Having Self-Direction (Schwartz Theory of Basic Values)

This post is going to be personal as I’ll be recording some of my real-world experiences. Not all might find this edifying. The reason I’m writing this post is that I find that writing out stuff helps me better organize thoughts in my mind.

I read a book that talked about the different basic values that people have in life. The Schwartz theory of basic values is basically “ten basic personal values that are recognized across cultures and explains where they come from”. This intrigued me a lot, as by looking through this lens of basic values, I could see what causes people to act in the way that they do.

Upon introspection I found one value to be the most important to me out of the ten, which is self-direction. And of course, this is a value that is fairly common, and that is why it is mentioned among ‘basic’ values in the first place. I might write another post describing the other values that I hold, but for now, let us stick to this one here.

Here are the 10 values in Schwartz Theory of Basic Values:

  1. “Self-Direction – Defining goal: independent thought and action–choosing, creating, exploring.”
  2. “Stimulation – Defining goal: excitement, novelty, and challenge in life.”
  3. “Hedonism – Defining goal: pleasure or sensuous gratification for oneself.”
  4. “Achievement – Defining goal: personal success through demonstrating competence according to social standards.”
  5. “Power – Defining goal: social status and prestige, control or dominance over people and resources.”
  6. “Security – Defining goal: safety, harmony, and stability of society, of relationships, and of self.”
  7. “Conformity – Defining goal: restraint of actions, inclinations, and impulses likely to upset or harm others and violate social expectations or norms.”
  8. “Tradition – Defining goal: respect, commitment, and acceptance of the customs and ideas that one’s culture or religion provides.”
  9. “Benevolence – Defining goal: preserving and enhancing the welfare of those with whom one is in frequent personal contact (the ‘in-group’).”
  10. “Universalism – Defining goal: understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and protection for the welfare of all people and for nature.”

So for Self-Direction…

How did I end up holding this value?

Like all other values that people have, this has been a result of the experiences of the past. Growing up, I’ve always been a kid who quite didn’t fit in with the other kids.

I sure know now that that doesn’t mean that I was somehow special, either in a good or bad way. Every kid has different things that they go through. For me, I found it difficult to get on the bus with anyone else’s world view. I don’t know what was the reason for that, but I’m happy in a way that I that happened, cause that has helped me to not get sucked into anything blindly in life. Even if it was from someone close.

What effect did this belief have on me?

Not sharing a worldview with people early in life does have its side effects. Introversion is one such thing that I probably got from this. Introverts rarely develop social skills as much as what extroverts do, simply because they do not interact with people that often, which is actually the number one way to improve social skills.

But one major thing that this belief helped me achieve was assuming responsibility aka self-reliance. Books like Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink describe how taking responsibility for things in life, even if it isn’t your fault, is the difference between people who achieve what they want to achieve, and the people who settle. Despite this, I do believe that one should be willing to seek help if the problem is too severe or fatal.

Why do I hold this belief now?

It is obvious for one reason that I would stick with this belief cause I’ve always had it, and it’s hard to change what you believe. It is also obvious for another reason that this belief has always only helped me in life, and never a hindrance, so there is no reason for me to not believe it.

The main reason why I hold this value is because of the philosophy that comes with it. Free will. When some people think about God and life, they think that we somehow live in a simulation where God is the one who sets up the process rolling and decides the outcome, and we all simply go through the motions. This is far from the truth when it comes to what the Bible says. Here is what God says:

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

Deuteronomy 30:19 (KJV)

I will discuss free will in the Bible in a different blog post, but for now, the bottom line is that it is important to have independent thoughts in life. You sure can get advice and suggestions from other people, but at the end of the day, it should be you who always makes up your mind.

Finally, I would like you to guys to comment on what is the most important value to you out of the 10, and why, in the comments section below.

Until later!

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