Where did your value system come from? Have you ever hauled it out into the light and given a thorough examination? Including the reflexive responses, the sub-routines that run in the background of your mind that you are barely aware of?
I once took a Logic class at the University of Florida and one assignment was to write out our “Philosophy of Life”. Easy peasy I thought… but it turned out it wasn’t… and, to a certain extent, what I wrote out wasn’t necessary what I was actually doing. That experience was a major motivator to living an examined life.
Most of us have a value system we picked up somewhat randomly from our family of origin, our peers, our experiences and our interpretation of them; the stories we tell ourselves about life are powerful drivers. These values are not necessarily “ours” in the sense that we would choose them if we were designing our lives from scratch nor are they necessarily coherent or aligned. Most likely they represent a mish mash of others’ values… others’ “gods” so to speak and they rule our life by default unless we deliberately, consciously take back control.
I am a firm believer in deliberately designing one’s life, in having a written plan, goal setting if you wish AND that the goals should cover all six major life roles and include spiritual and emotional mountain tops, not merely financial or worldly achievements. A powerful exercise is to write out your self-concept, who you think you are now and who you want to be.
I’ve long since lost that original freshman essay; today my “Philosophy of Life” is best expressed in a series of affirmations:
To live no ordinary life, to trip the light fantastic.
Be kinder than necessary, Respect all.
Bit by bit, better every day, helping others along the way.
My sense of self is anchored deep within, from that flows wonderful peace.
The best I can be, I must be. To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
I am a Radiant Optimist; I carry the Sun in my pocket, the Stars in my Heart.
Every action, every spoken word, teaches the value system that motivated it. At the close of every day, reflect upon the messages you sent, the values you taught. Are they in harmony with your best self, the self you aspire to be?
“Our value is the sum of our values.” – Joseph Batten, 1778-1837
“Good values are like a magnet – they attract good people.” – John Wooden, 1910-2010
“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do.” – Elvis Presley, 1935-1977
As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier