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I am most thankful for the set of values I received in the course of my life from so many sources. At the same time, I am examining the scaffolding of beliefs, values and assumptions that I inherited from my family, school, religion and society. One by one and on an annual basis, I seek to dismantle and discard those that are not in keeping with mature adult living and cherish those that are.
This audit process becomes complete when we also clean house – the inner house of our mind that waits to be updated and freed of superstition, self-stunting beliefs and prejudice. We can ask which attitudes and values serve our growth and which are ready to be dispensed with. This doesn’t mean having fewer firm values, but honing the values we have so that they mesh better with who we are today and become resources for growing in integrity and love.
The following list helps me do any annual audit of my beliefs. Growth-promoting, healthy, loving values and beliefs are those that:
•Keep directing us to reality rather than wishful thinking or candy-coated views.
•Teach us that life is about happiness with responsibility, not simply the enduring of pain.
•Prompt us to act with self-nurturance, unconditional integrity and universal loving-kindness.
•Ensure freedom of intellect, voice and choice so that we have individual authority over the shape of our beliefs and our conscience.
•Suggest moral principles that accommodate the full range of legitimate human behavior rather than keep us inhibited or inappropriately ashamed of our wishes or actions.
•Give us a love of learning and inquiry so that we are always open to new ideas rather than becoming dogmatic or a doctrinaire.
•Help us respect reasonable limits and conventions but also question the authorities whose legitimacy we base not on their claims to extraordinary powers but on their concern for our continual maturation.
•Free us from biases against race, sexual orientation, gender or a particular religious or political persuasion.
•Increase our awareness of world concerns and animate us to become engaged in action that promotes justice, peace, liberty, equality and love.
•Challenge us as well as support us.
•Keep us aware of and thankful for the gifts and graces that come to us.
It is so helpful for me to audit myself every year. We need to examine all that we have believed or now believe so that we can appreciate what has helped us to evolve.
The views expressed in this column are those of the writer.