One of the easier things to recognize might be shared values. Just realizing we are feeling comfortable in a given situation and around certain people can lead us to conclude we anew in a setting with shared values. It can be more difficult to understand what those shared values are. When we are young our values are shaped primarily by our families. I have read that a child’s values are largely formed in the first three years of life. They form so naturally that most children just assume that the way their family looks at things is the way everyone does.
One of the first things that help us identify our values is how our family spends its time. My father was a teacher. There were five children in my family. My mother did not work outside our home. For this and other reasons, my father worked all the time. He had several part-time jobs throughout the school year and a full-time job in the summer. None of these jobs paid very well, and, especially his summer job, demanded long hours, seven days a week.
This schedule did not include family vacations. I can’t recall more than three trips we took while I was growing up. Two of these were to visit relatives and friends. I grew up in an area where people come every year for vacation. I’ve always known vacations are part of the shared value system of many people. It was just not part of my shared values growing up. The shared values I developed centered around my family and my church. They also included a strong work ethic.
As a teenager, I spent most of my time with young people from several groups. There was our youth group at church. The rest were people, mostly from a band, with whom I shared interests and values. The process of discovering shared values continued. Since I chose to go to college, I spent four years with people whose values included an appreciation for higher education.
The career I prepared for required three years of graduate school. This is a result of shared values. Here again, I found more people with whom to develop shared values. In the process of education, I met the person I have been privileged to share my life with. Our relationship demonstrates that people who share values can have very different views of life. It also demonstrates that shared values can expand or even change. One of our shared values has become travel. Recently we passed a sort of a milestone. We have now traveled in all fifty states. This is not a specific goal. It was rather a result of our shared value of travel and experiencing new places and things.
I have been blessed in my life to be able to pursue two different careers, each for more than twenty years. This is a result of shared values involving helping others attain their goals in life. My most enduring relationships over all this still encompass many shared values. I am pleased that whatever happens in life, my values sustain me and give me the strength to keep going. There are many voices today literally shouting at us what others think our values should be. Sometimes those voices can drown out our inner voice, the one that reminds us of what our values are. The relationships in which we experience these shared values help keep us directed and focused, even in the midst of the loud distracting voices telling us things we know are not true.
As we move forward, it is a good idea from time to time to reflect on our shared values. How did we come to have them? With whom do we share them? What do they mean in a world with more conflict all the time? As we move forward, let our shared values continue to give us guidance and strength to live through whatever life brings us.If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.
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