For me, living a contemplative life started with determining my values. When a person comes to the understanding of what they value, it helps set the foundation for how a he/she lives their life. My beliefs are really only augments of what I value, and starting with that gave me the foundation I needed to really determine what was important to me.
Your values are the principles and standards of what you find most important to you, or perhaps even something that helps gives you meaning. These are items that ultimately produce a net gain, and not something that would detract from what it means for you to live a meaningful life.
I have found it easiest to break this up into three different areas:
These are the basis of who you are as a person and what helps you find the most meaning in life. These are things that come easiest to your mind, and often involve a connection with a close loved one or something that matters most to you. Personally, I find that growth, relationships, and health are the three things that I tend to focus on each day.
Augmented values, occasionally called core values, are the things that help you further define your foundational values. They often help you remember what is most important to you and help you further tease out what you are most passionate about. These sometimes include things such as contribution, cleanliness, learning, creativity, outdoors, biking, calligraphy, gardening, painting, etc.
Some mentors and coaches sometimes refer to this tier of values as more of obstacles. These are often things that we think add to our lives, but often they distract us from what is most important or even causes a great deal of harm. They are things that we are either shaping or they are shaping us. Some examples might include streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.), alcohol, tobacco, social media, fast food, mobile devices, etc.
It is important to be able to understand what these items are, and be willing to call them out and even be willing to seek accountability if they start to shape us in ways that do not shape us into the best versions of ourselves.
I created a worksheet to help guide you through the process of realizing what it is that you value.