It’s not easy to avoid the comparison game when meeting friends or talking to colleagues at work. We are all in a race but we don’t want to cross the same finish line. It is commonly our values that guide our path and tell us which course to take. Values evolve over time and are influenced by various factors. In the end, what we become is often predictable; it is primarily our values that set a course from which it is difficult to deviate.
The course and the wind
If you decide to adopt a certain number of principles, this gives you a course like a boat, the sea representing life and the wind and waves the obstacles you may encounter. When you meet new people, your beliefs may be shaken up a bit.
The need to leave the family cocoon exposes us to a multitude of influences that can interfere with our choice of values. There is an opportunity to reaffirm our own principles in the encounter with otherness. However, it is also possible to give in to certain tendencies. To avoid falling into this trap, it is desirable to know how to regularly remind ourselves of the principles according to which we commit ourselves to live.
The frame of reference implies a hierarchy
When we are confronted with others, we become aware of a difference in the priority of our values. This is not serious in itself, it is what makes us unique. To give more importance to a particular value, we must necessarily neglect another aspect of our life. For example, if you cherish freedom more than anything else, it makes sense to lose a little of an opposite value like security.
Two people with opposite values cannot advise each other
It is futile to ask for advice from people who follow a different path. Necessarily, you will get ideas that do not correspond to the path you have chosen. It is much better to refrain from asking and find a solution in books or from the few people who embrace the same hierarchy of values.
A little solitude never hurts to take stock
Being too immersed in a crowd of people, whether at school, at work, or elsewhere, one can develop the same desires as the people one is with. This is why it is necessary to take a step back and distinguish among the desires that we have developed those that are in reality the result of a simple influence and a desire to belong to a group.
Values materialize in action
If values are born in the mind and heart, it is through action that they take shape. Someone who has an imperfect assimilation of his values may act in a way that is inconsistent with the ideas he claims to hold. The best way to see our commitment to our values and goals is simply to look at the scope of our actions and measure them against our values. The gap between these two aspects is our room for improvement.
Assimilate and practice one value at a time
A single value can have positive collateral consequences if applied. For example, if you choose to stop lying, you will develop your honesty. It is difficult to embody several new values at once. It is wiser and more effective to build your value system gradually. By reading, reflecting and acting with a chosen value, we become better able to make it permeate our whole being and soul.
Take into account feedback from our mentors
Some people have more influence on us than others because they embody the values we are trying to develop. If these people are part of our entourage, it is good to observe them and to listen carefully to the criticisms they might make of us. On the other hand, if we are not lucky enough to be close to these people because they are famous, we can decide to read or follow the details of their life, especially by reading their biography and interview so that we get a more concrete idea of their mind. Having in mind some specific anecdotes about them concerning the difficult choices they had to make is a definite asset for our decision making.
Sometimes a value is enough
Since there are cardinal values, i.e., the origin of others, it is sometimes sufficient to concentrate all our efforts on one of them. If you decide to make faith or the search for truth the pillar value of your existence, you will reap the consequent benefits it brings. It is better to have one cardinal value assimilated and solid than 10 non-cardinal values assimilated in an imperfect way.
If you can’t control your thoughts, control your actions
Since it’s not easy to be clear about your values, it’s a good idea to set an acceptable boundary that you commit to not exceeding. By deliberately choosing not to do something, you embody the opposite value associated with that action.
The power of habit
If you can define healthy habits, they will help you avoid falling into traps. Since your time and energy are limited, if you set out each day to do something good for yourself and the world, you mechanically limit the time and energy that could be used to harm yourself or others.
A little admiration is never a bad thing at first
If you’re not quite clear on values but have identified people who you find inspiring. It is not in itself a bad thing to develop some form of admiration (only at first) because you will then be able to capture some of the values they enjoy. This will work a bit like the spark of an engine. Afterwards, it is necessary to detach yourself from these people and follow your own path when these values are sufficiently anchored in you. Without this, you will risk making idols of them and you will believe that the qualities they possess are unattainable.