In Part 1 of this series, I discussed the idea of ‘Value,’ and how it is the key to successfully dealing with the huge number of choices available in your life. Here is the first step in making that happen.
Assuming a value is what you are acting to gain and/or keep, does this necessarily mean what you are valuing is actually good for you? The answer to this question comes from a process of reason. Before you decide something is truly a value, it is imperative to make sure that the value is objectively beneficial to your life.
Take a relatively trivial example. Though I love pizza and cherry vanilla ice cream, having it every night would not be a value in my life. The lack of variety aside, proper thinking about having this meal on an on-going basis tells me it does not contain the kind of nutrients I need to remain healthy and strong. Pizza and cherry vanilla ice cream are a value, but only in the context of a once-in-awhile treat not as something to sustain my life.
Take a hugely more critical example- deciding to have a child. Having a child if you have a steady income, plenty of savings, the desire to love and sustain another human being, and the time to be able to do it is objectively one of the greatest values in any person’s life. But having a child without an income, any resources at all and the desire to ‘have someone who loves me’ is the very antithesis of an objective value. Furthermore, such a person is consigning another human being to a miserable childhood and a potentially very difficult life.
The point here is that the values you choose must be values that are objectively beneficial to your life if they are going to improve your life. Only a proper process of thinking about each potential value’s nature will give you a chance of making that happen. The best part about this process, and all of the thinking processes I have been describing in these posts, is that the more you do it, the easier it becomes and the better you get at it. The knowledge you gain from each reasoned evaluation is available for the next evaluation, which increases your knowledge for the next one, and so on until you become very clear as to what is and is not a value to your life.
And once you get to that point, you will have that much more success with the next step in this process of selecting from among life’s unlimited choices- developing a hierarchy of values.