Who or what is pointing the way in your life?
We all have guiding principles and values that are important to us. We have an identity that gives us a specific space within which we operate. We were given a moral compass. We were told or shown what was right and wrong.
Most of this is established early on and it slides or changes outright as we “fall in with a bad crowd” or lose our religion or gain a new one. It changes as our life situation changes, when we have kids, or when we are behind in our mortgage.
It changes as our identity of ourselves changes – when we move to a new area, or join a new industry, take up a hobby or join a club. We become city folk, or an accountant, a mountain biker or a Mason. This new identity changes how we act. We stop wearing plaid shirts, we become more serious, we become fearless and we become, well, more Masonic. All because city folk, accountants, mountain bikers and Masons are a certain way, or at least we perceive them to be that way.
Our way is affected by what we see around us. If we see, or think we see, others around us cheating on their taxes, then we will begin to think it is acceptable. If we head down that slippery slope, we will ‘see’ more evidence of that behaviour and we will ignore other behaviour. We will begin to hang around with others who do it, and not with others who don’t. You can insert any behaviour into that scenario such as lying, stealing supplies or time at work, cheating and not being reliable. This goes the other way, too. If we begin to honour and practice truth, integrity and reliability we spiral upwards into that way and surround ourselves with people who are that way, too.
This is why it is so important to surround yourself with the right people, to read good books and to practice good entertainment.
Barb Stegemann, author of 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen and soon 7 Virtues of a Philosopher King, turned me on to philosophy and virtues as guiding ideas. The virtues have been used as a guide for living for millennia. They are the content of our character. When in doubt go to the virtues. I try to live by truth, courage, beauty, and wisdom. The more I do this, the easier it gets, the more I see those around me do it and the more I find it in books and entertainment.
We all have choices and we can choose the way we live.
What’s guiding your actions? How do you see yourself?