What is most important for you to live by? If you had to create a mission statement for yourself, what would it entail?
I'm trying to sort out what I feel is most important to me in the way that I am living my life. Here's a first attempt:
Live compassionately, with a heart and spirit full of love.
Don't intentionally make choices or do things that I know will cause harm to others. It is unavoidable that I will at times make mistakes. Sometimes they will be huge mistakes. But it is imperative that I learn from my mistakes, and take responsibility for them, and use them to inform myself. It is all the more important that I examine what has happened and take responsibility for whatever I have done if it has caused harm to others.
Forgive myself when I fall short. This doesn't mean ignore - still learn from my shortfalls, and do better by myself the next time around - but, at the same time, don't continually beat myself up and punish myself long after the fact for something that is said and done.
Value connections. Life is passing by, faster and faster every day. "All we are is dust in the wind," and moments for reaching out, loving the people who are dear to me, creating moments of joy and happiness are not as endless and infinite as I'd like to think they are. And yet those moments - far and few between and undervalued as they have been in the moment so many times in my life - those connections are what has mattered to me most in my life so far. It's so easy to get caught up in little things, in routines, in work, in various pursuits and to let connections fall to the wayside - to never get around to sending the letter I've been thinking about for days, or weeks, or oftentimes even years - to never just figuring out a way to find the money and the time and actually plan a visit to someone who is far away - to not reaching out and planning a time to be together with friends and play games or have dinner or share whatever interests we have in common - so, so easy to just let those things slip day after day, week after week, month after month. But I want to do better, and I want to slip less.
Be genuine and authentic, with others and especially with myself. I don't want to spend my life trying to be something other than what I am. I don't want to tell myself stories and fictions about my life to comfort myself or to try and make things feel nicer, or easier, or whyever it is that we tell ourselves such fictions. I want to see and witness and embrace myself and my life in all its glory and in all its grittiness, the big and the small, the things that make me proud and the things that make me cringe, and to live and to value the full spectrum of experience. Sadness is a vital part of the human experience. Shame is part of the human condition as much as is pride or joy or euphoria. Inspiration, gratitude, happiness, frustration, anger, fear - so many colors, so many facets of experience, and each one is valuable and precious. While it's easy to resort to lying to myself in an attempt to protect myself from some perceived negative experience or feeling or to ease a fear, when I do so I am limiting my own experience of my own life.
Back to being authentic and genuine with others - connections matter. If I am presenting a fiction of myself to someone else, even if I think it is what they want to see, I am not really connecting. I'm passing up an opportunity for real connection. Along similar lines, I don't want to box myself in or constrain myself in my relationships out of fear. Sometimes something about me will push someone away. That's okay. For all the times that I am true to myself and as authentic as I can be, and it creates deeper understanding or connection, it's worth the times that being authentic pushes someone away. And really, if being as true to who I am is going to push someone away, than in that case I don't think we were ever really connecting in the first place. It was a fiction. Fictions are great to read, to enjoy, to consume, but they aren't what I want to be living.
Live passionately. Seize the day! Find things that interest me and apply myself to them. Find people that are interesting, amazing, people who inspire me, people challenge me, and create connection with them. I am a master of putting things off that I mean to do, or I'd like to do, but I'd like to put things off a bit less. More doing, less intending, less putting off.
These are things I am working on every day in my life. It's a work in progress, and some days I do better than others, but looking over my life - when I've done a better job of living by these ideas, I've felt more alive. And I've created more moments which were precious both then and now in retrospect.