What do we mean by values?
When we mention "values" we are not talking about abstract qualities like honesty, integrity, trust. We are not referring to a set of religious beliefs, a patriotic ideal, or a code of morality. They are probably not really your own personal values. Rather, they are what we call social idealisms: socially acceptable ways of thinking and behaving.
For our purposes, true values, are as specific to you as your fingerprint, your retinal pattern, and your voiceprint. Just think of which activities and relationships truly nourish your innermost being, those are your highest values.
Just as no one else can choose your fingerprints or alter the pattern of your retina, no outside authority—no parent, teacher, political leader, or religious figure—can define your values. Only you can look into your own mind, heart, and soul and discover what is truly most important to you.
...anytime you find yourself saying, “I should…,” “I need to…,” or “I really must…,” you can be pretty certain that you are talking about social idealisms or the values of some external authority instead of expressing your own true highest values. When you hear yourself saying, “I desire to…,” “I choose to…,” or “I love to…,” then you know that you are talking about a goal that is truly valuable to you.
Excerpts From: John F. Demartini. “The Values Factor.”