Living your values, it is generally accepted in the personal development field, is the best way to ensure high personal self-esteem and life-long happiness. Charles Hobbs (TimePower) and Hyrum Smith (FranklinCovey) both specifically address how living in accordance with your highest universal principles – your own set of genuine, conscience driven rules and standards – is the best way to feel successful, because it is intrinsic (part of you) and no dependant on outside approval, social acceptance or material wealth. Living your values means serenity and peace. And violating them brings anxiety, guilt and even depression.
How do I know this? From experience, that’s how.
A couple of days ago I was merrily driving along, using the correct driving principles as taught to me by skilled police drivers, and adhering to the speed limit when a chap drove up behind me so close I couldn’t see his headlights. Considering we were in a 30mph limited road which was on the approach to a roundabout this seemed a bit silly, but I didn’t bite. I just raised my hand in a circle, separated the finger and thumb, and indicated thereby that perhaps the driver may consider pulling back a tad. He did so, and I gave him the thumbs up. Just as he accelerated hard and overtook so that he was still on the wrong side of the road as we came to the bollard at the roundabout entrance.
Now, if I had been proactive and used the stimulus/response gap to think ‘he’s a nutter so I’ll give him space’, things would have been fine. However, in that instant, I chose the ‘oh, we’ll see who can get to the gap first then, shall we?’ reactive technique. As it was, there was just enough – by inches – space so that no collisions occurred and I was able to add a verbal description of the driver through our mutually open car windows before we went I our separate directions.
And for the rest of the day I felt really off.
I felt off because I had failed to act in accordance with my unifying principle ‘I demonstrate high levels of skill and patience in driving.’ I felt off because I had not considered that circumstances like this lead to potential confrontation and while I am not fearful of ‘it’, confrontation is such an open ended activity. If I win the immediate confrontation I have no guarantee that it stops when it is over, especially these days when violence and revenge and utter stupidity seem to be the watchword of people whose first response is reactive thuggery, rather than being dragged slowly towards that end. Would I find that he would torch my car, find out where I live and threaten my kinfolk? If there had been a rumble, even if I had won what could the legal consequences have been? Was I prepared for them, did I want or need such inconvenience? And if the road hadn’t been wide enough, was I prepared to spend money and time repairing my car because I was reactively miffed?
Over the remainder of the day (and my reaction still irked me at bedtime) it occurred to me that, occasionally, it is not the highest ideals that we find hard to live up to, but the tiny ones. Say we choose to study, and do so diligently towards a professional qualification. It’s hard, but it’s doable. At the same time we resolve to be patient, and then someone jumps into the front of a queue and we go nuts. In many ways the patience objective is the easiest – easy to understand, easy to see ourselves doing it, easy to define – but the stimulus to challenge it can be too sudden and we have no time to think (correction, we do not take the time to think) and so we fail.
It’s a lesson we should all consider to be valuable. We have failed, so next time we won’t. It’s a demonstration that we are compliant with both the First and Second Resolutions. We discipline ourselves to be patient, deny ourselves the counterfeit sense of righteousness that the offending behaviour can engender within us, and our character shines through (with some competence in patientology).
Next time – just drive off ahead of the tailgater, or let him go. Let him offend and endanger someone else – I am too important to me and to my family and friends to suffer because of my own ego.
As are you.
Only two pounds lost this week but the running programme continues apace (see what I did there?). This weight loss means (if it continues at 2lbs per week) I may miss my 1/9/ target but as the months differ in lengths I anticipate that any slide back will be compensated for by 1/10/14. The diet remains easy to comply with, too.