We are all treasure hunters, looking for the secret to success and fulfillment in our lives. Usually, we believe the treasure is hiding somewhere outside ourselves. And our search for it can go on endlessly. Due to this external focus, we do not see that it is right in front of us moment by moment. We do not see what needs to be done, cared for or respected. So many small, but powerful opportunities for growth and happiness pass us by.
Value Centered Living turns this all around. It focuses upon simple, eternal truths that we actualize in our daily lives, no matter what is going on. Like vitamins and minerals, these basic truths have the power to nourish ourselves and others, and make all things complete.
Value Centered Living bypasses the illusions that grip us and cause us to search everywhere and feel that we are destined for unhappiness, whatever we do. Rather than struggle to get what we want and then get more of it, we simply work directly with attention. The question before us always is: What am I focusing on this moment? Where is my attention, right now? Is it upon what I lack, or the pains and wrongs others have done me, or is my attention upon what is right in front of me right now?
Reality continually renews and confronts us with new tasks, relationships, challenges, and opportunities, day after day. Are we in touch with this ever-flowing reality? Are we asking ourselves what we can give to others, or dwelling upon how deprived we've always been? By taking our attention off our toxic inner dialogue, and focusing upon what is before us, right now, we directly interfere with the habitual patterns that are the very cause of our disappointments and suffering.
When our thoughts are primarily absorbed with what we are needing, and what others are thinking of us, we live in a prison without bars. Any slight, real or imagined, can become the cause of great pain. It can cause withdrawal and retreat into fantasies. Any perceived failure often causes underlying feelings of worthlessness to emerge, producing additional depression, hostility and stress.
In Value Centered Living, we take charge of our focus. First we put our focus upon simple daily actions that are before us, and do them whole-heartedly. We keep in mind our larger life-purpose, and upon daily doing "deeds of worth". Passing emotions do not take center stage. We learn to discriminate between intuitive feelings, and those which are fleeting, and obstruct our growth.
As the Buddha said, we are what we think about. Morita, a Japanese psychiatrist, the founder of Morita Therapy, states that all neurosis comes from frozen attention. Attention that has gotten stuck and fixed upon recurring negative thoughts. In the West we call this obsession. In the world of Zen, this condition is described as being in the grip of one's ego, pre-occupied by self-centered thoughts.
In Value Centered Living, whether applied to our personal lives and relationships, or to the workplace, we learn to value each action (no matter how small or large), to do it with complete attention. We do not dwell upon the outcome. Our joy and satisfaction comes from doing each action with a whole heart and mind. Results and consequences then take care of themselves.
When we are not absorbed by concern for outcomes, how much anxiety can we ever have?
The medicine Value Centered Living offers is simple and direct. It has no negative side effects and the more you take it the sweeter it tastes. As we learn to do each task completely, we then focus upon doing "deeds of worth".
Deeds of worth are deeds that link you to your highest and best self. They are deeds that develop trust, respect and inspiration both in you and those you come in contact with. Each individual has their own particular deeds of worth, and there are specific ways of finding out which ones belong to you.
In order to discover our own deeds of worth, first we must become aware of what is truly meaningful to us.
Most are unaware of what they truly value and respect. These values must be identified and manifested day by day. What brings deepest fulfillment, and connects us to all of life? Which deeds are a way of truly giving to others, as opposed to inadvertently causing trouble or pain? As we work in this process, we learn how to discover our own deeds of worth and to do them daily, no matter what is going on.
The most powerful antidote to unhappiness is a strong sense of self worth. This comes about naturally when we live a life worthy of respect. When an individual aligns their highest values and daily actions, they naturally discover their own "deeds of worth".
The next step takes place naturally. As we proceed in this manner we inevitably become conscious of all we are receiving daily and give thanks for it, promptly and completely. In times of trouble, rather than seek others to blame, we turn our attention to becoming aware of the ways in which we have contributed to the difficulty - how consciously or unconsciously, we may have breached a trust. When we realize our part in situations, we naturally make appropriate amends. As this process takes place, it is amazing how little time or room there is for depression, disappointment or feelings of failure. The individual is too busy, engaged in an active, daily practice of self- discovery, friendship, and constructive growth.
"Caring for others, makes the whole world come alive."
Dr. Brenda Shoshanna, 'Touchstones to Love' Newsletter