Values in Relation to Ikigai

Have you ever contemplated the things that you really value in life? Is it vital for us to establish our values? Dr. Caitlin Kight talks about the importance of having values in our lives and how ikigai gives people a way of putting their values in the center of all things and understanding them.

Nick: You touched on values, and I know that's one area, you did some work related to ikigai, I think you presented values in relation to ikigai to teachers. How did that go and how was that received?

Caitlin: I really want to have a conversation with colleagues about values. And what I find really frustrating is that often, people don't seem to think that it's very interesting or very exciting. So often have a session on values, you only get a couple of people which has been the case with me.

So I have a couple of colleagues in particular, who are really interested in values, and these are folks actually who do a lot of work in ethics. So I've got a colleague who's on an ethics committee for our department, and I've got another who helped set up an ethics conference. 

People who deal with ethics on a daily basis, really understand how important values are because values inform ethical decisions. So when you're sitting there filling out ethical paperwork, it's kind of it's right in your face. I think a lot of people don't just in the daily course of things, they don't think, what are my values? And how are my values manifesting what I'm doing? And that is true of me as well.

I'm not saying that I walked around with this right in front of me at all times. And I actually think that's really fascinating. I actually think if you look at schooling all the way down to little kids, we don't really, especially not in the way that they used to back in ancient times, we don't say here are the values we want you to have. 

Now, in some cases, those values are embedded throughout. So this is what I referred to with the hidden curriculum. So by talking about certain things, or excluding certain things, or discussing stuff in a certain way, we are absolutely touching on values. But we don't necessarily explicitly say right, one through 10, here are the values you should have.

I think we try to not do that because we know that we live in this diverse culture, we don't want to be top-down. In theory, teachers don't. I think the system, this is a whole other discussion, I think the system is a bit more controlling. But teachers I think try to generally be open.

But what we don't necessarily do is say, right, whatever the values are, here is how you go about interrogating them, here is how you can think about what your own values are, and understand how that impacts your life. And I find that really amazing, because this is kind of fundamentally important, right.

I certainly had a family where we had discussions about values, and it was quite clear what the values were. So I always felt that I had a pretty good hold on how to think about values. I think a lot of people don't have that. And that's not a critique, I think it's kind of fallen out of practice because people aren't as religious, and that used to happen in religion much more.

So now we just don't typically sit around the dinner table talking about these things, and an understanding of what our own values are. If you also don't have an understanding of how to figure out those values, then you might find that you're consistently making decisions that are just all over the place. 

You're not really putting yourself on the life path that you want, you're not ending up where you want to be, things don't really feel satisfying, because they're not quite right in some way. What I really like about ikigai, is that it gives you this way of really putting that right in the center of all things. Because it's acknowledging, yes, this is fundamentally important, you need to tap into that and know what it is that you care about, and order those things so that you can make those choices in a deliberate fashion. 

You see how that links up to your relationships. You see how it links up to your job, and so on. And I really liked the fact that it pulls all of those things together and shows especially how values run through all of them, and just really gives people an easy and quick way to say okay, here's how I can figure this out. And here's how I can organize my life around that.

 


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