By Dianne Witte
Since I’ve retired, I’ve been taking a number of classes. When friends ask what kind, I have a difficult time describing them, because most people aren’t familiar with metaphysics and esoteric philosophy. See, just turned you off, didn’t I? But, they are just terms to describe “things” that aren’t physical and things that aren’t common knowledge. Things like beliefs, values, love and ageless wisdom. For instance, recently I attended a class with the topic of self-respect, self-esteem and self-worth. The discussion evolved to focus on personal values. It occurred to me that I haven’t really examined my values as such. Of course, I was given a set of values by my parents and religious affiliation in my early life, but in thinking about it now, I realize it was really a somewhat covert operation. They didn’t tell me that was what it was about. Things like being honest and hard-working and a good Catholic. Some of these “values” I’ve since exchanged for ideas more suited to me, but I didn’t name them values. Now, I “value” being able to make my own decisions, rather than default to religious teachings, but I didn’t consciously say, “This is my new value”.
Well, just what is a value? Is it different than a belief? The dictionary’s first definition is “monetary or material worth” – not quite what we have in mind here, but an interesting juxtaposition, since what we are interested in here is a “metaphysical” value, not a physical one. The second definition is what we are addressing here, a principle, standard or quality considered inherently worthwhile or desirable. In comparison, a belief is a connection or opinion or fundamental principle. Is a value a belief you choose to practice or focus on? Just asking.
What are your values? Are they your values or values of the people around you? Perhaps you believe in one set of values, but are living by another. The connection to the theme of the class, self-esteem, lies here. If you aren’t living by your core values, low self-esteem and lack of self-respect will be the consequence. That’s for another class. It was only two hours and an exciting discussion, to be continued.
Here’s an example of living by others values. Germans value hard work and getting up with the sun and working hard. I am of German heritage, however, I am a night person. For years I struggled with the conflict of being a good German or following my own body rhythm and staying up late. Now, I just stay up late and try to teach my husband, also of German lineage, that everyone is different, you don’t have to go to bed early and be early to rise, in order to be happy, healthy, wealthy and wise.
I have worked hard, but have since decided that value has to change, because I’ve learned to respect my body and work only as hard as my body feels comfortable with. I still struggle with that one; sometimes I still work too hard, so there’s still something there to be examined. Retirement and aging have allowed me to adjust my values, too. So, values change, as you learn and grow. They aren’t forever.
In this process, I’ve discovered two of my values are life-long learning and caring for humanity. Perhaps these will change as I examine them and learn more. Has this article stimulated you to think about these things? I know this is only touching the tip of the iceberg, but, if you find this kind of exploration thought provoking, perhaps you’ll want to join our class. Recently the class discussed the difference between an opinion and a judgment. Who knows what will be next. I’m sure it will be interesting. These classes are open to the public and meet at 7 pm every other Tuesday in Janesville at Earthsong. I’ll be there, and will be pleased to meet a fellow traveler in the world of learning metaphysics! Please join us.
As Mahatma Ghandi said, “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.”