Character

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“Try not to be a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value” – Albert Einstein

For centuries, in almost every cultures of the world, character used to be considered the most valued thing an individual can possess. Today, it is relegated at the bottom of our priority list because we give more importance to technology and consumerism rather than to the goodness and delight of our own humaneness.

Another thing that greatly contributed to the recession of character is its unfortunate association with ‘morality’. Most people today are loosing faith in morality because of the way we, as a society, have betrayed our values and the principles we defined in our constitutions and rule books. For most people today, morality is akin to hypocrisy and character – the ability to trust values and behave morally – has lost its … value. Lucky for us, authentic goodness character doesn’t need the support of morality. It can be developed without it. It is something personal; something you find in your heart; something that, ultimately, you want to live by because you know it is the only way to be who you truly want to be. When you have seen with your own eyes how sincerity or empathy for example allow you to find real and lasting solutions and get where you want to be, what else can you do than behaving with sincerity or empathy?

What we call ‘character’ is the moral fiber of an individual: the texture, strength and properties of the wood that makes the tree of their life; it is the force that animates their mind, empowers their words and guarantees that their actions yield the results they aspire to; it is the sap that flows through their veins; the warmth, the ‘fragrance’ and the charisma that emanate from them; in the field of relationships, it is the binding power that wins the loyalty of the people they live with.

At a pragmatic level, your character is made of your habits – habits of behaviour, of thinking, feeling and wanting. Your habits are an expression in your beliefs and those beliefs are a reflection of how you use your intelligence to understand reality: do you raise questions, inquire and seek meaning or are you happy repeating what you have been told without really thinking about it?

At the bottom line, what we really call character is an awareness of your real self: a recognition of who you are coupled to a commitment to express that in the most explicit, complete and beneficial way. It is your nature, cultivated and tended to which produces genuinely valuable and abundant fruit. Self-awareness is the real foundation of your life because the way in which you experience yourself determines the way in which you see things, the possibilities you envision and the choices you make – who sees himself as brave dares; who believes himself as weak shrinks. The way you see yourself determines your behaviour.

We said it and will probably say it a few more times because it is one of those basic truths of life: the goodness of your character is your best – and only? – guarantee for a good life. Most people think they know how to live, think or love simply because they have done it spontaneously since they were born although their life is plagued with chronic problems. Yet they do not make the link between the difficulties they experience and the way they behave, talk or think. It is an art to live and all arts develop on the basis of passion, practice and an unquenchable thirst for learning.

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