Power of having the correct value systems

In this world, it is quite common to see an unhappy/unsatisfied millionaire and a happy/content beggar. Why does this happen? What makes a millionaire unhappy? Doesn’t he have a million dollars?

As humans, our happiness depends upon our value system. It depends upon the way we evaluate ourselves. Our happiness depends upon the metric on which we evaluate ourselves. The unhappy millionaire might be comparing himself to people who are wealthier than him, while the poor guy might be happy that he has enough to feed his family. The millionaire might be focusing on what he does NOT possess, while the poor might be focusing on what he actually possesses.

What is a Good Value System?

A good value system is such that it is under your control. It is in general behavior based. Since it is under your control it is comparatively easier to be happy based on that metric (value system). This helps you keep up the momentum. Why? Because you are experiencing happiness every day or every few days. And any behavior which makes you happy is easier to repeat. A good value system replenishes you.

A bad value system, on the contrary, drains you. It is based on some event which is not under your control. It is in general event based or based on the behavior of other people. The chances of that event happening is unknow, it is uncertain. It is difficult to predict or control the behavior of people around you. It ensures that you are always anxious and always under pressure. This means that a bad value system has a negative effect, it drains you with anxiety.

An Example

For example, let’s say you want to improve your health. In this case example of a good value system is – Hitting the gym atleast 3 times a week. Bad value system is – Losing 10kg weight as soon as possible.

First Case

In the first case, all you need to do is go to the gym at least 3 times a week and you are happy (in your mind). Here you are basing your happiness on your behavior / your input. Lets say you stick to the schedule for 2 weeks, you will be very happy. Since you are happy with your progress/performance, it will be easy to repeat this behavior. This ensures that you keep hitting the gym regularly which will result in your getting healthy and losing weight.

Second Case

In the second case, you will be a happy only when you lose 10 kg of weight. Here you are basing your happiness on an External Event / on the outcome. You cannot control when this event happens.

Now losing this much weight requires you to keep training for a decently long amount of time. Let’s say you start hitting the gym and since you are basing your happiness on the amount of weight loss, you will be a failure in initial stages. After 2 weeks you would have only lost a measly few grams. So as per your value system, you will be unhappy and worried. So continuing this behavior is going to be harder and harder as time goes.

First Value system replenishes you and the Second value system drains you.

So if you want to lose weight, ironically, your best bet is to NOT focus on losing weight. Your best bet is to focus on sticking to a schedule and maintaining the schedule.

Another Example

Lets take another example. Say I want to start a blog and make it successful. In this case, example of a good value system is – Writing 200 words per day. Example of a bad value system is – Getting to 1000 visitors per day.

First Case

In first case, I can rearrange my schedule and ensure that I end up writing 200 words a day. This value system is behavior based / input based. If I can regularly provide the input, I will be a happy person (as per my brain). So the day I write 200 words, I will be happy. This ensures that it is easy to repeat this behavior again and again.

Second Case

In the second case, my happiness is based on the amount of traffic I get. Since I don’t control/know when I get to the desired level of traffic, I will be anxious/worried/ unhappy until I get to my goal. Now making a blog successful is a marathon and if you don’t put in the effort for a long stretch of time, you are unlikely to be a success. This second value system is negative and it drains you of energy. You are basing your happiness on an external event/outcome which you do not control. So it will be harder and harder to keep working on your blog.

So if you want to make the blog a success, Ironically, your best bet is to not worry about traffic, but to ensure that you create a schedule and stick to it.


The best value system are behavior / input based while the worst value system are outcome based. The best value system focus on what you can do today / what you possess today while the worst value system focus on what you dont have / on what you cannot control.

The Best Value systems replenish you and the Worst Value Systems drain you.

Success in any field requires sustained effort for a long stretch of time. So if you have a positive value system, then it will make the journey to success easier and more rewarding.


The idea for this post germinated after a chat with Varun (my partner). The content of the post was inspired by writing of Mark Manson

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