How to Achieve Personal Growth and Balance V - the life of the spirit

To leave a legacy

“Personal leadership is the process of keeping your vision and values before you and aligning your life to be congruent with them.” – Stephen Covey, American leadership consultant and writer

“Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein 1879-1955, German-born brilliant American theoretical physicist

What do we want to leave our children and their children? What would we like them to think of us after we have gone? We are back to those questions again. Of course, each person has to answer these questions for themselves. I’m suggesting that it takes courage and insight into oneself to answer the questions with honesty and meaning. How to get such insight and honesty will be up to each individual and I think that there are three things that can help in this regard: values clarification, study and meditation.

Image from http://www.futuresalon.org/2010/02/top-3-personal-values.html
Image from http://www.futuresalon.org/2010/02/top-3-personal-values.html
Value categories. Image from http://www.strategicselfmanagement.com/about.htm
Value categories. Image from http://www.strategicselfmanagement.com/about.htm

Understanding our values

All our behaviour is driven by our values. From moment to moment life calls on us to make choices, and we make these choices on the basis of what we value, what things we hold dear, what we regard as truly important in our lives. When we choose to do “this” instead of “that,” it’s because we think “this” will be more in tune with what we value than “that” would.

The value of values clarification is that we begin to understand what we value and can start to make choices about our values, instead of our values being just accepted from outside sources – our parents, our peers, society at large. This is the difference between chosen values and introjected values. A person who lives by chosen values is likely to be more fulfilled than one who lives by introjected values. Living by introjected values often means going along to get along – just following the herd. The problem with this is that the herd will often take you to a place where you suddenly discover you don’t want to be, but now it’s too late to escape.

This is not to say that “anything goes,” however. As in all areas of human life, there are limits to the individual’s freedom – my freedom, in a sense, ends where it comes into contact with your freedom. We find ourselves most alive, most fulfilled, in relation to other people, not in some solipsistic place where only what we want is real. Such a place would turn out to be a dry and dusty desert, where we would eventually long for the refreshment of human contact – real, intimate contact. So we have to negotiate the limits our freedoms together, to come to agreement about the limits, without giving up what is right for us individually. A tough process, but one which will give meaning and excitement to life.

The importance of choice is highlighted by Covey as Habit 1: Be proactive. He cites the discovery of Victor Frankl that between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose: “Within the freedom to choose are those endowments that make us uniquely human.” These endowments, according to Covey, are self-awareness, imagination, conscience and independent will. “Between stimulus and response is our greatest power – the freedom to choose.” Says Covey.

Carl Rogers, the great humanistic psychologist, put is this way: “Man has within him an organismic basis for valuing. To the extent that he can be freely in touch with this valuing process in himself, he will behave in ways which are self-enhancing.”

And later in the same article, he states: “... such openness to experience leads to emerging value directions with appear to be common across individuals and perhaps even across cultures. ...individuals who are thus in touch with their experiencing come to value such directions as sincerity, independence, self-direction, self-knowledge, social responsivity, social responsibility, and loving interpersonal relationships.”

Academic achievement is not the only meaning of study. Here my daughter Caitlin receives a certificate of achievement from principal Zelna Botes
Academic achievement is not the only meaning of study. Here my daughter Caitlin receives a certificate of achievement from principal Zelna Botes

Study

By study I am not meaning only the common meaning of studying for an academic or technical qualification, important as those are. By study I mean getting deeper into anything that interests you – if you hear a piece of music that grabs you, find out who wrote it and what the circumstances were that led to it. If you enjoy a particular book, find out about the author, not just what other books he or she might have written, but where and how did they live, what were their interests. In other words, don’t just accept everything at face value but try to get underneath the surface.

I am often amazed when I find a person loves a particular piece of music but knows nothing more about it. Digging beneath the surface can enrich your mind and lead to ever greater understanding. An example – while writing this piece I came across the quotation on planning by E.B. White which I really enjoyed. I wanted to know more about him so did the obvious – I Googled his name and came up with the fact that he had written the books Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little. Now my daughter has long been fascinated by the movies of these books but I had not realised that they were based on books by the same author. Now I am enjoying other writings by him.

Study is being open to experience and looking deeper into it. Being ready to explore wherever life leads. Being humble in the face of experience, not being dogmatic or looking for answers, but being ready to enjoy the process of learning. Answers tend to close down enquiry – living in the process opens up possibilities that you cannot imagine when looking for answers.

Cover of Time Magazine
Cover of Time Magazine

Meditation

“Meditation, through its ability to help us navigate the mind, restores that ability of inner listening, allowing us to make the best choices.” – Joan Borysenko, author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind (1987).

