The Institute For Living

Question of the Week

Question of the Week – Self Worth

by on Dec.08, 2009, under Question of the Week, Spirituality

We live in a materialistic society, where we often confuse a person’s net worth in the human sense with his or her net worth in the financial sense.  We therefore feel a never-satisfied drive always to gather more goods, a better job title and more friends, thinking that such possessions will increase our overall value.  Ultimately, this way of thinking makes our feelings of self worth dependent upon forces that we do not control, and when the inevitable tough times in life arrive, we are shaken to the core.

The alternate way of thinking is to evaluate self worth based upon the living of trascendent values, such as love, peace or humility.  This way of life sometimes lacks the comfortable trappings of material wealth, but it does not depend upon those same trappings to sustain itself.  Each person’s value is determined only by his or her own deeds.

To what extent do you determine your self worth in terms of material goods, social status or interpersonal relationships?  How has your sense of worth been affected by uncontrollable events or the behaviors of others?  To what extent do you base your self worth upon the values you live?  What values best indicate your true worth?

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Question of the Week – Loneliness

by on Dec.04, 2009, under Question of the Week, Relationships

We humans have a fundamental need to belong; we need to feel emotionally connected to others.  When we do not experience enough human contact in our lives, we feel lonely.  Loneliness is especially common following the death of a loved one or the ending of a relationship, or when a person spends much of his or her time at home.  Loneliness may be spiritually enlightening, but it could also lead to a self-perpetuating cycle of depression.  That is why it is essential for those who do feel loved to seek out and extend a hand to those who are becoming disconnected.  A little bit of human kindness and compassion may prevent a great deal of anguish.

What elements in your life distract you from noticing those with social needs?  When you do notice someone who might be lonely, what fears cause you to hesitate in engaging him or her?  How valid are those fears?  When you begin to feel lonely, does receiving a phone call, a visit from a friend or a pleasant conversation make a difference?  Who do you know right now who could use some extra support?

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Question of the Week – Family

by on Nov.13, 2009, under Question of the Week, Relationships

Our eighth Question of the Week is on the topic of family.  Fee free to discuss other aspects of the topic that you feel are relevant.

Over the past 50 years, the structures of American families have changed profoundly.  Relocating for jobs has spread families over large areas, diminishing the presence and influence of extended families.  Higher divorce rates and lower worker incomes (when adjusted for inflation) have pressured all adults to enter the workforce.  Some people have responded to these changes by demonstrating their love for their families through spending money rather than time on their families.  These families live in large houses, have many things and activities in their lives, but they have relatively little personal interaction.  Other people have chosen to stay at home to provide personal care and to teach personal values, but they may have had to accept social scorn and a lower financial standard of living as a result.  A third group of people strive for some sort of middle ground through part time or work-from-home employment.

How do you determine how much of your time is spent maintaining and growing your family’s income, and how much time is used as “face time” with your family?  What do your choices teach children about your values?

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Question of the Week – Justice

by on Nov.06, 2009, under Question of the Week, Relationships

Our seventh Question of the Week is on the topic of justice.  Feel free to discuss other aspects of the issue that you feel are relevant.

In our society, whenever someone suffers pain or loss, there is the belief that whoever caused that loss should pay money as restitution.  This is the basis for all civil law.  In actual practice, this principle has come to mean that a doctor can be sued any time that a medical procedure fails.  It means that a business is liable for practices from 50 years ago that were considered safe at the time, but are now considered unsafe.  It means a homeowner must pay for the injuries of a burglar falling down the stairs.

How does exerting power over another person through the courts address our need for justice?  To what extent should people be punished for unanticipated consequences of their decisions?  What does this way of thinking say about our society’s values concerning money, compassion, responsibility and forgiveness?  If you have been involved in this kind of dispute, what emotions did the process nurture within you?  Did the legal process lead to reconciliation between you and the other party?

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Question of the Week – Sexuality

by on Oct.23, 2009, under Question of the Week, Relationships

Our sixth Question of the Week is on the topic of sexuality.  Feel free to discuss other aspects of the issue that you feel are relevant.

We live in a society in which 22% of 60-year-olds admit to having had affairs, 18% of 26-year-olds admit to having been attracted to their own gender, and 95% of all adults engage in sex before marriage.  Despite these realities, the only form of sexual relationship that our society publicly condones is between husband and wife.  Why is heterosexual sex within marriage the only model that is “acceptable”?  Why is there such a difference between our society’s official stance on sexuality and what so many of us actually do in our personal lives?  How have feelings of sex-related scorn, guilt and shame affected you and your family?

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Question of the Week – Spirituality

by on Oct.16, 2009, under Question of the Week, Spirituality

Our fifth Question of the Week is on the topic of spirituality.  Feel free to discuss other aspects of the issue that you feel are relevant.

For many people, “religion” has come to mean something contaminated by power groups, while “spirituality” is personal and free flowing.  Other people find that their religion and spirituality mutually support one another.  In your life, do religion and spirituality work together or conflict?  In what ways does a focus on spirituality challenge the status quo?  What are you doing to grow in these areas?

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Question of the Week – Society

by on Oct.05, 2009, under Question of the Week, Relationships

Our fourth Question of the Week deals with society.  Feel free to discuss other aspects of the issue that you feel are relevant, but are not mentioned here. 

In theory, we claim to desire a society that is blind to such personal characteristics as race, religion, gender and the like.  In reality, each of us uses these labels constantly to categorize ourselves and the people around us.  How have you personally used these distinctions this week to classify yourself or others?  How did this both benefit and restrict you?

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Question of the Week – Economics

by on Sep.24, 2009, under Politics/Economics, Question of the Week

Our third Question of the Week deals with economics.  As always, feel free to discuss other aspects of the issue that you feel are relevant, but are not mentioned here.

An economic system, by its nature, encourages and rewards some types of behaviors while discouraging others.  In so doing, it shapes the values of the people living within that system.  What values are rewarded by our current economic system, and are they consistent with what we claim to be our highest ideals?

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Question of the Week – Health Care

by on Sep.08, 2009, under Politics/Economics, Question of the Week

Our second Question of the Week deals with health care. As before, feel free to discuss other aspects of the issue that you feel are relevant, but are not mentioned here.

The U.S. health care model is based upon treatment, with relatively little emphasis placed upon prevention. How do we encourage both health care professionals and the general public to take prevention more seriously? How do we provide the public with the tools and information they need to intelligently engage in preventing illness?

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Question of the Week – Education

by on Aug.31, 2009, under Question of the Week, Relationships

The challenges facing our times are rooted in fundamental questions that we as a society have largely ignored because the questions make us uncomfortable.  We at the Institute for Living believe that it is in embracing these types of questions, and the discomfort that they evoke, that solutions to our problems will ultimately be found.

Every week, we will present one of these questions on our website, and we invite you to join in the discussion by leaving a comment or two.

Our first question deals with education.  Feel free to discuss other aspects of the issue that you feel are relevant, even if they are not mentioned here.

What skills, behaviors and attributes should high school graduates demonstrate?

This is a core issue for any discussion on education.  Graduates are the successful end result of the educational process, and the characteristics they demonstrate determine whether an educational system is, in fact, working.  So from your perspective, whether you are an employer, a parent, a student or simply a member of the public, what should people be able to do, say or think by the time they graduate from high school?

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