What qualities do you admire most in others? What qualities do you strive to model yourself? Did you know your qualities (in other words, the things about your character that stand out most to others) all come from your values? Values are the sentiments we hold close to our hearts, and usually, they are what cause us to be good, virtuous people.
These fundamental values make up the foundation of our society and allow us to function in harmony and solidarity, despite our differences. These are the values that you’re thankful for when you get a phone call that your lost wallet has been found (with all the cash still inside), or when a stranger helps you change your flat tire on the side of the road.
With moral relativism becoming more prevalent (sadly, even encouraged!), many people (the young especially) are missing out on the development of some crucial values. In our increasingly PC society, many are succumbing to a misplaced view that there are no moral absolutes. (With a deemphasis on character-based education, it’s not surprising.) Because of this, these students aren’t operating with qualities that will allow them to be as successful in life. How, you may ask? When the value of honesty isn’t instilled from a young age, relationships, job performance, and even academic life will suffer later on. When people don’t value respect for others, they will lose control, lash out, and potentially ruin their own reputation. See what I mean?
In this second part of our series on values, I’d like to discuss three more that are crucial to model and develop in our young people.
- Empathy. When you empathize with people, you enter into their world and their feelings to provide support and encouragement. Along with compassion, it is one of the most powerful human qualities of generosity. Empathy is an incredibly important value, as it makes us nurturing parents, loving spouses, supportive friends, and service-minded community members. Empathy allows you to help the people around you feel loved, supported, and understood.
- Responsibility. I like to think of responsibility as taking ownership of our attitudes, actions, and performance. It’s really an amalgam of accountability, trustworthiness, reliability, capability, and high personal standards. It’s being someone others can count on, no matter what. Responsible adults admit when they’ve made a mistake, prioritize their time wisely, tell the truth, show up on time, and have the courage to say no to risky situations. And, they don’t blame others or make excuses for their shortfalls. We could use more of this, don’t you think?
- Resilience. How many of us have been knocked down in life, only to lose all hope and wonder if the situation could get any worse? That, my friends, is the opposite of resilience. Resilient people handle adversity with grace and confidence. Did you notice how this admirable quality was on full display at the Olympics? They get back up, try again, and understand that oftentimes, adversity can create room for further personal growth. You know the old saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” It’s true!
No matter where you lie when it comes to your religious and political leanings, I think we can all agree that the above values are, well, valuable! They have the power to create stronger families, safer communities, and happier neighborhoods! Oh, and a happier you!
What values would you add to this list? Can you think of a situation in which you’ve benefitted from someone else’s strong values? How is your school incorporating values training in the classroom?