On Living Wisely: What are your Core Values?

“From there I’d see all I wanted to see instead of all this misery.”Ben Westbeech, Welcome

What does it mean to live a good life? What about a productive life? How about a happy life? How might I think about these ideas if the answers conflict with one another?Richard J. Light, How to Live Wisely (New York Times)

The Core Values Exercise. Pick five words that best describe your core values. How might you deal with a situation where your core values come into conflict with one another?

This is interesting. The Times article doesn’t provide the full list of values from the class and there are a ton of crazy lists that go from twelve terms to over a hundred. In searching, though, I came across this post by Scott Jeffrey who suggests coming up with your own list so, away we go.

After going through a bit of his process, I’ve come to this:

  • I want to be a good citizen of the world. Most essential to this are compassion and kindness.
  • I want to be a loving person. I show this through commitment and thoughtfulness and expect it in return.
  • I want to be thought of as, and surrounded by, smart. I most respect the clever and the creative.
  • I do not like feeling stagnant. Progress and change are my friends. Let’s keep it moving and let’s do it in style.

Most often, my need for progress runs into conflict with thoughtfulness and compassion. Not everyone moves at the same speed as I do, and my natural sensibility is to go quickly towards changing what I see as a bad situation. That’s not always the most compassionate thing.

Others may need to sit with something awhile. The situation might not be changeable. Change doesn’t always mean better. It’s not always my responsibility to Fix-It Felix.

My heart knows this. My head doesn’t get the memo every time.

And it’s actual conflict for me. Maybe my heart doesn’t know it. My chest swells with emotion for things I cannot change but for which my head has come up with solutions. I want things to be right. Or different. Or just in motion.

Keep on movin’. Don’t stop. Like the hands of time.

I know stuck exists, but I don’t believe in it.

I hope that more often than not I let my heart lead with compassion and thoughtfulness—weird that I don’t place thought in my head, right?—and that my personal needs don’t get in the way of being a better citizen, friend, partner, fam.

My regrets in life have come from the times I wasn’t kind, thoughtful, and selfless. I imagine that will still be true whenever I’m taking my last breaths. When I’m there, I hope you will just sit with me in that space for a moment instead of worrying about what we can change to make it better.

I’d value that. 

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