Last week I presented my chart describing the Elements of Relationships. The five main categories are core values, honesty/integrity, attraction, interests, and complimentary facets. Today we’ll look closely at core values and we’ll give some examples of Forrest Gump’s core values.
Core Values generally are described as what is most important for an individual. They can come from a variety of sources. They can change and evolve over time. They typically become more fixed with years and experience. Douglas Woods gives a full description of personal core values. In business, the term Core Values describes a corporation’s values, culture, and the way they do business.
To present my list of Core Values, I’ve divided them into four separate groupings: Spirituality (or Faith); Family/Friends; Finances; & Fitness/Health. I believe spouses, significant others and true, deep friendships mostly share common beliefs and philosophies within the core value groupings.
Do you have your core values clearly defined and articulated? Do you believe sharing common core values is a basis for friendships and relationships?
The four categories of core values are:
Many couples share a common religion or similar spiritual beliefs. I believe that spiritual beliefs are most important for handling really important decisions, events, and crisis in one’s life: shared spiritual beliefs act as a foundation and can be a mechanism for handling these hurdles together.
Death is of course the most extreme example of relying on faith; Forrest Gump showed his faith in God when he spoke at the graves of Bubba and Jenny, and when he spoke compassionately of his mother’s passing. Forrest prayed in a Baptist Church when he needed strength as he struggled in the early, unsuccessful days of his shrimpin’ business.
Spirituality and faith can also play a significant role in raising children. What will they be taught about God? Faith? Prayer? Possessing spirituality and faith helps one deal with the struggles of finances, family, friends and illnesses.
I personally am a Christian, raised Catholic. I’ve come to believe that no one flavor of Christianity is superior to another. And I don’t believe Christianity is superior to Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism or even the non-religious sects (i.e. atheist or agnostics). Rather, I believe that people should be true to their own personal beliefs … accountable to their God and the person they stare at in the mirror. When couples and friends share a similar belief system, whatever it may be, they have a common way of relating and communicating with each other when life challenges them with crisis or other important decisions.
What priority do you place on your family and friendships? People do place different values on how to relate with families and friends. There are many degrees with which a person can include or exclude family from one’s life. I believe that two people who share a similar approach to this will find more common ground than those with contrasting views.
Do you remember the scene in the movie when Forrest was eating his lunch with Lt. Dan on the shrimp boat? A voice comes on the intercom announcing a phone call for Forrest. As soon as the dispatcher indicates that Forrest’s Mother is sick, the devoted son forgets about his lunch and dives off the boat to be with his sick mother. Forrest clearly demonstrated how his mother was more important than his lunch or his work. Contrast this bond with the apparent lack of family, lack of friends in Lt. Dan’s life even in his darkest of days at the hospital.
I’m not judging another’s choices and priorities; they vary for many reasons, be it culture or upbringing. But I’m sure you’ve experienced the situation where someone else’s priorities in dealing with family and friends is very different than your own. Did this difference cause a rift in your relationship?
The reality of living in the 21st Century is that we must deal with money and finances. How much do you like to save? How important is having a new car every few years? Do you buy designer and brand items or are generic items satisfactory? Do you give regularly to the church or charity? If yes, how much? Is owning your own home a priority or is renting acceptable? Do you pay extra on your mortgage each month? Carry a balance on your credit cards? These are some basic questions one could ask about his or her philosophy in dealing with money and finances.
Wouldn’t it be great if you were a gazillionaire like Forrest Gump and you no longer had to worry about money? That would be good … one less thing to worry about!
But even the very wealthy have to worry about money. Where to invest? Should they start a new business? Expand a current business? Where to send kids to college?
The point is finances and money are an important reality of living. The number one reason people divorce is money; it seems a pretty good idea to be certain that both parties share the same values in this area when they begin their life together.
What types of foods do you typically eat? Salads and vegetables or fast-food? Do you exercise daily, a few times a week or never? Do you prefer active outdoor activities such as biking and hiking or are you one who prefers more sedentary activities? Once more, I’m not promoting one lifestyle or preference over another; rather, friends and partners who share like-minded predilections towards fitness, diet & health are more compatible and likely to relate to each other easily.
Forrest Gump lived a healthy lifestyle from what we observed in the movie. He seemed to eat healthy foods and kept himself trim and in good physical condition. He enjoyed being active as evidenced by his willingness to mow the lawn when he could have easily paid someone else to do it. His Run Across America was obviously an extreme example of a preference for physical activity.
To conclude, I’ll readily acknowledge that you and I know specific examples of people who are opposites on one or more of these core values and still the relationship works. And in our friendships, it’s often the case that one or two of these core values are polar opposites and yet the friendship continues because we choose to overlook, accept, or even enjoy with amusement the differences.
There is no right or wrong amongst one’s personal choices and preferences within their core values. But our relationships and friendships seem to work better when there is agreement on at least the majority of them.
Are you clear on your own core values? Do you know the difference between the things that you’re willing to compromise and the things you’re not willing to compromise? Do you think maybe the reason Forrest Gump was so content was that he understood his own core values and lived life in harmony with them?
Next Blog Title: Living A Life with Core Value Conflict
Next Blog Date: September 13, 2010