In the mid-1970s, I made a decision to move to California from New York City, where I was raised. Why I did so, and why I made other decisive turns in my life is the subject of this essay. My first thought on the subject is that I took these actions simply because I was motivated to do so. And yet, what really motivates us in life are the things we truly value.
Then what were the values that compelled me to move to California -- in particular to the San Francisco Bay Area -- where I have resided for these last 30 years? Well, it is true that after five years attending college at frigid Syracuse University in upstate New York I was compelled to seek the warmer climes of California. But I could have moved south to Florida or to the Southwestern parts of the US. However, having been raised in the urban/suburban environment of New York City, I valued culture and a certain type of urban sophistication I might not find in those other locales. I also enjoyed being near the water, not only because of its shimmering beauty, but because cities at the edge of the great oceans tend to attract a diversity of people and a richness of culture from around the world.
Though climate, beauty, diversity, and culture influenced my decision, there must have been something more specific that compelled me to move to this region. Looking at it in retrospect, I have concluded that I came to the area because of the existence of Marin County -- the progressive community that lies directly across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. Marin County at the time (and still is) was the prosperous land where many of the creative musicians, artists, and thinkers of the 1970s lived. From the articles and reports I had read while living on the East coast, the people who lived in that region were involved with matters that meant a great deal to me -- i.e. aspects of life that I truly valued. And because I deeply believed in those things, I wanted to be near them; to somehow participate in their way of life. And so I headed out to the SF Bay Area in 1975 in earnest -- and never looked back.
But I have still not identified the specific values of the Marinites that compelled me to join them. Let me try to list them for you. For one, the residents were in the vanguard of the changes going in society at the time -- including an appreciation of Eastern culture and spirituality, a concern for the quality of the physical environment, a dissatisfaction with the mindless materialism of modern life, the rejection of conformity of the previous generation, and the development of new forms of music that expressed their new world view. These were the underlying values that drove me to the region. These were the ideals and beliefs that shaped my life at the time, compelling me to venture across country.
Each of us is motivated to move our lives in certain directions. That motivation is determined by the values we subscribe to. Our values are thus the formations and ideations of thought, the distinct formulations of understanding that express what we perceive to be important truths about life. These ideals are then reinforced by our emotions and feelings, which turn those mental perception into a vital passion that we hope to realize in our lives. Whether we actually make the effort to implement them is another matter.
Without values or beliefs, we would be mechanical-like beings, driven here and there by the vicissitudes of life. Without values, we would be creature-like, compelled to action solely by our urges and passions. In this inhuman existence, there would be little consideration for truths we hold dear, let alone implement them to ennoble and enrich our lives. In this reality devoid of values, we would live unconscious lives, without meaning or purpose. On the other hand, when we take to values, we live a purposeful and dynamic existence -- i.e. we become truly human.
This being the case, what are the truths of life, i.e. the personal values that you believe in? What are the cherished ideals and beliefs that have shaped your life; that are motivating and driving your life today? Why not take a little time and come up with a short list, and then consider how each has or currently is shaping your life.
If we think about it, we will see that people relate to personal values in a number of ways. Thoughtful people are continually thinking about those things they cherish and believe in. Powerful people are also motivated and driven to implement them in their lives. In fact, the most successful people are constantly evaluating their values, and are continually driven to turn them into a living reality. For these individuals, values are an inexhaustible source of inner power that energizes them to no end; driving them to the heights of success, while bringing about deep fulfillment in their lives.
Interestingly, not only do values energize us, but when we implement them, it energizes everything they come in contact with! If I apply the value of customer service and delight when I speak with the client, I energize the conversation, which leads to greater response from the person on the other end, who is now motivated to purchase the services I am offering. Also, if I am truly sincere in my belief in customer satisfaction, I create an added value that reinforces and builds on the first one. A combination of values applied to a situation dramatically energizes circumstances, which not only increases the likelihood of success, but turns the interaction into an enjoyable, even thrilling experience. Thus, implementing values have an innate capacity to create more energy, accomplishment, and joy in living.
Values are actually a very special power in the universe. It is one our minds can grasp for the purpose of uplifting life. Values are actually spiritual skills -- a divine gift that comes to us from the infinite Source of things. The highest of principles -- such as Oneness, Love, Beauty, and others -- descend from the heavens, and are reinterpreted as values by our minds. For example, the spiritual principle of Oneness is recognized by our minds as values of cooperation, integration, teamwork, and others. Likewise, the universal principle of Love expresses through values of goodness, selflessness, self-givingness, openness, tolerance, respect for others, and a number of others.
The last twenty-five years has seen an explosion in an interest in values. Tom Peters' book 'In Search of Excellence' started the ball rolling for values in the workplace. Religious leaders speak of family values, nations speak of moral values, spiritual teachers speak of the highest values of gratitude, benevolence, and self-givingness; even self-surrender to the Divine. Values drive us, motivate us, move life, move us forward -- enabling progress even evolution. Values are what enables life to take the Next Step -- whether they drive our own individual lives in a positive direction; improve the economic, social, and cultural conditions of a nation; or move society forward in its never-ending ascending path of progress.
Tolerance, openness, respect for the individual, and teamwork are several great human values, while Oneness, Love, Beauty, and Truth are some of higher spiritual values that they derive from. At certain points, the human and spiritual values come together and blend into one another, expressing through spiritualized human values such as selflessness, self-givingness, and gratitude.
Values are expressions of emotionalized truths that when implemented energize whatever they come in contact with, enabling the greatest positive results with the least effort in the shortest period of time -- whether it is for the individual, a collective, or society as a whole.
Values are the nexus to our future progress. It is the call of the Divine to the minds of men to seek a better life -- to pursue ultimate delight and fulfillment in life.