge, a seasoned ability to filter the inessential from the essential.

— Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman

Dignity is not the same as respect. This is the most common misconception that I encounter when introducing the concept to people and organizations. Dignity is something we are born with—it is our inherent value and worth.

— Donna Hicks

Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave ’em all over everything you do.

— Elvis Presley

All human eyes have longing in them.

— Ernesto Cardenal

People must cherish their own values and appreciate the values of others. When all values come together, the world becomes a single unified entity.

— Fei Xiaotong

All sciences are now under the obligation to prepare the ground for the future task of the philosopher, which is to solve the problem of value, to determine the true hierarchy of values.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

Scientific theories never dictate human values, but they can often cast new light on ethical issues. From a sexual selection viewpoint, moral philosophy and political theory have mostly been attempts to shift male human sexual competitiveness from physical violence to the peaceful accumulation of wealth and status. The rights to life, liberty, and property are cultural inventions that function, in part, to keep males from killing and stealing from one another while they compete to attract sexual partners.

— Geoffrey Miller

A person of good intelligence and of sensitivity cannot exist in this society very long without having some anger about the inequality – and it’s not just a bleeding-heart, knee-jerk, liberal kind of a thing – it is just a normal human reaction to a nonsensical set of values where we have cinnamon flavored dental floss and there are people sleeping in the street.

— George Carlin

Stigmas are the corollaries of values. If work, independence, responsibility, respectability are valued, then their converse must be devalued, seen as disreputable.

— Gertrude Himmelfarb

We can tell our values by looking at our checkbook stubs.

— Gloria Steinem

Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on “I am not too sure.”

— H.L. Mencken

Everyone should carefully observe which way his heart draws him, and then choose that way with all his strength.

— Hasidic saying

We must learn to detach ourselves from all that is capable of being lost, to bind ourselves absolutely only to what is absolute and eternal, and to enjoy the rest as a loan.

— Henri-Frederic Amiel

Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end.

— Henry David Thoreau

I know wherein our most basic value judgments are rooted — in compassion, in our sense of the suffering of others.

— Herbert Marcuse

At every turn when there has been an imbalance of power, the truth questioned, or our beliefs and values distorted, the change required to restore our nation has always come from the bottom up from our people.

— Howard Dean

Moral leadership emerges from, and always returns to, the fundamental wants and needs, aspirations, and values of the followers.

— James MacGregor Burns

Two types of choices seem to me to have been crucial in tipping the outcomes [for a culture] towards success or failure: long-term planning and willingness to reconsider core values. On reflection we can also recognize the crucial role of these same two choices for the outcomes of our individual lives.

— Jared Diamond

Whether we grow more gross, more selfish, more grasping, more vulgar, more dishonorable, or whether we grow more delicate, more tender, more sympathetic, more aspiring, or more affectionate does not depend on whether we think the mind quantitative or qualitative. It depends on what we think of the values of those qualities. And I for one choose so-called spiritual qualities of mind and character because for me they contain the most enduring and highest joys of earth. Therefore, in this practical sense I am a firm believer in the spiritual life. And when I use the term as I frequently do, it is in this sense that I use it.

— John Dietrich

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

— John F. Kennedy

We have come a long way in America because of Martin Luther King, Jr. He led a disciplined, nonviolent revolution under the rule of law, a revolution of values, a revolution of ideas. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a distance to go before all of our citizens embrace the idea of a truly interracial democracy, what I like to call the Beloved Community, a nation at peace with itself.

— John Lewis

[Utilitarianism] defines persons as what we may call “bare persons.” Such persons are ready to consider any new convictions and aims, and even to abandon attachments and loyalties, when doing this promises a life with greater overall satisfaction, or well-being. . . . The notion of a bare person . . . represents the dissolution of the person as leading a life expressive of character and of devotion to specific final ends and adopted (or affirmed) values which define the distinctive points of view associated with different (and incommensurable) conceptions of the good.

— John Rawls

A thing is worth what it can do for you, not what you choose to pay for it.

— John Ruskin

Most of what we take as being important is not material, whether it’s music or feelings or love. They’re things we can’t really see or touch. They’re not material, but they’re vitally important to us.

— Judy Collins

Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.

— M. Scott Peck

Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.

— Malcolm Forbes
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