This summer, I've been thinking a lot about deep, philosophical issues. As I explained in a previous post, I had a lump in my breast and that kind of stopped me in my tracks and made me think about what's most important to me in life and what I really want to achieve, who I really want to be, etc. The lump turned out to be a completely harmless cyst. They drained out the liquid with a big needle - scary but actually quite painless (the mammogram was more painful). Then they pumped in some air to avoid it filling up again. Breast cysts are apparently quite common. So if you do find a lump in your breast, run (don't walk) to your doctor, but try not to panic just yet, since not all lumps are malignant.
The photo shows Pink Lady in deep thought - well, actually waiting for a boat in Greece. I forget which island, either Naxos or Mykonos.
In my case, I tried to make the most of having a medical challenge: it makes one think about the possibility of death and thereby about what one wants to do with the rest of one's life (however long it may be). I really wanted to see this as a positive thing, and that's exactly what it turned out to be. I've heard from many friends who have survived cancer or other serious illnesses that it has made them value life much more. But we can all do this: we don't need to wait to get some serious illness to value life.
So, about values. After some thinking-time, I've been able to whittle down my list of values to the following three:
Those three cover everything that is deeply meaningful to me in life. In fact, I could even narrow the list down to just one item: love. Because I could say "I love beauty and progress" or "I do what I love" or "I use love to guide me in my decision-making processes". Now you must understand that I mean these three words in the widest possible sense. As in love of life, loving and valuing myself, love of humanity and my fellow man, love of the environment - but also as in I love to listen to music and I love strawberries, etc. Beauty is not just visual: it can be beautiful music, beautiful ideas, etc. And progress means always looking for ways to improve everything: the world, myself, the way I do my job, my home, questioning my beliefs, etc.
As for work, there's a book called Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow by Marsha Sinetar. I haven't read the book, but I love the idea (have you noticed that I use the world "love" a lot?). This is what I want to do in my life: follow my passions. Do what I absolutely love doing and that will show me what my true calling and purpose is. The idea being, if you love to dance, become a dancer or a dance teacher, if you love to cook, become a chef or a caterer, if you love numbers, become a mathematician, if you love clothes, become a fashion designer, a buyer or work for a fashion magazine, if you love books, become a writer, a librarian or work in a book store or publishing house, etc. You get the picture. Of course it's not always quite that simple, but it's a good starting point. I don't just have one thing I love but many. But the most important things to me are:
- Communication (writing, speaking, teaching, lecturing, negotiating, selling, influencing)
- All things visual (e.g. photography, website design, art, design, fashion)
- Leadership, growing as a human being, helping others grow, supporting others
For a better idea of my values, here is the original, longer list:
- Art, beauty, creativity, cleanliness, purity
- Fun, spontaneity, hedonistic pleasures, joie de vivre
- Love, acceptance, friendship, service, giving, ethical behaviour and thought
- Achieving goals, discipline, excellence, growing as a human being
- Life-long learning, knowledge, understanding, truth
- Progressive thinking, leaving behind the old and going towards the new
- Ethical capitalism
Now you must understand that these are my values - it does not necessarily mean that I currently live this way. For example, in my case "discipline" is very much a development area; I am not yet highly disciplined (in fact, I am very, very far from it!) But believe you me, I am working on it. There's no other way to become the person you want to be (assuming, that is, that you want to change). I want to become more disciplined e.g. in the way I set and reach goals, in the way I spend my money, in the way I take care of myself (e.g. physical exercize, diet, etc).
What are your values?