My Grandmama read “Value Tales” to me when I was little. There’s a whole set of them. Each story is about how real, historic figures and their theme-appropriate imaginary friends demonstrated a specific value like honesty, kindness, determination, etc. I’ve lived a little now, and had the chance to apply some of those lessons and a few others the books didn’t mention. Here’s some suggestions, in case they ever decide to expand the series:
1.The Value of Self-Awareness – You are entitled to every single one of your own feelings. You are also free to express them however you deem necessary, but as we know, to every action there is a reaction. So before you act or react, take a minute to name what you’re really feeling and evaluate what really made you feel that way. For example, maybe there’s somebody you think you don’t like. If that guy has done something to legitimately earn your hatred, you should be able to draw some pretty straight lines to why you feel that way. Do you actually dislike the person, or do you dislike the way you feel when he’s around? If you land on the latter, are you reacting to something that person did, or to some insecurity about yourself? It’s quite a labyrinth, and emotions often disguise themselves, but having that knowledge gives you power to construct your life! In the end, out lives aren’t made up of what happens to us, but how we FEEL about what happens and how we react.
2. The Value of Empathy – For better or worse, everybody filters the world through the lens of their own baggage. Every experience adds a layer that either clarifies or blurs everything that happens next. IT’s impossible to really communicate with someone without putting yourself in her shoes. I’m certain that would go a long way toward dissipating some of the world’s most insurmountable problems. We’d all be a lot nicer if we stopped to consider how it feels to be the other guy.
3. The Value of Personal Responsibility – OWN YOUR STUFF! What you love, what you hate, what you believe, how you feel, ALL of it. It’s your privilege AND your responsibility. Blaming others for your emotions and actions eats away at your integrity and hands them control over your life. It says a lot more about you than it does about them. Nothing in your life will improve until you take responsibility for it.
4. The Value of Trouble Shooting – Learn how to figure things out. Look for clues. Read the instructions. Ask questions. Seek information and put the pieces together. These steps translate to problems as minor as unjamming the copy machine to scarier situations like finding a job. There’s a lot of freedom and confidence to be gained by knowing you have some tools to help solve whatever you’re up against.
5. The Value of Discernment – We are living in a time of unprecedented access to information. Along with that comes exposure to the agendas and opinions of all kinds of folks who have no shame about twisting the facts in their favor. The trick is to develop a set of mental filters to help you sift through the baloney and get as close to the truth as you can. What the world needs now is way less deceit and misinformation. You can be part of the solution by refusing to accept everything that’s fed to you. Learn how to do your own research, and verify your sources. Don’t spread that stuff around; it’s quickly junking up the world…and that’s where I LIVE with the people I LOVE. The people you love live there too. STOP IT!
The difference between living a reactive life where you’re a slave to your circumstances, and having a deeper, more meaningful, productive experience is developing these tools.