In the last three articles, we explored the following: Human authenticity and conscious living; Premise One: Authenticity is essential to the human experience; And, Premise Two: Emotional intelligence and our human experience. In this third installment, the discussion focuses on having a vision in order to move forward. Vision gives us a sense of direction. It is based on specific core values and beliefs that guide and direct us toward something. It gives us a sense of vibrancy as we live consciously.
Any successful endeavor requires a vision. The original Hebrew word for vision is, i.e. a dream, revelation, or oracle. This word appears thirty five times in the Bible (Old Testament). There are over one hundred listings of several other Hebrew words in the Old Testament referencing vision, or revelation. Therefore, in general vision in the Old Testament refers to a direct revelation from God, either in person or in a dream. The word “visions means the ability to see things that are invisible.” in other words seeing things through God’s Eyes.
The premise is this: if we do not have a vision of where we want to go in our life, and how to cultivate a sense of meaning and purpose through this vision, we inevitably perish. Therefore, our vision is based on a particular revelation or insight. It is finding what is singularly important to us, and how we are moving toward achieving this goal. In my own opinion, our personal vision is our sense of purpose. Finding our sense of purpose helps align us to living consciously in order to continually move toward our goal. For the Christian, the vision and purpose is to live a life that is Christ-Centered. What this means, how it is manifested, and in what ways it is accomplished differs.
Identifying core values and beliefs
The first step is to identify the specific core values and beliefs. Without understanding one’s core values and beliefs, one may not know how to begin their journey toward a fulfilling and satisfactory life.
Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. These guiding principles dictate behavior and can help people understand the difference between right and wrong. Core values also help … determine if an individual is on the right path and fulfilling their goals by creating an unwavering guide.
These core values and beliefs are representative of our highest priorities, deeply held beliefs, core and fundamental driving forces. Establishing an understanding this helps us realize the motivation by which we desire to make choices in which we desire to behave. They are reflecting in a value statement. How does one come to identify core values and beliefs?
One simple exercise I use with my patients, who are in recovery from substance use disorder, is a values card sort activity. How this works is as follows:
- Access and download the PDF File (linked above).
- On a piece of paper, make three columns: Most Important, Very Important, and Important*
- Take a few moments to write down the values in each column until you have written approximately 10-15 values in each column
- Review the values you have written out in each column and identify the top five out of each column
- Review the five values in each column and identify the top three in each column
- Make a new column for Most important, Very Important, and Important
- Rank the top three values in each column from Most important to Important
- Using the first value in each column, you will incorporate this into a Declaration statement
- The next six values will be utilized in a vision, purpose, or vision statement.
There are a variation of identifying core values one may utilize. One of the best tools is to access is Stephen Covey’s Mission Statement Builder. This will assist in building a more robust and personal statement. The goal is to find a way to develop an awareness of your own personal values, and then making a written statement regarding those values and beliefs.
What follows are a couple of videos on the empowerment mission statements give us.
Once we have wrestled with and identified our own mission, cultivate an understanding of how to derive purpose from this mission (based on our core values and beliefs) we are capable to make the following decisions:
- What is my intent on living a conscious life that has meaning and purpose?
- What is my level of commitment to moving toward implementing and living according to identified values and beliefs?
- What is the motivation for me to strive to develop a life that has meaning and purpose?
Significant importance of life meaning and purpose
The next step, once we have identified, written out, and explored ways to implement our mission statement, is to understand the significant importance of having life meaning and purpose. One of the most interesting areas where developing life meaning and purpose has had an impact are with those engaged in recovery from substance use disorder. The premise is to find a holistic way to transform one’s life. This is what our core values, beliefs, and sense of purpose does: transforms our lives from one perceptive way of thinking and living and into a whole new way of seeing ourselves.
In his book, Sacred Recovery, Rami Shapiro explains that the greatest desire for human existence is to experience happiness. On the same token, his observation is that humanity’s greatest addiction is our illusion of control. Developing a life of meaning and purpose does two things:
First, we recognize true and genuine happiness comes from living by established values and beliefs that brings us joy. Second, having defined meaning and purpose helps us break free from the bondage of our illusion to control. Third, we come to accept the reality of how our lives are shaped by people, places, things, and events that are relatively out of our control. Fourth, life meaning and purpose provides us the strength and ability to manage our own way of living.
Genuine happiness stems from joy
In our society today, having a sense of meaning and purpose appears to focus on this premise of Chasing after happiness. This is based on the relative idea of if, then statements. For example:
If I get a better paying job, then I will be able to pay my bills and be happy.
If my spouse/partner treats me with respect, then I’ll be happy.
If people will treat me with respect, then I’ll be happy.
What we want to accomplish is contingent on whether it brings us a sense of happiness. We falsely believe that once we achieve something, we will be able to be content and therefore, life will become enjoyable. Unfortunately, it does not lead to contentment, joy, and peace. It leads to frustrations, disappointments, anxiety, depression, and even moves someone toward substance use. Others may tend to manipulate people, places, things, and events in order to bring about their one sense of happiness.
The opposite is to begin finding what we enjoy in life. Maintaining our sense of worth, our sense of freedom, our sense of fun, and our own sense of belonging. It is what we are empowered and capable of doing for ourselves and by ourselves to experience joy. Happiness is a fleeting emotion that is experienced in the present moment. Joy, on the other hand, is something that is more grounded and permanent. What this may mean is that we may have disappointments in life, yet continue to enjoy who we are and understand what our own significant meaning and purpose is.
That is the heart having life meaning and purpose. It is the single most important factor. Knowing and understanding who we are, regardless the adversity and circumstances we may experience. It is not so much what we experience that matters, it is how we respond in relation to people, places, things and events. People do not define who we are. They have no power or influence over us. We define who we are through core values and beliefs.
How we derive vision to move forward from LMP
As stated, developing vision is important to live a conscious life. Doing so brings us to a place of discovering how life is meaningful for us, how we are living with purpose by building upon our established values and beliefs. It provides the framework by which we establish necessary goals to move forward. It drives us through motivation to overcome. So, what is it we are to overcome?
Our fear. What is the basis for our fear? Our inability to overcome that which we are facing. LMP provides us the foundation to have the courage to make the most important decisions that are calculated toward achieving what we desire. It’s the ability to continue to find value in our own adversity. We fear our own ability to step out into the wilderness with faith and hope. It prevents us from growing and maturing.
Vision gives us the ability to harmonize our genuine joy for life and to experience genuine happiness. There is no contingency. It becomes natural by product of continually moving forward and achieving realistic goals. We continue to grow, continue to experience greater contentment, greater happiness, and a greater sense of peace. Whereby, we develop a deeper sense of joy and gratitude.
It really is not about what others are capable of doing for us. It is more about what we are capable of doing for ourselves that matter the most.