One of the greatest ways to get to know yourself and how your mind works is to meditate. Meditation also has benefits in physical and spiritual states. Some of the benefits of regular meditation are stress reduction, strengthening of the body's immune system, better organized thought processes, improved powers of concentration, enhanced powers of memory, refinement and enlivening of the nervous system, awakening of regenerative energies, slowing of biologic aging processes, development of the capacities of the brain to process perceptions and states of consciousness, and orderly functioning of the body's organs, glands, and systems, according to the Centre for Spiritual Awareness, a Centre established by a Yogananda follower Roy Eugene Davis.

I was first alerted to the benefits of meditation by reading the book by Joan Borysenko, Minding the Body, Mending the Mind back in 1991 and I have been learning more about it ever since.

"We meditate to discover our own identity, our right place in the scheme of the universe. Through meditation, we acquire and eventually acknowledge our connection to an inner power source that has the ability to transform our outer world. In other words, meditation gives us not only the light of insight but also the power for expansive change." - from Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way (Pan, 1995)

Reading on

This Hub is part of a five-part series on balance and growth.

The other four Hubs can be found here:

Copyright Notice

The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Tony McGregor 2010

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Comments 27 comments

HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

This was a wonderful series Tony. I am going to bookmark it to read again in its entirety. There are tremendous pearls of wisdom. Thanks for writing it.


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

One makes their choices primarily out of convenience,making that convenience ordered to opportunity of moral advancement and benevolence to self and community is not human nature but human decency,thanks Tony.;)


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

Excellent, Tony. Very well said. I agree with you. I wrote a similar hub to this about freedom (although mine was based in Buddhism.)

Well done;

Peace;

Rob


kathryn1000 profile image

kathryn1000 5 years ago from London

I like this.Very interesting.Thank you.tony


tlpoague profile image

tlpoague 5 years ago from USA

Terrific piece of work. I'm bookmarking it for rememberance when I am having a down day. Thanks for sharing it.


amillar profile image

amillar 5 years ago from Scotland, UK

That is the greatest treasure Tony: to discover the best in oneself. Thank you for this excellent piece of work.

Up and useful.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Hi Tony~~ This was great "food for thought"...

I especially agree with your writing on study/ in teaching adults, it is often most difficult to get the "critical thinking" mechanisms working.

Voted UP & AWESOME~~ thank you!


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 5 years ago from I'm outta here

Tony, Now what a nice and balanced opening to a idea that could def make ones life better and enrich their future and the future of their loved ones. Good stuff and very well spoken. Spirituality is a vital part of complete prosperity in all areas of life. Voted up! :) Katie


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

HS - thanks for stopping by and for the very kind words. Glad you enjoyed it.

Love and peace

Tony


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago

You've been busy, Tony, and I have some catching up to do. What a wonderful series; and I love how you've organized the material, and most importantly, made it distinctly tonymac04. I especially enjoyed the value clarification reminder. It's so important to know what our values are, to own them as our own, and organize our behavior according to our values. Hmmm. Come to think of it, I have some housekeeping to do. Thanks Tony.


HattieMattieMae profile image

HattieMattieMae 5 years ago from Limburg, Netherlands

Wonderful hub, and so truthful! Love the quotes as well! :)


De Greek profile image

De Greek 5 years ago from UK

Now I am stumped by such a response :-))


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Bryan - thanks for that thoughtful and meaningful comment. Much appreciated.

Love and peace

Tony


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

Hi Tony,

Thanks for sharing this great hub; a brilliant read.

Take care

Eiddwen.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Rob - thanks for stopping by. Just been over to your Hub on freedom - it's great!

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Kathryn - thanks so much for stopping by and I'm glad you found this interesting.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Tlpoague - thanks for the kind words indeed!

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Amillar - thank you so much for your very kind words. They are much appreciated.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

marcoujor - thanks so much for stopping by. I appreciate your comment very much, as a facilitator of adult learning myself.

Love and peace

Tony


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

Nice finish brother Tony. I enjoyed it all. God bless you.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Katie - thanks for stopping by, good friend! I appreciate your kind words indeed. Glad you found it useful.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Kim - yes I have been (and still am!) busy. New Hubs coming up very soon. So glad that you found this series useful. I really am a great promoter of values clarification.

Thanks for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Hattie - thanks for stopping by and for the kind words.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Dimitris - I didn't think anything could ever get you stumped, young man! Thanks for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Eiddwen - I feel honoured that you liked this one. Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Micky - thanks for those kind words, kind sir! I appreciate them very much.

Love and peace

Tony


lionel1 profile image

lionel1 5 years ago

Your hub posts are always interesting to read, thank you so much.

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