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Values are the Fuel of Excellence

by Virendra Dafane
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Every day, every one of us meets life situations that call for thought, decision-making, and action. Everything we do, every decision we make, and course of action we take, is based on our consciously or unconsciously held beliefs and values. We know focus, so now, what are values? Why do they shape our behaviours and influence our every decision in the long-term?

The Bhagavad Gita Perspective

The Bhagavad Gita says that human beings should practice three fundamental core values: Satchitanand — 1) Sat means living a life with honesty and carrying truth everywhere; 2) Chit means living a life to gain knowledge; and 3) Anand means living life happily. Krishna said that only these three values are necessary to live a complete life. Practising these three values will give you complete happiness and fulfillment, requiring nothing else to live a happy life.

For example: Gandhi followed The Bhagavad Gita and only carried these three values, apart from patriotic values he had for nation and self. He lived with truth and always tried to gain knowledge. He never tried to accumulate any wealth or accommodate other materialistic values.

Modern-Day Values

Values are the basis for ethical or moral actions we take to reach our goals and live a good life. Values are emotional states that, based on our life experience, we believe are the most important for us to experience.  There are two types of values: Means values and Ends values. Emotions like love, happiness, success, security, and adventure are described as Ends values. Means values are simply vehicles or instruments to achieve the ultimate outcomes. Means values are behaviors to achieve the Ends values. The ultimate goal of life is to know what you’re really after: your Ends values. First thing to consider with values is, Value Yourself. Let’s see what this means.

Value Yourself First

Valuing yourself has two potential elements: First is self-acceptance and the other is self-love. Let’s see what self-acceptance is.  You have feelings about yourself physically, intellectually, socially, and emotionally. You have an opinion about your abilities in music, athletics, art, writing, and so on. You may fail or you may not like your behavior sometimes, but that has nothing to do with your self-value. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone fails, but that doesn’t reduce his/her value at all. So accept yourself all the time, and believe in your ability to achieve greatness ethically. Thus you will achieve self-acceptance.

Self-love means you love yourself; it doesn’t demand the love of others. There is no need to convince others. An internal acceptance is sufficient. It has nothing to do with the viewpoints of others. You need to feel inside your mind that you are valuable. Complaining about yourself is a useless activity. If you don’t like something about you and your behaviour or your weight, take action and change whatever it is. Value lies in your own mind and your own conscious thoughts.  Once you value yourself, let’s examine what the various values are and how to identify them.

An ignorant relationship is one in which you impose your own highest values onto the other person, judging them by your highest values and not considering or honuoring their highest values.

Value Identification

Now that you understand the importance of values, it’s time to identify your own values— a process that could be one of the most important actions you have ever taken. To identify your own values, the best way is to question yourself honestly. Let’s see what they are, shall we?

  1. What do you love the most? This will bring your core love interests to light. People or activities?
  2. Where are you most reliable, disciplined, and focused? Look for activities that you do without anyone telling you. These activities are your real passions.
  3. What is your innermost dominant thought? I’m not talking about fantasies. These are your subjects and positive and negative thoughts.
  4. What do you visualise and realise? This will determine your attitude towards life and your values for growth.
  5. What is your internal dialogue? This conveys your strength value and how much you accept yourself. Even your weakness can be converted to strength.
  6. What inspires you? This will articulate whether you value people or outcome or action, and what inspires you most out of the three.

What are your goals? Goals will bring clarity about your thinking and your Ends values.  The moment you answer these questions is the moment you will start understanding what matters to you most. Your values are your core choice. Nobody else on this earth can determine your values.

 Values and Relationships

An ignorant relationship is one in which you impose your own highest values onto the other person, judging them by your highest values and not considering or honuoring their highest values. And whenever there is conflict, you are certain that their values are simply wrong and ignore them. This results in hurt and betrayal.

