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Valuing Values

June 24, 2009

Dear Reader,

During your life, you have surely heard talk of mystical things called values, and, still more, the idea of value. I know for sure that, in my time traversing the Princedom, I have heard much talk that used these words. But everyone accepts these terms at face value (no pun intended), and, as far as I know, no one has asked the question, “Whoa, waitasecond, what do these words, value and values, even mean?”

After some thought on these words, I have come to find a definition for them.

Values can be defined as the set of ideas or personal qualities that a person finds to be morally good or beneficial. A person with value to another person is one who displays or embodies the values of that other person. Thus, a person’s value is arbitrarily defined by other people, and can hold different values to different people. For example, a person could be of very high value to one person, but of very low value to another, based on their respective sets of values. These values could be personal characteristics like intelligence, maturity, sense of humor, attitude, etc. – and, as we all know, people have differing sets of values.

In the interest of clarity, I’ll give you an example: let’s say that John is a boisterous, energetic young man who is extremely confident, almost to the point of arrogance, and is brutally honest. Frank, one of his friends, loves people who are secure, confident, and outgoing, and appreciates honesty very much. On the other hand, Luke may be a more introverted, humble type, who possesses quiet confidence, and likes being politically correct and diplomatic in arguments. To Frank, John possesses high value because John fits the mold of what Frank values in people: he is honest and extremely confident and extroverted. Luke thinks John holds low value because he finds him too loud, arrogant, and blunt – their values don’t match. Conversely, John probably wouldn’t think much of Luke either – he probably finds him too cold and, at some level, dishonest because of his tact.

Still following these definitions, a person can never have an “absolute value”, because his or her value depends on the person who is judging him/her, and thus, assigning him a value. (Now, though I say “value” here, I don’t mean that we’re going to be using these people and manipulating them at all. What I mean by “value” is how much we like and enjoy their company and them as persons and general, and, as a way as quantifying this, I call this “value”. Most people like other people who resemble themselves, or who they’d like to be, like role models.) Back to the idea of an “absolute value”, where someone holds inherent value over other people – it doesn’t exist, simply because value is totally arbitrary. Many people may love a person (he carries high value to them), but another person may despise him, because he does not fit the mold of his own values. Some people will despise you and some will love you, but the case where someone is universally loved or hated is extremely unlikely, if not impossible, simply because the variances in

Of course, what matters most to a person is how they view themselves – or, at least, it should be. We can work in a definition of self-esteem here as well, using the previous definition of values: A person has self-esteem directly proportional to how well they perceive they embody their values. A person will have low self-esteem if they don’t embody their values, and they will have very high self-esteem if they do. But note how it is only their values which determine self-esteem; no amount of external validation from others (hence, having value to other people) will give them self-esteem, since they are only responding to others’ values. Observe how the people who go out of their way to please others and garner their praise are most often the ones crippled by low self-esteem – they try, and fail, in trying to replace self-esteem with the acceptance of others. But it still eats away at them, and they try harder still to replace that gaping hole in their breast with others’ praise! Mark my words, people:

Princiom #3: There is no substitute for self-esteem. No amount of love, praise, money, or distraction can cover up a lack of self-esteem.

“But Prince,” you ask, “why all this talk about values and value and self-esteem? How does this help me in life? How does this help me be happy?”

Think a little bit, will you? Haven’t you noticed that the people you have liked and loved the most have had similar values to you?

“But Your Majesty, many of my best friends have been the opposites in me in behavior! I was the shy introvert, and they were the bold extrovert! Explain that with your values!”

SILENCE! You have assumed, wrongly, that values determine behavior. In a perfect world, where everyone is the true embodiment of their values, they do, but, in reality, values are merely the conceptions of what people desire of others and themselves, regardless of whether or not they actually represent these values themselves. Many times, people value what they are not, and they like people who do not share their weaknesses. In your situation, you may have admired your friend’s bold confidence, and he may have admired and valued your shyness, tact, and thoughtfulness. Maybe he wished he could be more like you, and I’m willing to bet you wanted to be more like him. And that brings us back to our original definition of values, doesn’t it?

But, as you work on yourself, and continue to strive for higher self-esteem through fulfillment of your values, you may realize something: your friends will become more like you.

My next letter will deal with friends, and what you can do to separate the real ones from the actors.

Valuing truth, justice, happiness, and freedom,
The Prince

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2009 11:12 am

    well said, prince. i enjoyed your philosophical musing!

  2. June 29, 2009 7:13 pm

    Why thank you, Princess Sulz. It’s much appreciated.

  3. June 29, 2009 11:36 pm

    princess? LOL.

  4. June 30, 2009 11:56 pm

    Would you prefer duchess, countess, or queen? Pick one, lest I reduce you to the level of a peasant!

    I just had to give you a title.

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