Values and Beliefs

Consider your Values, Beliefs and Opinions

  Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster An Old Red Truckand farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals and values are in balance.
— Brian Tracy

Many students come to college with many of the same values and beliefs as their parents or best friends. These include political, religious, and even regional ways of thinking. Rarely have students examined these ideas seriously and made decisions about what is most important to them.

Now that you are in college you will probably meet people whose values, beliefs, and political opinions are very different from your own. Your college years are a wonderful time to meet these people and have serious discussions. There are two things you Should NOT do. You should NOT  change your thinking too quickly, just because someone you met was very convincing. On the other hand, you should NOT hang on to your way of thinking without considering the alternatives.

Here are the values that I stand for: honesty, equality, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated, and helping those in need. To me, these are traditional values.   — Ellen DeGeneres

The best way to begin the process is to list your current values and beliefs. Then, perhaps several times a year, take the time to look at what you wrote and decide if you feel the same way.

Consider your Religious Beliefs

You might have grown up thinking that everyone in your church or your religion believed the same things. Hopefully, as you got older, you realized that the people, even in a small religious group, can vary widely in what they really believe. Many people hesitate to admit that they no longer believe the things they were taught as a child. But while some have doubts later in life, but there are others who develop even stronger beliefs.

1. List the important religious beliefs that you believe most strongly.

2. List the religious beliefs that you are beginning to doubt or have questions about.

3. List what you once believed but don’t now.

4. Do you agree with your parents on controversial issues such as Evolution, Abortion rights, Gay rights, the rights to own and use guns, legalizing marijuana ? ….. etc?

Think about values. What is Good or Evil, Right or Wrong?

Our feelings of right and wrong also change through the years. Some things we once believed wrong, we now don’t consider a problem. Some things you didn’t consider wrong as a child you may now be firmly against.

1. List  behaviors you strongly believe are wrong.

2. List behaviors that you strongly believe everyone should do.

3.. List the behaviors that you are no longer sure about.

Consider Political Opinions

Children often hold the same political opinions as their parents. During college they often question these ideas and develop quite different opinions.

1. Describe you parents’ political thinking.

2. Describe your own political thinking now?

3. How likely do you think you are to change your opinions?

4. How do you feel your government is doing now? What do you think they should do differently?

5.  Do you believe this strongly enough to donate money to your party? to spend time working with your party?  Would you ever want to run for an office?  Why?

Are you open to learning about other beliefs and values?

While you are in college, you should listen carefully to what your professors and other students believe and why. Try to understand their values. You certainly do not want to adopt new beliefs or values just because you respect and admire the person holding them. Nor should you reject them because that’s not what you were taught to believe. You need to evaluate them for yourself.

You certainly don’t want to reject everything you believe just because you are away from your parents and no longer need to follow their rules.

The best approach is to show an interest in the beliefs, opinions and values of other people. Do NOT tell them they are wrong or evil for such beliefs. Share your own thinking, but be tolerant, recognizing that others will not feel the same way.

If a professor teaches about evolution and you don’t believe it, don’t argue. Learn what you are being taught. Discover why people believe this is true. Are their reasons convincing?  Try not to rely on a defense of your opinion by saying things like “God put all those fossils and dinosaur bones out there to test our belief.” There is no evidence at all for such an idea. People will laugh at you.  If you choose not to believe in evolution, look for scientific reasons to support your thinking.

Perhaps you grew up believe that all people who were gay or lesbian were perverts. When you discover that someone you consider a friend is gay or lesbian, do NOT run away screaming in terror… even it is your roommate.

Admit to them that you have never really known anyone who is gay but that you appreciate the fact that they trusted you enough to tell you this. Then you might ask questions. Ask when and how they discovered they were gay. You could even ask if they are happy that way or would prefer to be straight. Listen to them and think carefully before you judge others. You will soon discover that a lot of wonderful people you have met are gay or lesbian.

The Statistics are interesting. In the 1940, a Kinsey report concluded that one person in ten is GLB (gay, lesbian or bisexual).  Several years ago another study set the number at 1.7% . A recent Gallup Poll concluded the number is about 3.5%, based on over 200,000 responses from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. People in larger cities are more likely to admit they are gay than those in small towns and rural areas. I believe the number will increase, not because more people will be born who are GLB, but because of increasing acceptance, fewer people will deny the fact, even to themselves.

When you see a mixed race couple, you might be horrified if you were taught that this was wrong. Get to know them. Ask other people how they feel about mixed race couples. You should find many different opinions. You might change your mind, and you might not, but you will understand that there are others who believe differently. Perhaps you will be able to change from saying something IS WRONG, to saying  people have the right to marry the person they love but that it still makes you feel uncomfortable. This would be a huge step forward.

Your Values, Beliefs and Opinions are Important.

It is the greatest good for an individual to discuss virtue every day … for the unexamined life is not worth living.                                                                       — Socrates

Those with strong positive values generally work harder, are more generous and understanding, and live happier lives. At the same time, Keeping an open mind, now and throughout your life is another important value. Be sure the values you believe in are the values you live by.

If you don’t stick to your values when they are being tested, they’re not values; they’re hobbies.  —  Jon Steward

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