What makes a good relationship? .... Values!

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, 
Your thoughts become your words, 
Your words become your actions, 
Your actions become your habits, 
Your habits become your values, 
Your values become your destiny.” 

 Mahatma Gandhi

 In my previous article “What makes a happy life?”, I talked about the longitudinal study of over 75 years on “What makes a good life” and the findings that a good relationship makes us happy and feel good.

In this article I would like to take a step further and discuss more about how can we have good quality relationships so that we feel fulfilled?

Despite the thousands of books on how to have a fulfilled relationship and life, fulfilment is still a personal experience and definition of fulfilment is also very personal. Having a fulfilled life by all means does not mean a life without struggle. People can be fulfilled even when there is struggle. Fulfilment is about who the person is becoming, it is about being fully alive.

The values that people hold play a critical role in having a fulfilled life. Like having a fulfilled life, everyone talks about values. Politicians promote them, companies engrave them, parents transmit them, and our environment shapes them. So what exactly are values? How do we portray our values? What happens when we have a life where we don’t live by our values?

Leonard et al (1997) defined values as those qualities, interests or aspects of life which have continuously drawn or attracted people since childhood. Values are "who we are.”   When we honour our values, there is a feeling of harmony. Values are like finger prints. They are products of our unique experiences, knowledge, feelings, preferences, etc. Our individual sense of values determines what we consider meaningful and important. If we are not clear about what is important for us, then we will have a difficulty in making decisions. 

As the world is constantly changing and people need to adjust to new situations, problems and opportunities, they might “choose” to tolerate these and compromise their values. This creates dissonance, tension, unhappiness and more importantly an unfulfilled life.

So, the key determinant of the quality of a relationship is how much both parties can live by their values when in the relationship. And this relationship could be between you and your partner or you and the company you work for or between you and your boss!

Within this context, how many of us is living a fulfilling live, having a good quality relationship? Above all how many of us is really, truly aware of what their values are?

Let’s discuss how value clarification would help us, in my next post.


Leonard, T. J., Talley, L. and Coach, U, Inc. (1997). The Dictionary. Available at: www.coachville.com