As Indians, we pride ourselves on our heritage and deep-rooted values which guide us through life’s major challenges and quandaries and help us lead a meaningful life. But these values don’t magically pass on from one generation to the other. Building and living by our values requires conscious efforts such as:
1 Read a lot: Be it religious texts, true life stories, textbooks or fictional work, reading brings us face to face with the outside world. It exposes us to new ideas, to the triumphs and tribulations of others, and different ways of looking at the world.
2 Spend time with grandparents: Our values are not passed on to us from our parents, but rather from our grandparents. Their simple stories can bring complex morals and values alive; their experience can teach us more than any textbook.
3 Think about others: Our values turn into actions when we go beyond ourselves and think about others as well. Consider the feelings of others before acting. Think of how you would have felt if the same had been done to you.
4 Become responsible: There’s no better way to learn than from experience. Our lives are fraught with moments when we question our ethics and values. Take responsibility for your actions and decisions.
5 Be open: Values are not just some sentences meant to be blindly imbibed or accepted. Instead, discuss concerns and dilemmas with your parents and teachers and ask pertinent questions.
6 Have meaningful discussions with your peers: Our peers are individuals who are similar to us in many ways and different – with diverse families and backgrounds. Engaging in meaningful discussions with them can open you up to newer ideas and perspectives.
7 Become involved in something that appeals to you and helps others: There is great satisfaction in helping others. Think of an activity that you enjoy that can still help someone else – be it community service, assisting a classmate in maths or giving music lessons to someone with limited means.
8 Be honest to yourself: Our values are not rules imposed on us from our parents, teachers or priests. They are what we hold to be most important in ourselves. We all make mistakes, but accepting them and being honest with ourselves is the only way to become better human beings.
9 Think for yourself: Don’t do things under pressure simply because others ask you to or you see others around you do it. Think critically and think for yourself. Do what your conscience tells you to do.
10 Value the means, not just the end: There are times when we are tempted to compromise on the means to reach the end. But winning may not always justify the costs.
Life is not just about what we achieved, but rather how we achieved it.
The author is director, Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare