Make a list of your core values to become happier

How Making A List Of Your Core Values Can Make You Happier

Welcome back for day 11 of my Happy.Healthy.Whole project!

If you are just tuning in, I have committed to making a purposeful effort to improve my happiness and quality of life by changing my behavior, as well as reconsidering my mindset.

As part of this project I have challenged myself to share my journey with all of you by blogging for 25 days straight, until my birthday on October 30th. 

From there, I will continue to work on my Happy.Healthy.Whole Project goals, and update you on my progress and lessons that I’ve learned along the way.

It is my hope that by sharing this journey with me, that you will find some inspiration to actively pursue your own happiness, purpose, and passions as well!

If you’d like to catch up with my previous 10 days of the Happy.Healthy.Whole Project, you can do so here.

As for today, I will be exploring the topics of core values, virtues, and integrity. 

Sounds a bit heavy right? Don’t worry – I actually enjoyed this activity quite a bit, and I promise not to get all religious on you!

Let’s dive in.

Maximize your happiness by learning how to define and live up to your core values
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Why Should You Care About Core Values And Virtues?

That’s a fantastic question, and I am glad you asked! 

What Are Core Values And Virtues?

In day 1 of my Happy.Healthy.Whole project, I mentioned that Gretchen Rubin, the creator of the original Happiness Project, based her project on one that Benjamin Franklin did several hundred years ago.

Franklin had a very lofty goal of achieving moral perfection. He came up with a list of 13 personal virtues that he valued above all others, and then actively tried to embody those virtues, every day of his life.

Let’s pause for a moment, and define the word “virtue” before we go any further. defines “virtue” as “moral excellence; goodness; righteousness. Conformity of one’s life and conduct to moral and ethical principles.” 

So basically, virtues are strong values or beliefs about the way a person should act in order to be considered a “good person”.

The word “virtues” can sometimes take on a religious overtone, so many people these days use the term “core values” instead. You will see me use the terms of “virtue” and “core value” interchangeably. 

Okay now that we’ve got the terminology taken care of let’s continue.

If you’re curious (as I am), Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues were: temperance, silence, order, resolution, chastity, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, and humility.

What Is Integrity?

Integrity is defined by as “Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. The state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.”

What all these fancy words boil down to can be summed up in the following question:

Are your actions, thoughts, and current behaviors in line with your own values? 

If they are, that is referred to as living a life of integrity.

How Do Core Values And Integrity Affect Happiness?

When giving instructions for how her readers could start their own happiness projects, Gretchen Rubin suggests that her readers ask themselves a few questions, including: “Are you living up to your expectations for yourself? Does your life reflect your values?”

And Happiness expert and psychologist, Tal Ben-Shahar, gives the following advice in his book Happier:

“Determine whether or not there is congruence—integrity—between your highest values and the way you live. With increased integrity comes increased happiness.

So it seems that living up to our own values and expectations for ourselves play a significant role in our happiness.

I feel like this makes sense. If you value certain traits, but for whatever reason you aren’t living up to them, there is conflict between your actions, thoughts, and values. It makes sense that this conflict would lead to frustration, restlessness, and, you guessed it – unhappiness.

Since core values and integrity play an important role in happiness, I would be remiss if I didn’t see how I measured up against my own core values.

My Personal Core Values List

After much thought and introspection, I have settled on 10 virtues or core values which are the most important to me.

In alphabetical order, (because why not?) I have listed my core values and what they mean to me.


Courage is the ability to push the boundaries of my comfort zone and to take well-calculated risks for my own personal growth, even though the uncertainty might make me feel anxious or afraid. Courage is also about speaking up when I see something wrong in the world.


Diligence is the ability to work hard and give things my full effort, without trying to cut corners. Diligence is putting my head down and doing what must be done without complaint. It is synonymous with my “work ethic” and my willingness to roll up my sleeves and put forth effort to do the task at hand whether it is a hard one or an easy one.


Generosity is more than just being “nice”. To me, “nice” is a basic human courtesy. I want to embody more than being nice, or even kind, so I decided to go with “generosity” instead.

Generosity is unselfish. It is  caring for and accepting others for who they are. Generosity is  going above and beyond and being willing to do things for others out of the goodness of my heart rather than for any sort of personal gain.


Gratitude is the ability to recognize and appreciate the good things in my life. To be thankful for what I already have and the situation that I am currently in, despite the difficulties that I may face.

You may have heard that the grass is always greener on the other side. If you do not have gratitude, that saying may well be true. You may always think that whatever you DON’T have, is the thing that will make you the happiest.

But, if you have gratitude, you will understand that the grass is greener where you water it. If you are grateful with what you already have, then you can be happy now.


Growth is about always seeking to learn something new and improve myself. It is actively pursuing my goals, passions, and dreams. It is pursuing new experiences and adventures, as well as learning the lessons that everyday experiences have to offer.

“The most successful people are lifelong learners; they constantly ask questions and never cease to explore the wonder-filled world around them.”

– Tal Ben-Shahar


Honesty is about telling the truth and being straightforward with people. Honesty is refraining from lies, deceiving, or misleading others for my own gain or because it might be the easier thing to do.


Loyalty is offering my unwavering support or allegiance to a person, cause, or organization that I care about. It is standing by what I believe in, even if times may be tough.


Patience is the ability to stay calm and avoid getting frustrated, angry, or annoyed when things are not going as planned.


Perseverance or grit, is the ability to persist even when things get tough. It is the ability to push through difficulty with my head held high and not to give up even though the odds may be stacked against me.


My tenth and final virtue or core value is sincerity. This is the only virtue I have in common with Benjamin Franklin.

To be sincere, is to be authentic. It is to be vulnerable and transparent – to have no ulterior motives, to say what I mean and mean what I say. Unfortunately, I feel that sincerity is a rare virtue these days.


Living up to your own expectations and virtues (or core values) is an important part of happiness.

In summary, my 10 personal core values are:

  1. Courage
  2. Diligence
  3. Generosity
  4. Gratitude
  5. Growth
  6. Honesty
  7. Loyalty
  8. Patience
  9. Perseverance
  10. Sincerity

And that’s it for today! What would your core values be?

Tomorrow, on day 12 of my Happy.Healthy.Whole Project I will follow in the steps of someone I look up to, and evaluate:

  • To what extent I am (or am not) currently living up to my own core values and expectations of myself.
  • How I could better embody my core values in the future.

Thank you for following along!

Until tomorrow,

~ Clarissa

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Author: clarissa.cabbage

Clarissa is a teacher, a coach, and an avid adventurer! Armed with a master's degree in Exercise and Wellness, she is on a mission to teach people how to build healthier habits that support the adventurous lifestyle of their dreams. There is nothing Clarissa is more passionate about than helping people get active and live their lives to the fullest!

12 Replies to “How Making A List Of Your Core Values Can Make You Happier

    1. I am glad that you found this interesting and insightful Namrata! As they say, patience is a virtue, and of all of them, it’s probably the one that I have to work hardest at. Thanks so much for reading!

  1. This is so awesome! I’ve only recently gotten into journaling but it works! I feel like it’s almost manifestation in a way! Great post! Keep it up!

    1. Thank you Lauren! Those are all great core values. I especially like “acceptance” that’s a good catch all for self-acceptance, accepting others, and accepting the things that we can’t control. Thank you for following along with my journey and for adding to the conversation!

  2. Another great addition to your project Clarissa! My core values are quite similar, although I am famously known for my lack of patience. I am definitely working on it! Gratitude and growth are quite big for me right now.
    Looking forward to tomorrow’s post x

    1. Thank you Ellie! You will see in day 12 of my project that patience isn’t really my strong suit either. 😂😂 That’s okay, I know it and I am working on it. Thanks for sharing some of your core values with me!

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