Our lives, our day to day experiences of pleasure, pain and all that we have ever felt, touched, created, or uncreated have occurred as components of an ongoing process of evolution. Values are how we decide whether our actions are good or bad, right or wrong. Our values determine how we feel about our actions and those of others, and are the primary motivating force behind our actions.
Regardless of whether we are consciously aware, our values do often change over time and are stacked in our subconsciousness as a hierarchy, with the values we hold as most important overriding decisions that are based on values that are less important to us. Each of us has unique models of the world; an internal representation of how the world is, and how the world should be. Our values have shaped this model. If, when we communicate with ourselves or others, our model of the world is inconsistent with our values or their values, there is likely to be a conflict. Values are those things we often don’t live up to. Values are those ideals in which we are willing to invest time, energy, and resources to either achieve or avoid. At the core of our various attractions or repulsions in life, stand our values. They are generalizations about deep belief systems, which we hold in our subconscious or conscious minds about what is important and what we evaluate as good or bad.
The wisdom of the ages as well as our own experience teaches us that individual and collective happiness is connected to, if not the direct product of, behavior that is governed by moral values. It is no coincidence that the sages and seers of different cultures and countries have taught the same basic values.
Repeatedly ancient and indigenous tradition reminds us that we determine our destiny by determining how and to what degree we progress along our evolutionary path. This is a time of tremendous shifts in human consciousness. Never has there been a time when our value system and development of strong moral character has been more important. One way to do this is to look at your value and morality systems.
By consciously evaluating our innermost feelings and beliefs, we can begin to develop and identify our core values. These values will guide us in our interactions with life, the world, and our relationships with others. They will assure that our thoughts and actions will be consistent and predictable. As we continue the journey of life, our values may change as we grow emotionally and spiritually, and the process of evaluation should also continue. We should expand and refine those values that serve us and discard those that are no longer useful.
By values I mean the standards of our actions and the attitudes of our hearts and minds that shape who we are, how we live, and how we treat other people. Good values, of course, shape better people, better lives, and better treatment of others. By morality I mean behavior that is inherently right and that helps rather than hurts other people.
So much of life has to do with getting. Values, in contrast, have to do with being and with giving. It is who we are and what we give rather than what we have that makes up our truest inner selves. Values of being begin with the development of a quality or an attitude within ourselves that determines how we behave and how we treat others.
Values of giving originate as gifts to others and then go on to influence who we are. Often, we identify the act of giving as an act of giving something away or giving something of ourselves. In truth, when you practice the art of giving, whether that giving results in a transfer of something tangible or whether it is in spirit or heart, the giver actually receives something substantial as a result.
Values must be personal, I don’t want to convert you to any particular value but I’d like to share some of the values of being and giving that I personally hold. Please use this as an opportunity to reassess your own values and your own thoughts about values.
Strive to be honest with other individuals, with institutions, with society, with self. This creates the inner strength and confidence that is bred by exacting truthfulness, trustworthiness, and integrity.
Dare to attempt difficult things that are good. Have strength not to follow the crowd, to say no and mean it, and influence others by actions and decisions. Be true to convictions and follow good impulses even when they are unpopular or inconvenient. Have the boldness to be outgoing and friendly.
Self-Reliance & Potential
Have the awareness to develop our gifts and uniqueness. Take responsibility for our own actions. Overcome the tendency to blame other for difficulties. Commit to personal excellence.
Self-Discipline & Moderation
Practice physical, mental, and financial self-discipline. Employ moderation in speaking, in eating, and in exercising. Control one’s own appetites. Avoid the dangers of extreme unbalanced viewpoints. Utilize the ability to balance self-discipline with spontaneity.
Create calmness, peacefulness, and serenity in our environment. Understand rather than argue. Understand that differences are seldom resolved through conflict and that meanness in others is an indication of their problem or insecurity and thus of their need for your understanding. Work to understand how others feel rather than simply reacting to them. Losing control of our temper will only create more conflict.
Be loyal to family, employers, employees, country, church, school, and other organizations and institutions to which commitments are made. Being loyal does not necessarily mean being in agreement. Rather it involves being loyal to the spirit of your relationship with another, with yourself, and with the best interests in those relationships.
Demonstrate our reliability to others because of our integrity, truthfulness, and trustfulness. This value will reinforce to others that they can depend on us. Reliability and consistency in doing what you say you will do over time establishes your ability to be dependable.
Respect life, property, parents, elders, nature, and beliefs and rights of others. Treat others with courtesy and politeness. Have respect for yourself and avoid self-criticism.
Love is the individual and personal caring that goes both beneath and beyond loyalty and respect. Challenge yourself to love self, friends, neighbors, and even adversaries. Make it a priority for lifelong commitment of love for humankind.
Kindness & Friendliness
Being kind and considerate is more admirable than being tough or strong. Have a tendency to empathize rather than confront. Be gentle, particularly toward those who are younger, weaker, or need compassion.
Unselfishness & Sensitivity
Be more heart centered and less self-centered. Learn to feel with and for others. Have empathy, tolerance, brotherhood, and sensitivity to needs of people and situations.
Justice & Mercy
Obey the laws of the land and the universe. Be fair in work and play. Understand natural consequences and the law of the harvest; you reap what you sow. Have mercy and forgiveness and an understanding of the futility of carrying a grudge.
The values I have listed are important to me, but are certainly not the only values of being and giving. I hope this has given you some food for thought so that you might take some time to quietly consider what your own values are. I also hope that you will incorporate your values in your relationships and in your life journey.
VALUES OF BEING (who we are)
- Self-Reliance & Potential
- Self-Discipline & Moderation
VALUES OF GIVING (what we give)
- Kindness & Friendliness
- Unselfishness & Sensitivity
- Justice & Mercy