A submissive relationship is when you think in terms of the other person’s highest values without considering your own. In this case, you are overly concerned that the other person’s highest values be supported, even as you minimise or disregard your own. You’re just trying to stay out of trouble and keep the peace, which is not an effective way to achieve a healthy relationship. And when it comes to couples, that doesn’t help to achieve true intimacy or love.

The third type of relationship is a compassionate relationship, in which you communicate your highest values and respect the other person’s values, and vice versa. Each of you thinks about both yourself and the other, expressing both your love and respect for each other and each other’s values. This is the most healthy type of relationship, and this has long-term success.

An ignorant relationship is one in which you impose your own highest values onto the other person, judging them by your highest values and not considering or honuoring their highest values.

Values and Memory

Your highest values determine what you notice, what you remember, and what you intend or act upon. For the things we do value highly, we have what I call default attention going on, which does a fabulous job of filtering your perceptions. Your highest values will lead you to notice things that another person might miss—even if you tried to point it out.  You will remember and observe things that you think are valuable.

Two weeks back, when I met school friends in a get-together, one of them spoke about the fun we had, another spoke about commitment we showed to win school games, and yet another spoke about intelligence. Three different people speaking about three different values close to them: fun, commitment, and intelligence.  Each one of them remembered what they valued most.

True and Shared Values

Time, once spent, cannot be re-acquired as, say, money could. Once spent, time stays spent. It needs to be treated with great respect and consideration given its true value. Truth is another true value, as once something happens, you cannot change it. Truth remains forever. Unless you respect true values, you cannot grow.

In a family, group of friends, or in an organisation, nothing makes an impact unless people have shared values. People with the same values connect amazingly, as the process to achieve goals is driven by shared values.

Values and Behavior

Your behavior is the product of your priority values. It has two types: behavior towards value and behavior away from values. The moment you behave with honesty and contribution, it is behavior towards values. The moment you think selfishly and even get angry, it is behavior away from them. Everything can be achieved by practice. Practice behavior towards your primary values.  When people turn away from values, it generates rejection, frustration, and loneliness. Stay with values, as it will bring peace, happiness, and growth.

Your behavior is shaped based on your understanding of values. How you understand love will define your behavior towards love. Many people want to stay in love, but later realise in life that they actually want to receive love and not give love. Nothing is more meaningful unless you understand the value of giving love and adding value to another life. Contribution is the only lesson that needs to be followed every day.

Secret of the Universe

The biggest secret of this universe lies in realising that your value is within your mind, your thoughts, and beliefs. Everything (positive or negative) that the external world declares is temporary, that is, time-bound. You don’t need to give too much value to it.

“Your permanent value is within your thoughts, ability to act, and pursue a goal.”

One of the greatest examples of perceived value was exemplified by Abraham Lincoln. From 1816, he lost almost every battle till 1860. That’s about 44 Years! He finally became US president in 1860. He believed in his mind that he could lead the nation. He valued himself as president and did not lose heart due to continual failures and challenges for 44 years!

So live with values and believe that it is within your thoughts and ability to act.

Summary and Action Plan to Live True Values

  1. Believe in your mind that The Bhagavad Gita Teachings are for the modern world.  There are three 3 simple values necessary to live a complete life. And remember, start valuing yourself first.
  2. Identify your values by asking the important questions stated prior. Those should give you your value list, hence the understanding as to which value you need to develop.
  3. Observe your relationships and see whether they are compassionate or any other type. Improve, if required.
  4. Observe your behavior and memory. Are you storing valuable things? Is your behavior towards values or away from them?
  5. Identify if you are caring for true values. Do you care for time? Do you speak the truth and live truthfully? If not, you are living a life which lacks true value. Improve it and be valuable all the time.
  6. The final truth is that your value is in your mind and your own ability to think and act. So pursue your highest value.

After you demonstrate a behavior with belief and right values, it definitely creates a great first step but what next? Can we sustain the same behavior over a longer time-frame? Yes, you can! If you have a skill named concentration with you!

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