In my previous post I talked about the 3 principles which I believe will change the way you live life, hopefully for the better. The 3 principles are:
- Be responsible (for your experiences)
- Be present (in the now)
- Let go (of expectations and attachment)
But the question that one must ask is, if I responsible for my own experiences than how do I control this responsibility. If I am to focus on the present, what exactly am I to focus on? What do I let go?
It is my belief that if you are to chose your primary goal in life, it must be only one thing; understanding your true nature, everything else secondary. Two simple words “Know Thyself”, yet truly living by it can do wonders and neglecting it can be lead to a world of pain and suffering.
You can try to make logical choices when it comes to the three principles, but the effort it requires is monumental if you do not fundamentally know who you really are.
Knowing yourself is as much an endeavour of discovery as it is an effort of creation.
I would prefer to call this concept, “Define Yourself” rather than Know Thyself”, as we are culturally programmed to think that knowing something is a matter of discovering something that already exists, but more dangerously, whatever that thing that exists is immutable, unchangeable.
Knowing your natural characteristics or characteristics that you may have acquired over the course of your life through experiences is a great place to start. And that is it, ‘a start’. If there are things about yourself that you do not like, you can make effort towards changing them.
Conversely, if there are things that you do like about yourself, you can work towards enhancing those specific characteristics.
Knowing yourself is difficult enough, how do you you even go about defining yourself?
Your values define you are you. Knowingly or unknowingly we are making decisions based on your values.
Ask yourself what do you value most in life? Ask yourself about your values in different aspects of you life. What do you think is good, what do you think is bad. What do you want more in life, what do you want less in life? Are there things that you stand for? Are there things that you stand against?
If you do not know your values, you can define them. This is a start to defining who you are as a person. I will give you my own example. About a year ago, I started asking myself these questions and one of the values that I decided that I will stand for is non-violence. This led me to adopting a vegan lifestyle. Another thing that I value in life is environment friendliness and sustainability.
These values help me make decisions in life. Of course it is not always easy, but it does help you steer towards your values more than away from them once you choose to define your values.
I have either sold or recycled old laptops by turning them into routers and servers. I started wet shaving with either straight razors or safety razor and soap, instead of using refillable cartridges.
My values do not make them any better or worse than yours, because that is the whole point of defining your values. They help you define who you are as an individual and help you make decision by acting as your compass.
Blueprint of Your Compass
There are many times that we get stuck on making decisions in life. It could be as simple as what to have for lunch or as pivotal as changing or choose a career path.
The more you know and define your value the easier it can get when it comes time to making importantly decisions in life. It is simply not enough to decide or discover your values, but you must also prioritise them. You may value a lot of things in life, but how important is each of those values? That is a key question that will help you make decisions in life.
But even after you have spent ample amount of time defining and prioritising your values, you may still feel stuck in making certain decisions in life. Ever wondered why?
The reason is conflicting values. This happens when you have two values that are opposite in nature. What do I mean by that?
Say one of you values is non-violence and because of that you decide to adopt a vegan lifestyle. However, your other value is variety in food. You value different cuisines, and like to try and experiment different dishes, flavours, textures and tastes etc… These two are fundamentally different. Sure you can think of creative ways of making vegan food taste great and believe me it does. However, if you want to try and eat exotic animals, you will suffer much anguish because two of your values are in conflict. What you end up doing will depend on the priority of each individual value.
What is worse when you have clash of the titans. This is when you have two values that are either opposites or simply not compatible and both are of equal priority.
Crafting Your Compass
As you can see it is important to evaluate your values and weed out conflicts prior to facing them in life altering situations. The easiest way to start is to check whether your values are contradicting each other. If they are you must decide on which values will have a higher priority and which ones will have a lower priority.
Of course, you do not need to eliminate your values, it is fair to give them different priorities, and yes, you have the right to choose them as you wish.
Once you have spent ample amount of time defining and prioritizing your values, you must visit them often, ideally at regular intervals to evaluate and make changes if and where necessary. Do not fall into the trap of rigidity.
The best way to maintain integrity with yourself and your values is it to write as much of this down as possible. This gives you something concrete to look it. It will almost feel like your values have been giving life.
You can then refer to what you have written to remind yourself about your values and also to give you the opportunity to reevaluate them and make necessary tweaks.
Using your Compass
I want to reiterate, these 3 principles have mentioned here and in my previous post together with the concept of the compass is a tool, a mental tool just like the technology that surround you like your phones, tables and computers, and the Internet, the cars that you drive, or refrigerators for cooling and so on.
We are so dependent on technology, and I do believe that such technology makes our life easier and in many ways helps us making decisions better. But no technology is worth a dime if you do not know how to use it.
Likewise, with your values as a compass you can navigate decision making, become responsible for your experiences, draw yourself into the present and focus on what is important to you, and find balance by detaching from unwarranted expectations.