Values Are Our Chance To Live A Good And Honorable Life
Values are what we live by. We may not realize it but we all have them. On the whole they are the same or similar to those of other people. How much we stick to them and uphold them may be a difference between us and helps us to be the individual we are.
What we all have, if we think about it, is a set of them, a value system. This is a collection of rules, of principles, of standards by which we live our life. They help us to decide how to act, what to say, how to be in life. In fact one of the backbones of our life. One of our foundations. One of our life supporting systems.
But I don't have any principle . . . you might say
We all have them. Whether we view them as such is another thing. We may just see them as guides or guidance to help us act or live. We may not have paid much attention to them before. Or they are sitting there in the background almost hidden away. We feel we should do something, act a particular way and so we do. Where does that feeling come from. While a philosophic debate could ensue, does not this course of action take place because we feel a particular way about it. Our inner and hidden value system has come into play to direct our actions.
Never knew I had a value system . . .
That may be so and no problems. Over the years life and our experiences mould us. And we mould ourselves. We make choices. We are not the same person we were ten years ago. We have moved on. Our value system is evolving and growing, as we are. It will mature with us. And us with it.
Can I live without a system?
An interesting point? I would say not, but some may try. Are there not fundamental ideas, concepts that we all tend to live by. Do as you would be done by. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Respect others like you would want to be respected. These are excellent examples that we can all understand and relate too.
Whether we call or name something a rule or a standard, does that really matter? It is more than the label we place against it or the name we call it. They are far more than their label, just as we are far more than our name.
Most people strive to live a good life. Their principles or rules will reflect this stance. They would probably respect themselves for taking this line and trying to uphold it in daily life.
If anybody wishes to do wrong by others then their value system will reflect those choices, too. And their actions to others will be different. Whether they respect themselves for so doing only those people could answer.
What happens if I challenge a value or my set of principles?
Well, there will not be a bolt from the sky or instant retribution. That is not how life works is it. At first we would be going against our value system. We would be rebelling. But our actions would start to mould and change our value system.
We can have our own individual view of our values. They may be similar to those of another person, yet we each can view them a little differently. And challenge them. Yes, why not. What is the point of something if it is written in stone? Cannot be looked at. Cannot be changed. Cannot evolve.
Yes, we should be looking at the way we view our life and what we do. And the values and principles that we purport to live by. They should stand up to scrutiny and debate (if we so wish). For otherwise what is their use? And what is their use to us?
Our life, your life
We should shape our life around good, solid and strong principles. To give us substance. To give us something to support us. To give us help and guidance when we really need it.
But if we follow unchangeable rules, guidance that will not grow and develop as we do, then how can we trust it? Trust them? How can we live a life fashioned around something that does not grow, develop, and improve if necessary, along the journey that we are taking through life?
Can I just have my own?
Some values are held just by us, or in a combination that we hold dear. Others are personal to us in that we feel they are important enough to help guide us, but maybe held important by others, too. So they are personal to a number of people - being jointly held with or by a number of people. That can help us believe in them. However, we need to make our own mind up. That is our responsibility. We live our way; it is our responsibility to ensure that our way is a good and responsible one. For we need to take responsibility for our actions - thoughts, deeds and words.
I seem to need my value system a lot . . .
That's fine. If it helps you live your life then what is wrong with that? If you depend on your principles more than others why should that make you less good or less bad than the other person. What you do is your affair. How it affects others is your responsibility, but up to you. We all have to learn our place in life. But that place can change and flower over time. We can have periods of social activity and periods of individual experiences.
What is important is how we tackle life. What we do. What we achieve. What we give and how much we take. How much we can contribute. What we can contribute and of what value, to others and for the greater good.
Are they interconnected?
Sure, some are. Those values that support others are often called guiding principles. They offer the basis upon which other principles may be based.
Can they be outdated or outmoded?
Why not? Some values come and go. They have their time then become irrelevant as life moves on and changes. They may become outdated - out of their date or time. Bit like an expiry date, I suppose. Others may become outmoded. Perhaps replaced by something more relevant to the times or actions. More commonly accepted or acceptable than their older or previous counterpart.
But we should be careful to leave this principle behind. A lot of the old values have formed the basis of their more modern equivalent. A principle may move out of fashion we might say. If another more modern alternative is based upon this particular principle, then, though the old and valued precept has moved out of common use or thought, we would be wise not to dismiss the more modern alternative too easily.
It does not pay to ignore the past. It does not pay to not listen to our past (intended double negative). It does not pay to not listen to our elders and wise advisors. Listening is the easy part. Putting into practice what they might say and do, that is a little more difficult. And it may come at a price. We may have to barter something for it. We may have to give something of ourselves. And, depending upon circumstances, we have to decide if it is a price that we find worth paying.
And for us, our part?
What is our part in all of this? It is of little use to have a noble list of values or value system if we don't use them. Have an excellent and flexible list of principles and standards by which we could live our life - if we then decide to ignore them. If we decide to do the other thing, though, of course, that is still our prerogative.
But if we are serious about our life and our contribution to it, if we do change our mind and do something else, then we should spare a thought and some energy and effort at re-synchronizing our values or value system.
We ourselves may be resistant to change, or resistant to keeping our system up-to-date. But this is the essential servicing or maintenance that is required by us to ensure that what supports our actions is crisp, heart-felt and meaningful.
For otherwise we might as well bin the lot for what good it will do for us or our life.
And how should I feel?
We should know when we are doing the right and good thing. When we are leading our life in a good and wholesome direction for us. Unique to us. Individual to us. For we may be the only one treading our path. No one else. Though their path may intersect and cross ours on occasion, we are essentially walking our own path through life.
We should be aware of how we feel about things. How we feel our journey is going. How we feel what we do is contributing to life and the greater good. We should know when we feel comfortable and when we do not. We should know when we are acting in harmony with our way of life and life itself. It just feels good. It feels fine. We feel content. We feel happy.
And, should we know?
But equally we should know when this is not the case. We should know when our life is going in one direction and we seem to be pulling in another. We should know when we act in a way that makes us wonder, ponder, or think 'did we do the right thing?' At times this is just a natural response. Other times it may be more crucial. We should know when we are acting against our best interests, even if it is to try and aid or help someone else. That can be quite different from the action when we know we are rebelling against our principles or standards.
That feeling should be clear. It should raise a question mark within us. The warning bells should ring. When we hear them we need to take note. We need to take stock. Have we acted - in thought, word or deed - in a way that counters the values by which we wish to live our life?
This could be the catalyst that encourages the change that further moulds our system of principles or standards. But moulds it more to our liking. Or it could be more than that. It could be the thought we know we should act in a certain way, but we did not and we did act totally contrary to that.
We need then to find out why. Was it good what we did? Or not so good. Are we happy with what we did, happy and proud? Or do we feel 'sick to the stomach' or very uncomfortable. Then likely what we did was contrary to our belief or value system. Contrary to what we really wished we'd done, or how we would like to be treated ourselves.
We must make amends and be man/woman enough to do that. And we will be respected for that decision.
So the days go by. And our life with it. Decisions, actions, thoughts, deeds all go on. But what is our stimulus?
Our value system needs to be 'in gear' and ready. And we need to be in synch with it. We can then march forward into our life with courage, with confidence, being well motivated to act well. Ready to contribute fully, to enjoy our life and make it a meaningful and productive existence.