December 15, 2006 1:13am CST
what does it mean to u??? The ultimate goal of living your values is to eventually bring them into alignment with universal principles. As you experience living with different sets of values, you'll learn what's truly important to you. Your values may shift a great deal at first as you set new goals and have new experiences, but eventually they will start to converge. Your values are your current estimations of truth. They represent your answer to the question of how to live. Some sets of values will fail to produce the results you want. They may leave you feeling restless and unfulfilled. Other sets of values bring you closer to a feeling of congruence. When you act with integrity to values that are themselves aligned with universal principles, you get the best possible results. This process of alignment is similar to how scientists try to discover a mathematical formula to explain natural phenomena. Isaac Newton's famous F = ma law was an approximation of reality. But it was inaccurate at relativistic speeds, and eventually Albert Einstein provided a more accurate formula. Just as the physical universe is the proving ground for hypothetical physical laws, the universe will also give you feedback to let you know how closely your values align with reality. The process of discovery in this case is still experiential, but it can't be measured as scientifically as gravity. The scientific method requires that an experiment be repeatable under the same conditions, but human problems never duplicate the exact same conditions. Once you make a one-time decision in your career or your relationships, you never face that exact same decision with identical conditions again. Since we cannot apply the scientific method to such situations, the best we can do is to try to classify events according to patterns we've previously experienced. What this means is that the process of values clarification is inherently messy and inexact. It's also a uniquely individual experience. You cannot objectively prove that one set of values is any better or worse than another, but you can begin to see patterns over time, and these patterns can help point you in the direction of universal principles. The existence of universal principles cannot be proven. However, as you live with different sets of values long enough and gain enough experience, you will start to see that there are certain values which massively outperform others in certain areas, hinting at the possibility that there may exist a true principle that works universally for everyone. An example of a potential universal principle is that of fairness. If you align yourself with the value of fairness and live with integrity to it, you will likely find that it works extremely well. Fairness means that you treat everyone you encounter as a person of equal value to yourself - no more, no less. The principle of fairness is captured in the words, "all men are created equal," found in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Fairness is the foundational value upon which democracy is built. The founding fathers of the United States upheld this value as a "self-evident" truth, meaning that they believed fairness/equality to be a universal principle. Imagine having to design your own system for running a company or a country, not knowing in advance what role you'd play after it was launched. It seems reasonable that you would design that system with fairness for all participants as a high priority. When your values are misaligned with the value of fairness, you will find that your results suffer. If you are unfair in your relationships or your business dealings, others will recognize and adapt to your unfairness, making it harder for you to even achieve a reasonable outcome when you want it. They may even warn others in advance of your behavior to make it harder for you to get anything done through others. So your effectiveness grows weaker the longer the misalignment exists. But when you build a reputation for fairness in all of your dealings, you will maintain strong levels of trust with others, and that will make it far easier to elicit cooperation. I believe the ultimate goal of living and refining your values is to identify and achieve congruence with universal principles. Then your model of reality finally matches reality itself, and in the long run your actions will consistently produce the best possible results. This isn't just an individual journey either - it's one that all of humanity is experiencing with each passing century. Social creations like democracy, slavery, or capital punishment can be seen as part of an ongoing process of values clarification.