Our Mental Health: Living life’s journey with everlasting values

“Moral values and graciousness, in the past, were prominent in most of our youth…

“However, these moral values and self-discipline are slowly diminishing over the

“Years, as most of the younger generation are gradually disregarding these values…

“This lack of self-discipline and self-control is becoming more and more evident”

– Anonymous

Is this really true? Are today’s youth losing their moral compass?

The news and the literature tend to support this. Yet we know that many are not, they have been taught correctly and have learned the fundamental values to lead a moral life…they have been given the values that will be everlasting and accompany them on their life’s journey.

For those of you readers who follow my weekly column, I wrote last week about the value of respect. There are many other essential values that should be internalized by our youth. Youth do not develop a sense of values by happenstance, they must be taught about them, and choose to accept them as a part and parcel of their life.

Just what are values anyway? We all know that something or someone who is “valued” is the worth we place on them; the traditional definition being relative worth, merit, or usefulness. However, “values” are much more than that; they are essentially the combination of both the cognitive concepts and the emotional attitudes that have both negative and positive importance; they are the mind-brain processes that combine cognition (thinking) and emotions (feelings) — in other words, our thinking that results in the emotional, feeling, response. Values are the ideals, customs, institutions, etc. that arouse an emotional response, for or against them, in a given society or given person.

It has been suggested that our young people today are sorely lacking in values so very essential to their growth and development. We discussed the value of Respect last week; the respect for self and others, which is a very important value to be learned and practiced. Other values of equal mention are honesty, accountability, patience, and responsibility. Probably the greatest value to be learned is honesty; especially as it applies to one’s self. Honesty is a virtue.

Accountability entails admitting to making a mistake. Everyone will make mistakes along life’s journey, accountability means that the person has the courage to accept and admit ones error and “own it” as totally theirs. With youth learning so much today in this fast-pace world, with the internet, etc., youth are becoming more and more impatient.

While desires, “wants,” are increasing at an alarming rate, youth are not willing to work hard to get them met, because to do so requires patience. Responsibility is another major value that youth need to learn; to take responsibility for their own thoughts, feelings, and actions.

All of these values need to be taught to youth beginning at a very early age, lest they turn toward the negative components of the value, eg. lying vs. truth, blaming vs. acceptance, disrespecting others rather than respecting, etc.

In this “computer age,” and the fast pace that accompanies it, many youth are pushed beyond their intellectual capabilities. Our educational systems push youth toward university studies, yet we know that there are those who would not succeed in university, or those that really do not want to go to university; their values want to take them elsewhere, toward an occupation in the construction industry, automobile maintenance, the service industry, etc., all which are most needed and honorable occupations so necessary in our society.

The idea that everyone can succeed in university studies or one can be “anything they want to be,” is a serious misconception; and places a lot of stress on those who cannot do it; and only adds to the existing lack of self-discipline and self-control that our young people are experiencing.

The lack of self responsibility and accountability (as well as choosing the negative side of other values) most often leads to major problems within our young population; and my colleagues and I in the Mental Health field have been witness to it so very often; alcohol and other drug use/abuse, pre-marital sex, shoplifting, and other types of criminal activity, bullying, diminished school activity and grades, etc.

Due to the materialistic and egoistical thinking of today’s youth, and their feelings associated with their thinking, parents and educators are faced with a most challenging dilemma. Although they can instill in youth the values so necessary, the acceptance of the values is ultimately in the hands of the youth…a matter of choices.

As I have written about so very often, our life’s journey is marked with adventure, risk, rituals and a myriad of associated acts and behaviors, and predicated by the choices that one makes. Making healthy choices in our life’s journey is based on knowing right from wrong and the consequences of our choices…our values as applied to ourselves and in our relationships toward others. Life is about accepting the positive values and; making choices to do so.

Are you parents and educators instilling in your youth the values so necessary for them to make healthy choices and succeed on their life’s journey, values that will be everlasting? Until Next Time, Stay Healthy My Friends!