We make dozens of decisions every day. Do I go down Emerson or do I take Dudley? Should I order a soft drink or get iced tea? Would a striped shirt go better with these pants or a solid?
The difficult decisions move us into a different category. How much life insurance should I buy? Do I need to preplan my funeral? Should I go after that promotion? Do I really need to see a doctor about that pain in my back?
We make most decisions on what we might call “core beliefs.” I take Dudley because it’s shorter and I believe in going the shortest way possible. I wear the solid shirt because my core belief tells me to wear something that makes me blend in with the crowd and not stand out. I go after the promotion because I think I should seek my highest level of attainment. I made the appointment because I believe prevention is the best way to good health and long life.
A small set of “core beliefs” can aid us as we maneuver through life. Think about how these “core beliefs” make life simpler.
Always be honest. Deciding on whether to take back the extra change you got at the store, whether to turn in the wallet you found, or whether to list internet purchases on the WV state income tax form become easy decisions if we have a “core belief” about honesty. The old adage that “honesty is the best policy” reminds us that honesty saves us time and effort in the long run. Belief in honesty leads to easier decisions.
Be respectful. Deciding whether to cut off other drivers in traffic when we run late, how high to set the volume on the car radio, or whether to jeer at the referee at the high school basketball game rely on what we think about respect. The courtesy level of any community depends on the core beliefs about respect. The more widespread adoption of this core belief the more pleasant life becomes for everyone in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
Protect the vulnerable. It does not take much to make life miserable for a young child or a jobless man or elderly shut in. It takes time for the strong to give attention to a child, assist someone in a job search or visit that widow next door. Whether we do those things depends on what we believe about the vulnerable. The level of life in a community seldom rises above the way the weakest people are treated.
Be frugal. In a consumeristic society which keeps up a constant pressure to purchase more things, frugality can make it easier to decide how much to spend. I heard about a family that had a “thirty-day list” on the refrigerator. Any item over $500 had to be on the list before the family would make the purchase. It eliminated impulse buying. Developing the specifics of what frugality means for one’s own family makes navigating any website or store more consistent with one’s core beliefs.
Protect the environment. Pollution and waste result from multiple decisions by a whole nation of people. Deciding to renew, recycle and resist excess can not only make our environment healthier but also facilitate decision-making. Having a core belief about the value of the world’s resources we use results in decisions that protect where we live.
Adding to this list of core beliefs might provide an interesting exercise for all of us and especially for families with children seeking to help their offspring develop healthy values. Being aware of these core beliefs can make life easier and aid us when the tough decisions confront us.