This post is part of my
2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.
Wednesday, May 3, 2023
Yesterday Ralph gave me a Personal Values Assessment test. Two of them, in fact, both online. I don’t know why, he didn’t specify. I suspect it was one of those things you find and they seem interesting so you bookmark them and tell yourself you’ll check it out except you don’t and those bookmarks sit there and nag at you and remind you that you haven’t done the thing you said you would do so you decide to just do it already and stop taking up brain space thinking about doing it.
We’ve been organizing like that lately.
Anyway, he shared the tests with me and we both took them.
One is here. They want to sell you job placement type of stuff but the test is free and unless you want to “save” your results for later (hint: just bookmark the link or screen shot it) then you don’t have to put in any personal information to take it.
The other is here. I don’t know what they’re selling, but it is also free and you don’t have to put in any personal information to take it.
Go ahead and take them, I’ll wait.
You can come back when you’re done and compare your results with mine. Or reality, whichever you prefer.
Doo do dodo dadadadadum doodoo dadadododo
Yes, I’ve been brokenhearted, blue since the day we parted.
This is me waiting.
Good, because my test results indicate that I need you to bestow a riches of praise and gold coin upon me, and it’s been a few minutes since that happened so I need you back.
According to test number one, my predominate value is hedonism. And I took it twice.
Here is what it said about that:
People who value hedonism want to enjoy life fully. They believe that pleasure and sensuous gratification for oneself are the main components of well-being. Valuing hedonism is also generally related to avoiding suffering and discomforts.
Here is what the dictionary definition is:
living and behaving in ways that mean you have as much pleasure as possible, according to the belief that the most important thing in life is to enjoy yourself
the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life
Wow. That’s so…
WHAT THE HECK ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT?
First of all, find me a person who doesn’t want to enjoy life and avoid suffering and I’ll show you a Buddhist monk. Or someone who’s lying. Quite possibly a lying Buddhist monk.
Second of all, most of what I do is about making life easy and good for other people, which often includes making it less easy and good for myself. Not that I’m some sacrificial lamb with purely altruistic tendencies but I pay a LOT of attention to how other people feel about things and whether or not they’re happy.
A large chunk of my happiness comes from seeing other people happy. It’s been pointed out to me on more than one occasion that the proper term for that is “doormat.”
Ralph doesn’t think there is anything wrong with coming up hedonistic twice. So what, I like nice things. But this does not jibe with how I see myself. So maybe the problem is – drumroll please – that I am not living in accordance with my real values!
I suddenly feel the need to go on a Bacchanalian adventure. All these years I haven’t had a cocktail before noon, and the only thing I accomplished was failing to live up to my own values!
I’m not arguing with the premise that I want to actually enjoy my life, that I like good food and good drinks and happy times. But I wouldn’t say it is the driving force behind everything I do. Occasionally I like to do the right thing and be kind and generous and useful.
I insulted my own sensibilities yesterday.
To be fair, I think the questions are… hm… what’s the technical term for it… bullshit?
I am about to do spoilers so if you haven’t taken the test yet, consider yourself warned.
For test number one, you are asked to order four statements according to how closely you identify with a group of people who believe in them.
Here’s a good one.
Let’s see. Keeping up with customs is not high on my list, though if you call them “traditions” they’re fun to talk about and occasionally relive. The day I want to “protect the social order” please just shoot me. Thank you, George Orwell. And it would be pretty boring to be in a group of people whose sole concern is to make sure other people don’t think they’re doing something wrong. Now that has doormat written all over it.
So what am I left with? Ok, I want money and nice things! Cool.
I’m a hedonist.
This one is precious.
There is nothing more boring than impressive people. I met a few of those recently, who had to tell you about their amazing lives and exciting adventures and myriad accomplishments. Impressive people don’t talk to you, they talk at you.
I’m on board with living in a safe country but on the whole, as a resident of the United States, I am not lying in bed at night wondering if something will blow up.
And while I do like people to be happy, I am not particularly interested in being in a group of people who won’t raise their voices or play their pianos or stridently express their opinions because it might irritate someone.
So… yeah, I’ll be in a group of people who like to have fun, sure!
I’m a hedonist.
In good news, my second most prevalent value was benevolence. So I’m a pleasure-seeking sybarite but at least I’m not selfish about it.
The second test was a little more boring. Turns out that I also value family, curiosity, peace, health, and personal growth.
“Pleasure” crept in there, too. Sue me!
But it still asked stupid questions. You are asked to choose between two values, noting the one you value more.
Wonder which one of these makes me a hedonist…
Another conundrum to be sure…
Would I rather be an inept fool in a just world, or have a reasonable skillset as lord of the flies?
It’s the boat question for a generation of social media addicts. You’re in a sinking boat with your parents/kids/some other important people in your life and you have to throw one overboard TO DIE in order to save the rest. Which person do you kill?
How about no. How about this is not a thought experiment I want to participate in. How about there is no world in which I throw anyone out of a boat.
How about I never get in a boat again, ok?
It’s so reductive. So you make a choice between your health and your friends, and then what, you get categorized into Slytherin or Gryffindor?
All of these questions are situational and dependent, and by the way not objective when you are looking at a screen and someone is forcing you to decide whether it’s more important to be trustworthy or to not be dying of cancer.
I think this idea of reducing your values to a choice between two arbitrary ideas is nonsense. And binary. That’s a hot word these days but it’s useful when exploring whether you are “this thing” or not this thing. Where “not this thing” always equals the opposite of this thing.
You are benevolent or not. You value family or don’t.
Then you identify with these idiot things and career choices get based on this? Employment opportunities get based on this? At least one of those websites purports to tell you what kind of employer/employee you should look for.
Have to say, I’m glad the owner of Kiwi School didn’t base his decision to hire me on the results of a values assessment. I don’t think hedonism would have played well to a bunch of parents of kindergartners.
You take a test and it tells you that you value creativity. Great! I will create magical things!
But oh, I can’t be at a desk paying bills or doing this boring thing to make money, I need to create!
Now you’re looking for confirmation bias. Look, I’m so creative, I put cheese on my toast! Honor me. Just don’t give me boring work.
These tests are like an itch under my skin.
But they are not totally without value.
In the absence of something creative to do, it’s mildly interesting to sit at your desk for a half hour repeating values tests until you get a result you like.
Mostly I think it’s a good stepping stone to examining your actual values. Not with a test, but by actually thinking about what you want out of life, and what is important to you. It is important to decide what you will or won’t do at the expense of something else.
When are you willing to compromise and what’s non-negotiable? And what day of the week is it? I mean, let’s be honest and say that you probably value your health a little more on Monday morning when the diet starts than you do on Friday night at the bar.
Anyway, as there is a dearth of gold coin being showered upon me at this moment, I need to go find something to do that will be pleasurable. If Ralph were to pour me a glass of bourbon right now, I wouldn’t be mad about it. So maybe those tests aren’t completely wrong after all. At least he knows I’d be benevolent enough to share the bottle with him.
Photo: hedonism at its finest. The wine-and-cheese spread at JJ’s Wine Bar here in Franklin, Tennessee. Bet you wish that was one of your values right now, don’t you?