Friday, February 15, 2008

Purpose of life through values. A secret of satisfaction.

The question a person needs to ask himself or herself in an endeavor is, “Is this pursuit true to myself?” I am not the first to say this, but I would like to explain it in a bit of a different way than others have. Why is being true to oneself important? What even is oneself? I ask these questions because it makes things clearer. “Oneself,” for the purpose of this essay, is one’s values. First, a person through experience and reflection needs to figure out their values. Such values can be things like fame, riches, power, or other things like peace, adventure, and understanding. These values are not goals. Fame does not equal winning an Oscar. Riches do not equal a million dollars. Power does not equal being a Governor. Peace does not equal not having a fight with your spouse over dinner. Adventure does not equal going on a vacation to an exotic place. And lastly, understanding does not equal getting a Ph.D. All these things I have mentioned are goals. People often choose a path in life because it is inline with their values, but then set goals and loose track of their values and thus their purpose in the first place. To live with one’s values in mind is to have purpose in life. This brings satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment and even sometimes joy. To live for goals brings disappointment when they are not met and oddly even sometimes disappointment when they are met. Often a person gets into a trap of goals. Make one goal, feel good, so then make a bigger one. It is almost as if happiness will always be right around the corner, but never is.

To be self-actualized is to know oneself. Part of this is to understand one’s values and to live by them instead of living by goals. If a person values joy, they can make someone else laugh by telling jokes. If a person values peace, they can learn how to negotiate between others. If a person values love, they can spread the gift of compassion to the world. What a person who values joy learns is that there are lots of ways to make people happy. A person can learn to tell jokes. If that doesn’t work, a person can take others to funny movies. If that doesn’t work, a person can try a new way, a new friend, a new place, until they have found a way live out and express their value. That is a beautiful thing about values. There are an infinite amount of possibilities. Where as with a goal, the possibilities get more narrow with more specific the goal. It is the opposite with values. The more values a person has, the more options a person has to fulfill some of the values and thus live with purpose.

For example, a long time ago, I wanted to be a Psychologist. I thought it would be a great job because I could heal people. More specifically at the time it was to help people. Later on, when I learnt that one of my core values was to help people. I learnt there were now hundreds of jobs that before had turned me off, but now I realized would be great for me. I could be a doctor, nurse, teacher, aid worker, counselor, social worker or other such job. There were just so many ways I could do a job one on one with a person helping them. Now they all made sense.