Seven sins: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without
character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without
sacrifice, politics without principle.
Just describe the 2 or 3, maybe 4 or 5, major values that will
determine the basic meaning and purpose of your life. Write them
down--thoughts are too ephemeral. Write quickly, don't polish. Your
philosophy will and should change as you grow. Remember: you are
deciding on your ideals, your highest possible goals, your noblest spirit
and dreams, your hoped-for accomplishments, your most inspired
visions of your future. Don't worry at this point about how to achieve
these ideals. That's the next step. Now, write your philosophy.
Putting Your Philosophy Into Action:
Research Findings About Helping Others
A philosophy of life that doesn't influence your behavior isn't worth
much. In fact, values can be used in harmful ways: a source of guilt, a
cop-out that appeases your conscience ("I'm not doing much but I
have wonderful values"), a device for putting down others ("my values
are better than yours"), etc. But, a set of values, firmly believed and
followed with dedication, is the basis for goodness, maybe even
greatness. In terms of interpersonal values--charity, love, tolerance,
etc.--you have an equal chance, no matter who you are, to be among
the best. You can have praiseworthy values without having money (in
fact, being poor may make it easier), without being educated, without
travel or culture or worldliness. Others will respect and admire you, if
you act out high values. We are, of course, talking about a life-long
process of continual re-evaluation of your values and re-appraisal of
how to optimally live your values day by day. However, today is the
beginning of the rest of your life. So, let's decide what we can do to
live up to our highest values.
I will assume you have already drafted your philosophy of life.
Now, let's see how research can help us live the ideal of helping others
(if that is not one of your values, read on anyway). See Kohn (1992)
for an excellent review of the good side of people. What kinds of
people are good to others? They tend to be more confident,
happier, positive, more achieving, and not very self-centered or
dominant (Myers, 1992; Wilson, 1976: Whiting & Whiting, 1975).
Caring people also tend to be more active, assertive (cooperative but
not competitive), more free to express feelings, more gregarious
(Mussen & Eisenberg-Berg, 1977), and not surprising, more sensitive