Personal values are the measuring sticks by which we determine what is a successful and meaningful life.
When somebody says, “I want to be good,” that definition of what is “good” is a reflection of what they value. Some will see “being good” as attaining money. Others will see it as building a family. Others will see it as having a lot of exciting experiences. Whatever it is, it is determined by our personal values.
Therefore, you cannot talk about self-improvement without also talking about values. It’s not enough to simply “grow” and become a “better person.” You must define what a better person is. You must decide in which direction you wish to grow. Because if you don’t, well, we might all be screwed.
A lot of people don’t realize this. A lot of people obsessively focus on being happy and feeling good all the time—not realizing that if their values suck, feeling good will hurt them more than help them. If your biggest value in the world is snorting Vicodin through a swirly straw, well, then feeling better is just going to make your life worse.