We are our choices. Sartre

Many years ago, a man named Gale Sayers wrote a book entitled, I am Third. Sayers’ book became popular, largely because of his fame as a professional football icon with the Chicago Bears. But the value of his writing was to be found in its title message. For Sayers, God came first; his family was second; and he ranked third.

It occurs to me that we all have such a personal “pecking order” in our lives, although we probably rarely contemplate it. While we go about our daily routine, our life’s priorities exist beneath the surface of our awareness.

My wife and I had the rare chance to entertain our two adult children and our five grandchildren along with our kids’ fine spouses this July. This experience led me to consider my life priorities, especially when I imagine some crisis that might befall any of the above individuals. In the event of some emergency, medical or otherwise, I would do anything they needed.

Is this a noble gesture in some way? I think not. I often hear references about how good parents “sacrifice” for their children or other loved ones. Frankly, I never understood this observation because I do not agree with it. People who prioritize for their loved ones are not giving up anything; they are doing what they wish to do. More accurately, those individuals are acting in accordance with their personal values. That’s no sacrifice. To do otherwise would be irrational and a personal disgrace.

So what are your values and priorities? Where do you rank? If you come first, you will find that to be a lonely and very unfulfilling place. Aside from inspiring others with his book, Gale Sayers, hopefully, felt good about his decision to share his beliefs with others. Using his athletic fame for a higher purpose enhanced his personal worth more than all of his touchdowns.

The concept of “congruence” suggests that we all should match our behaviors with our expressed values. Conversely, a lack of congruence is demonstrated when we profess one value but don’t act upon it when necessary. The giving of financial support, time, or perhaps even a kidney if needed, is a manifestation of congruence. To do so is a source of joy for those who provide such support for a loved one.

More than an accomplishment, success, or the indulgence of pleasure, I believe that experiencing congruence in our lives is the ultimate source of genuine happiness. Try it; you’ll like it and feel good about it.

Integrity is congruence between what you know, what you profess and what you do. Branden