Living Second-Hand

How do you know when something is good? The answer may not be as simple as it seems, so let’s talk about it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a work of art, a movie, a restaurant or a new direction for the workplace – how do you decide that something is “good”?

Many people decide what is good by listening to so-called experts. They will praise a painting they care nothing about because it is hanging in a museum, or the artist’s work was favorably reviewed by a fashionable art critic. They will rave about a new restaurant because it is trendy and they will go to see movies that have received good reviews or their friends have enjoyed.

Often people’s personal behavior is based on second-hand values too. They observe certain conventions of manners and they follow certain rules because some authority figure told them to do it, but they never looked further. Positive or negative, because no personal research was done, these folks are now stuck with beliefs that deny the potential fullness of their own life.

You see, living a life based on second-hand values is not living your own life at all. To really live, you want to trust your own instincts and take the risk of stepping away from “normal” now and then. You owe it to yourself. At the same time, you might want to question your values to understand how you got them and whether they are based on what someone else believes or on your own standards. In other words, take accountability for your own experiences – it is your life, after all.

When you like something, think about the reasons why. When you dislike something, do the same, without making a value judgment. Then, instead of saying something is “good,” say that you like it, and explain why. This elevates your sense of self, increases your communication skills, and raises the respect of those around you.