We live in the year 2018, where many of us feel very strongly about morals and ethics and will internet fight anyone who dare opposes them! Without turning this into a name calling, political discussion (that we unfortunately see entirely too much of), I want to bring attention to some pretty interested observations that many of us may not be aware of. When we want something (desires), it often times comes in conflict with what is right (values). Most of the time, we are unaware of this and it isn’t even on our radar. We ultimately create situations that can make us or others unhappy, by our responses to our desires. What we lack to see is that our immediate pleasure can be the result of suffering for someone or something else.
Life just seems like a balancing act in all areas. I can’t seem to think of a situation where we can give in one area without taking away from another. For example, let us explore our desire for cheaper consumer goods. I think it is safe to say that many of us do not agree with cheap overseas labor. It is pretty heartbreaking to know that people from other places may be suffering so we can consume cheaper goods. However, how many of us actually buy only American made products? That iPhone would be pretty damn expensive if it were made in the U.S. Another common example is the food industry. It is no secret how badly animals are treated for our consumption. But very rarely does that change our eating and buying habits. Hunting is probably not in our wheelhouse and paying triple the amount for something more ethically killed are some big conflicts for us.
These were just super basic and perhaps over-simplified economic examples, but the same conclusions can be drawn from everyday things. In the gym we can hear things like, “we should have a should have a 4am class! Why are we closed on this holiday?! We need new (insert upgrade)!” Perhaps some of us are seeing the picture I am trying to paint. What you may desire comes off of the sacrifice of someone or something else. The questions to ponder are at which point do our desires become unfair? Or selfish? Or just flat out immoral? I think as long as we create an awareness of how our desires affect other outcomes, then things can be “okay” for the most part.
Creating an awareness of our desires v our values may not always give us a solid answer, but it will give us a clearer answer. That answer is going to be different from person to person and will look more like a spectrum. Something I like to do when I am presented with a desire that challenges my values or really any difficult decision, is to refer back to my top 10 values. At NorthEast CrossFit, we actually have our 10 top values in our employee handbook (believe it or not, we are kind of a real business!). This has served as a great guide in a lot of our difficult decisions. For homework, write down 10 of your top values and what they mean to you. Think about them in your next argument, debate, demand or difficult decision. You may surprise yourself at some of the answers you will have concluded.