“If your skin is on the shiny side, stop by your local Starbucks, grab a handful of napkins, and shove them in your purse. They’re free,” suggested a beauty tip in a popular health magazine.  “Don’t feel guilty about pilfering from the coffee conglomerate.  If they charge $4 for java and steamed milk, they owe you a shine-free face.”

Do they?  Does a store owner or company owe you anything more than products your purchase in their store?  When does “free” become “theft?

“Authentic values are those by which a life can be lived which can form a people that produces great deeds and thoughts,” insists Alan Bloom, author of Closing of the American Mind.

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, adds, “A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.”

Does doing what members of Alcoholics Anonymous call “the next right thing” shift if we think we are justified, entitled, or in a position to get away with it without anyone else noticing? 

When Tiger Woods’s marriage crumbled in front of a global audience, he admitted, “I stopped living according to my core values.  I knew what I was doing was wrong, but thought only about myself and thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to.”

I have never seen personal commitment to one’s core values unravel so quickly as they do in posts across social media.  Political campaigns and discussion about controversial issues deteriorate into mudslinging, name-calling, and cyberbullying.  

When confronted with a moral choice, consider these two realities: (1) You are free to choose how we respond and (2) you are responsible for your choices.  Our choices are fueled by our core values.

Scott Rae, author of Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics, explains that when we experience a conflict of two or more value- or virtue-driven interests, we experience an ethical dilemma.

A study among college students revealed they choose role models who inspire others, possess clear core value, and demonstrate a desire to serve others (Price-Mitchell, 2010).  Who are your role models?  What qualities do your role models possess that are aligned with their values?

In order to make choices that are aligned with your core values, consider the following suggestions:

  • Think.  Consider all the options and consequences. Consider the impact of your decision on yourself, others, and your relationship with your spiritual or higher self. Allow quiet time to let your conscience speak to you.
  • Consult and compare.  How does your decision align with your personal beliefs? How would the decision you make that was aligned with your core values differ from a decision you would make if no one found out about your choice?
  • Talk to others.  Seek advice from a trusted individual if you are unsure of your choice and its impact on yourself or others.
  • Turn within for guidance.  What advise would you offer if someone came to you seeking guidance about the same dilemma?
  • Act. Make your choice and be confident that you have made the best choice possible with your formed conscience.

Use Your Core Values to Make Moral Decisions“Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness,” wrote Anne Frank.  Although the inspiring teen and her family were eventually discovered in hiding during World War II and imp

risoned in Bergen-Belsen, Anne’s core values guided her thoughts, words, actions – and beliefs.

Each day invites us into opportunities to become fuller expressions of the Divine. Our actions and words become models for those around us, and especially, for our children. Character-shaping programs in schools provide our children with opportunities to discover and discuss core values, but ultimately, the values our children learn and model will be the values they hear and see in the words and actions of those they admire.

What qualities and principles do you embrace that are grounded in your core values?


Young people learn how to act in ways that align with core values by watching adults. Set a positive example with tips from How to Be a Good Role Model.

Tune out old negative thoughts. Discover how to Replace Old Tapes with New Messages.

Turn a sad mood around with these suggestions from 8 Ways to Feel More Positive.


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