Life is mainly froth and bubble. Two things stand like stone; kindness in another’s trouble; courage in your own. Adam Lindsay Gordon


Having determined my purpose in life was living to my highest self, I thought it timely to look at who I felt I was by reflecting on my earlier stated values, beliefs, and attitudes. When exploring these I had started with over 200, crossed off ones that didn’t apply, categorized, and gradually reduced the list to ones I felt most important.

I was amazed how closely my chosen values compared  to what philosophers and theologians describe as virtues. Virtues refer to moral attitudes, something ‘good’. Each virtue has either a ‘bad’ opposite, a vice (honesty vs deceit) or is the moral mid-point between a deficiency and excess (courage vs cowardice or foolhardiness). Virtues stated historically across civilizations and cultures are faith (belief), hope, charity (kindness) , wisdom, justice (fairness), temperance, and courage. There is no choice in virtues. We either have them or we do not.

In contrast the more recent term values imply a freedom of choice, with no good or bad, no virtue or vice. Any opposite is simply a different chosen way of living (spontaneity vs caution). With an emphasis in society on freedom of choice, and living by chosen values in order to reach lifestyle goals; values have become personality preferences aimed at something to have (health, wealth, success, prestige, popularity, happiness).

Conversely virtues describe something to be (honest, kind, considerate). As virtues become habits, they make the foundation of character. They become something that to give (trust, respect, courtesy) and guide us on what to do (show courage, care, fairness). They make us who we are. Virtues are what is now often termed ‘character strengths’.

Getting back to my own stated values, beliefs and attitudes; how was it that most of the ones I picked out could be regarded as virtues or character strengths? My upbringing had something to do with it as I am a child of the 60’s where these were taught at school, church and home. My circumstance contributed, as suffering a huge loss of my marriage ending changed the way I valued things. However, I feel the main reason was the inner priority I placed on my values, and the core guiding principle of someone to be as opposed to something to have.

My original lengthy list of ‘values’, was reduced down by thinking of situations where I had to prioritise, where I had to choose between my own values. In an ideal world I value many things – finishing tasks, excellence, good health, orderliness – to name a few. However, when a loved one becomes ill, if a family member or friend needs my support; some ‘values’ disappear. To me, punctuality, having a tidy house, or finishing a work project are of lower importance than being caring, kind and dependable. Without realising at the time, I was prioritising my values. I was dividing them into essential and non-essential. I was placing more importance on the values of ‘being’ how I wanted to be, and thereby ‘doing’ what I considered the right thing, over what I wanted to ‘have’. My stated lists were in fact my ‘core’ values, my top priorities, those values that always mattered, those values that I feel should never be compromised.

If I was to prioritise further, I would regard my top four priority values are to be courageous, kind, fair and wise; so that I may act with courage, kindness, fairness and wisdom. This is the way I feel I should be living my life. These values will enable me to “live to my highest self”. It is these core values that I feel will guide me to be the person who I want to be.


My core “Values”, “Beliefs”, and “Attitudes” are listed and linked in 40 steps to me.

Image courtesy [nongpimmy]

Finding my purpose

“If you survive you can tell the story, you can go on. If you don’t survive, that’s it”.
Maria Belon. Tsunami 2004 survivor


What a tragedy to climb the ladder of life, one step at a time, to fulfill your supposed role in life, to do your tasks to the very best of your abilities, to finally reach the top, only to discover the ladder has been leaning against the wrong wall (1).

I do not think my “ladder” has been leaning against the wrong wall all my life, and I certainly would not have changed my role in life of being a wife and mother for anything and doing that to the best of my ability.

Here is the bit that I got wrong – I had believed my purpose in life was the “being a wife and mother” bit. It wasn’t and it isn’t. It was the “doing that to the best of my ability” bit. That is my purpose.

More than that, my purpose in life I believe is:

“To Live To My Highest Self and Inspire Others To Do The Same”.

Being a wife and mother and doing that to the very best of my abilities, inspiring my children to do their best, was not my sole purpose but rather has been one of the ways I have been able to fulfill my purpose. Over the years, there have been other ways.

What about today?

“To Live to my highest self …..’

Throughout all the wading through the mud of this transition in my life of the divorce process and its subsequent grief, one of the biggest losses I have felt has been my loss of purpose. Living to my highest self, doing my best. How can I be and do my best when so often over the last two years I have been down on the floor?

That is the one fact I have now come to accept. Some days, when I have been down on the floor, standing up is the very best I have been able to do. Surviving was my highest self.

On other days, my very best has included a range of meaningful activities.

And on some days, I have been able to lend a helping hand to those in need.

What I have come to realise is that ‘living to my highest self’ does not mean ‘the highest and very best that I have ever been capable of‘, but rather ‘the very best that I can be and do – today – in whatever the circumstance is‘.

“……. To Inspire Others To Do The Same”.

This is not meant to mean to inspire others to do what I would have done in their situation. It means to inspire others to do the best they can do with their own talents and strengths, in the circumstances they find themselves in.

Have I done this in the past two years?

After I was hit by the hurricane ending of my marriage, I survived. I survived the first minutes of agony and the first hour. I survived the first day, the second day, and the whole of the first week. I survived the first month, then several months. I revived. I got my life back. I saw myself as an individual rather than half a couple. I saw myself as a person with my own needs and desires; and a right to my own values, opinions and beliefs. I went on a fascinating journey of the discovery of me. I took back control of my life. I am driving my own path forward. I will chose my own destiny. I will create meaning in my life. From a tiny seed sown in the depths of a winter of despair, my transformed self is beginning to blossom.

That is my message. By example. I survived. I revived. I arrived. If I can, you can.

A new goal

To apply my experiences of my past to my present circumstances with positiveness towards an optimal future; and to spread the wisdom I have gained through my abilities as a communicator.


(1) Analogy from ‘The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People’; Stephen Covey. Habit # 2 ‘Begin With The End In Mind’.

Image courtesy [nattavut]