4 Values That Govern Our Lives But Make Us Unhappy

· September 17, 2018

Like it or not, we live in a time where human values have taken a back seat. A huge part of the world and our lives revolve around power and money. The logic behind this has created a lot of resistance, but the values that govern us still remain in place.

Many times we assume that the current world’s logic is the only possible logic. But this simply isn’t the truth. Although the values that govern us are related to production and trade, we can also be critical of them and not allow them to completely rule over us.

It’s not that the values that govern us aren’t important. They are. The thing is, if we assume these values are the only correct ones, they end up limiting us. This leaves us feeling upset and dissatisfied. That’s why it’s important to identify those values and not allow them to invade all parts of our lives. These values govern us, but don’t make us happy. 

1. Efficiency

Today’s world demands efficiency. People constantly talk about the importance of achievement, the need to focus on our goals and successes. There’s nothing wrong with that. But what isn’t right is to put too much thought into these ideas. We shouldn’t value efficiency to the extreme that we let our lives revolve around it.

Value of efficiency.


Efficiency is a value that governs us because it helps keep the economy going strong. Companies want efficient people because it’s more profitable to have an efficient person in their ranks. Efficiency guarantees better work performance and gives you a privileged place in the company’s hierarchy.

However, that doesn’t mean that the most important thing about humans is their efficiency. We aren’t machines and, therefore, we are more or less efficient depending on the circumstances. That doesn’t make us any less valuable.

2. Productivity

Productivity has to do with the concrete results that we’re capable of generating. A productive person is someone who’s able to do something in a shorter period of time than others. They, in turn, receive more money or more benefits because of their productivity. A productive person is someone who’s “useful”. However, this “utility” is almost always referred to as an economic utility.

There’s “productive people”, “productive ages”, or “useful people”. What we don’t talk about is that human beings are much more than what they produce. We have to remember that we’re not money-making machines or machines to increase other people’s profitability. Focusing only on this means that a person’s importance is based on how much money they make or the quality of their work. If we only focus on these areas of our lives, we’ll never experience happiness.

3. Quantity

Today’s society is particularly obsessed with quantity. Everything is measured and the word “more” has become a religion for many. Unlimited things aren’t measured in terms of dreams or goals, but in terms of how much you can produce or accumulate. We have a good day if we accomplish “a lot”. We have a good year when we achieve “a lot”. A person’s life is appreciated when they’ve accomplished “many” goals.

Girl under a cloud of values.

How relevant is the amount of stuff we have or produce? It’s important usually in terms of the economy. It’s there where quantity becomes a value that governs us. From a more human perspective, quantity tends to butt heads with quality. A lot is done, a lot is achieved, or a lot is accumulated at the expense of sacrificing the deep sense of satisfaction when we accomplish or achieve something worthwhile.

4. Speed

Speed has become an objective in many areas. Getting everything to happen quickly is assumed to be “the right thing” or “the most efficient thing”. The idea is to be able to do more things in less time. That’s why taking a break or relaxing for 5 minutes makes some people feel anxious. Or taking more time to complete a task frustrates them.

Speed is another value that governs us but doesn’t lead to well-being. As with quantity, with speed things happen so fast that it makes us feel like we’re enslaved to our clocks. Speed is a good thing, but not when we become obsessed with it. Those who are obsessed with speed lose their ability to really experience every single moment. They also find it difficult to understand the meaning and importance of experiencing every single step of a process.

A girl floating.

Although all these values that govern us are important in today’s world, it’s important that we understand their meaning. We shouldn’t passively accept them simply because they’re what culture says is important.