Home' Nova West : May 2011 Contents 16
There is no doubt that we have
certain real needs, such as health,
nutrition, water, security and
people. Once we have met these
basic needs we have a choice to focus on
our wants in life or more on our values.
Unfortunately, we are so busy in our lives
we don't often get time to identify our
core values. What is really important to us?
We spend so much of our time responding
to external demands we can lose touch
with our values and a sense of reality.
Our values are what drive us and
give us direction in all our actions and
thus enable us to make our actions
consistent and focused. Discovering our
values gives us the ultimate direction and
decision-making process and can become
a compelling driving force. Our values
guide us in defining the most important
things in our lives. They are the reasons
we do what we do. Values enable you to
become the person you want to be.
Discovering and following our values
gives us the ease to make decisions,
dissipates stress and gives us direction
in life and motivation. Immense energy
can come from our connection with our
deepest values. The opposite is also true.
The biggest drain in our lives is investing
energy in pressing matters that are not
based on our values. Values save us time
and energy. If we act consistently with our
values, 99% of our decisions are made
for us and our minds do not need to
stress about whether we should take
action or not. If it is consistent with our
values, we take that action.
We don't require an internal debate
on every decision and we don't have the
debate each night whether what we did
was right or wrong, or if maybe we could
have done it better. As our minds can
focus only on one thing at a time, it saves
them flitting back and forward between
various options and possible actions --
getting caught up in the "monkey mind".
Our values give us our major direction
Stress dissipates when we identify our
values and follow our passion. When we
are consistent with our values we are
healthy and well. It is when we are not
consistent with our values that our health
seems to turn against us.
Our values give us a strong sense
© NOVA MAY 2011
Our health and happiness really
do depend on connecting with
our deepest values, says
Dr Peter Dingle PhD.
'If we act consistently with our values, 99% of our decisions
are made for us.'
Set a True Course
of purpose, which buffers us from the
storms of life. They are like the roots of
a tree, keeping us steady and grounded
even in stormy weather. But they are
hidden beneath the ground so that we
don't see them, and sometimes we forget
about them when everything appears to
be happening above ground.
Our values become a major motivating
factor and sustain us. Not knowing
what our values are is like driving to an
unknown destination without a road
map. In the extensive research on goals,
self-concordant goals, the ones chosen
for personal reasons, achieved the greatest
outcomes. Research on centenarians
shows that positive values are consistent
with living longer and enjoying life more.
They are not saints, just people who live
by their values.
There are many examples of personal
values influencing the life and work of
people, as well as, on the other side,
societal values influencing how people
live. The best example is people who go
into the caring and nurturing professions,
particularly nursing, teaching and social
work. These are all stressful jobs and
these people often could be earning
more money in business. So why do
they do it? In most cases it aligns with
their values. They are giving and caring.
There is little doubt of the value of these
careers, particularly if our family or we
are in need of their caring. Our work and
life should be consistent with our core
values and bring us happiness.
Many politicians and business leaders
have talked about values, but I don't
believe many of them have actually
thought about them. There is a lot of
emphasis on values in business although
all too often these values are easily lost. At
a leadership conference I attended some
years ago, four of the six speakers were
Australian. After five years, each of those
Australians had been taken to court and
was in jail or had received a deferred
sentence. That is not leadership.
To exacerbate this, the media presents
a distorted view of what our real values
are, based on what the owners want, what
the people who pay for the ads want, and
occasionally what the readers and viewers
need. Working closely with the media, I am
frequently told what we can or cannot do,
or some of my criticisms are edited out,
for no other reason than they were not
consistent with the values of the paper.
In a recent land contamination issue, the
local state paper stopped writing articles
on the topic because the articles were
considered "anti-development". Then there
is the use of ridiculous and emotive
words and expressions like the "war on
terrorism" to attempt to justify political
The more governments and the
media create a perception of fear and
insecurity, the more we are willing to
compromise our core value of true
happiness. We become willing to put our
core values that sustain us on hold -- for
a day until the night comes, for a week
until the weekend, a year for a few weeks'
holiday, or even a lifetime for a few years
at the end doing what we want to do. Fear
and insecurity, whether real or perceived,
take away our personal control. The more
we fear something, the more power we
give to it and the less power we have.
Most phobias restrict people from doing
things, as does a simple fear of going out
for a walk at night. We often base our
security on something external. Safety
comes from inside. How do we create
safety that cannot be lost?
Finding our values
The research on ageing and Maslow's
famous research on the hierarchy of
needs highlight the drive for self
actualisation and self realisation --that is,
finding one's creative and spiritual side.
On average, as people age they become
more spiritual, worldly, generous and
interested in helping others while
Peter Dingle is Associate Professor
in Health and the Environment at
pursuing more creative endeavours. This
is a departure from the very self centred,
materialistic ego view.
Our values should revolve around
benefiting ourselves while benefiting
others and the world. They should
concentrate on things that sustain and
nurture. This means assessing our work
and asking if this is really helping
humankind. As a general rule, I would
say, for example, the creation of weapons,
tobacco and even junk food is not based
on positive values. Each of these kills
millions of people around the world every
year.We need to identify and define our
values then find ways to reconnect with
our values. Once we do this, we need to
revisit our values on a daily basis. Ask the
question at the end of each day: "Was
my behaviour consistent with my values
today?" Become accountable to yourself
for your actions.
"The most important human endeavor
is the striving for morality in our actions.
Our inner balance and even our very
existence depend on it. Only morality in
our actions can give beauty and dignity to
life." - Albert Einstein
Deciding what is important in
A couple of simple questions that will
help you understand and focus on this
more fully are:
What do you want to be remembered
for?Who are the people you most deeply
respect and why?
As individuals, health is the most
important thing we have. Think about
that for a moment. If you get sick or
incapacitated you will do almost anything
to get better. People who are seriously ill
will spend every cent they have to get well.
They are willing to sell their assets and go
into debt, to do anything, if only they can
get their health back. A friend of mine
went in for a routine investigation but had
her bowel punctured in the process and
she developed serious internal infections,
particularly of the respiratory system. She
nearly died and remembers her words,
"I will give everything just to be able to
breathe." It's a pity that many of us leave
concerns about our health until our body
is screaming at us for attention.
Our relationships with family and
friends must surely be next on our list.
Yes, we need to survive and earn a living
and we argue that we need to look after
our families by providing extra material
comfort, ignoring the fact that we are
their mentors for life and living. More
possessions and gadgets are not a
substitute for a too-busy family member
or parent. Your family is important to you.
Most relationships that break up do so
because not enough time and energy was
spent working on the relationship. How
many times have I heard it said, "I didn't
see it coming"? Only because they were
so busy with being busy.
Once you have reorganised your
priorities, you will realise that the
consumerism and status most of us are
encouraged to pursue is rather empty
by comparison, and that all the time and
energy spent thinking or worrying about
it is wasted time and energy.
Disclaimer: Dr Peter Dingle PhD is an associate
professor and researcher who has researched nutritional
toxicology for the past 10 or more years. He is not
a medical doctor. After completing his honours in
environmental toxicology in 1988, he went on to
complete his PhD in the same field in 1994. The
information he presents is based on the research he and
his students carry out at Murdoch University where he is
Associate Professor in Health and the Environment.
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