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Four Ideals

Across different belief systems are ideal qualities that each person should exhibit. These ideal qualities are about how we all behave, like speaking truthfully or obeying the law. There can be stories that help illustrate what it means to exhibit each quality. These stories provide the examples that help us understand what it means to behave in an ideal way.

I’ve pulled out four particular quality pairs. These are more broad and represent the complex core of ideals that I think are important to maintaining the best life experience for all. I chose them based on my observations about relationships and what may be required of us in different moments in life. They all become part of how we manage our overall relationship with life.

Humility and patience

One of the four qualities is humility and patience. Humility just means that you are able to recognize the role others play or that your environment plays in your ability to succeed. You may still have to do some work, and you contribute to that success. However, other people may provide assistance in some way or the circumstances that are out of your control must be right for you to succeed. Patience goes with this. It goes one step further to realize that while we may see how things could be better in a practical, livable way, we must sometimes wait for other people or for the overall environment to change.

This quality pair is great to consider when we look at politics. In our country, we must all talk to one another and have patience as well as humility when seeking a peaceful solution to our problems. We also need a greater perspective on our problems that can only come from humility and understanding that it provides.

This quality pair isn’t just about politics but also about collaboration at work, getting help in general, listening and forgiveness. We can’t really succeed at times without being open to others, listening with respect to what others say is important to them, guiding the conversation and suggestion process with patience and remembering that no matter what we think is best, others may have a different view that needs our supportive attention.

Courage and strength

Another of the four qualities is courage and strength. This is somewhat the opposite of humility and patience, but not really. It is the energy behind maintaining our own voice when we know something needs resolution, being willing to stand alone when it seems others are against what we think or feel, and maintaining our own boundaries when others may threaten them and try to violate us in some way.

This quality pair can be illustrated through adventure. When we strike out on our own (or even with others), we have courage to leave what is safe and secure to risk new problems on an unfamiliar journey. We have to keep our wits about us and maintain ourselves as well as be willing to try new things that we encounter as the journey may end if we don’t even try. Adventure can be a way of developing such courage and strength when we feel we may not have any at all.

In addition to adventure, courage and strength can come through creative expression that risks criticism, honesty (for the same risk of criticism) and just overall disagreement. When we shine our individual light, sometimes people react poorly to it. We may just need to tone it down and “know our own strength”, but other times we may need to keep our voice (or expression) strong. Others may simply be in bad habits or feeling sensitive about something that needs attention, and they will do nothing if we don’t speak up.

Discipline and commitment

Another of the four qualities is discipline and commitment. Some may think of this as loyalty. Some may think of this as obsession. Discipline and commitment are about making sure you see things through or stick to things that may not reach their full potential without working through some challenges. It is a kind of courage and strength, but different. Courage and strength help you break things up and make changes. Discipline and commitment help you sustain your efforts and face the problems that show up along the way.

This quality pair can be seen in many of our personal habits, such as diet and exercise. We often feel the pull of bad foods and the loss of momentum when we try to change how we eat and change our activity level. It isn’t easy, by any measure. I think many people who are able to change do so, because something about how they are motivated changes. However, if you don’t have that motivation, you need to come back to the problem and keep trying different approaches. Perhaps the reason for making a change should be different to help keep your motivation strong. Perhaps the method for making a change should be different to more accurately reflect where you are and what it will take to get to something more ideal. Whatever the change, these kinds of habits are where discipline and commitment are key.

Care and wisdom

The last of the four qualities is care and wisdom. This is a more active form of humility and patience and a nice balance to discipline and commitment that typically focuses on personal achievement. Care and wisdom are about attending to expectations and helping others with their own struggles. We may expect too much from life or even the wrong things in life. It is important that we take care in what we think life can offer us and make sure we don’t create problems in order to solve what problems we have. We should also consider taking time out to help others, whether that is family, friends, neighbors or strangers. This can help us develop better humility and patience, especially if while we help we take time to understand the other person’s needs and experience of the world.

This quality pair can be experienced through volunteering. If you don’t already have friends and family that need your help to get things done, then you can volunteer at community organizations that seek to help people in need. Volunteering is the experience of doing work to benefit someone else without pay or similar gifts in return. Sometimes, there are gifts, such as if you help someone move and they buy lunch for everyone. However, you don’t help them because of the gifts. You help them because you care about making life easier for them. Perhaps also you think about how life is easier when people help each other, including when others can help you. You may volunteer out of a sense of obligation this way, but care can be a better experience if you do it simply to be thoughtful toward others.

Care and wisdom can include other forms of giving and of course how you behave toward others more generally, such as through praise, gifts, practicing what you preach and simple social courtesy that may seem mere habit but can have helpful social returns. It’s important to think about others and the wisdom in keeping our own needs in balance with the world around us, both with people and with other living parts of our environment. Only through care and the wisdom gained through thoughtful actions can we maintain stronger connection to our world.