Lenny Ravich
Do Our Values Influence Our Choices?

Do Our Values Influence Our Choices?

January 8, 2023

Hi Everyone. I’m Lenny Ravich, Humorous Motivational speaker in London and Hong Kong, and the author of the bestselling book, “Everlasting Optimism.”

At 86 I have started a new diet called “Intermittent Fasting”. I don’t really know what to expect but I feel lighter. My wife of 57 years thinks that’s a good sign. I agree with her. The years have taught me that she is perfect. Ergo: I approve of everything she says and does.

The Human Connection

I traveled to Istanbul a few years ago and was witness to a very touching sight. Along the beaches were fishermen who threw their catches from the net immediately onto the fire, and when they were cooked, stuck them into a piece of bread and added onion to perfect a kind of sandwich. These crammed bits were sold at an extremely meager price. I bought one even though I wasn’t the least bit hungry, but I figured I was saving money. That’s what growing up in a dysfunctional family will do to you.

I watched as a mother of six purchased these victuals and handed one to each child as they sat in a ring-type formation on the ground and ate together.  They appeared not to have much money, but they had intimacy. They looked quite affectionate and content with each other. I couldn’t help thinking how many of us in the west, with all our affluence and comfort, would worship having something resembling this scene of human closeness?

Values and Decisions

I met Gail at college and we fell in love at first sight in the year 1957. We became very good friends and in 1959 decided we would get married the following year. I was 22 years old and she was 20.

As time went on, I realized that what had kept us together, after the initial attraction, were our mutual interests. We both studied and loved theater, music and dance.  But I eventually understood that those benefits wouldn’t be the shared significance that would glue our lives together. If we were to flourish and grow as a unit we had to have similar values. Her emphasis and meaning in life was her career, and while livelihood was important to me, it never took preference over family. Sadly, Gail and I parted. I believe it was the healthiest choice we could have made.

After more than forty years, I met her at a National Speakers Association Conference in the USA. The first thing she shared with me, with much enthusiasm was that she had married and how much she is succeeding in her profession, how riches and fortune are flowing to her and that she had bought several homes and yachts, (both yachts don’t work) and that life is just one continual smile.

I asked her how her husband was and she said, “Very ill.” I inquired as to what “dis-ease” he had and her answer was, “What is he not sick with? You name it, he has it.”

“Do you have children?” I inquired “My son committed suicide three years ago. My divorced daughter dumped her little baby on me and left town. But other than that, life is sunshine and roses,” she giggled. I inquired, “If your husband is so ill, why aren’t you by his side? He surely needs you.” Her concise answer was, “I’m not there, because I’m here.” I thought that the correct statement should have been, “I’m here, because I’m not all there.”

I believe that her husband, without ever having met him, is suffering from loneliness. Gail, even though she told me that she spends two hours a day working out at the spa, didn’t look vigorous. She had had two breasts removed, and was up and back at her desk in less than a week after her operation.

I realized that I never could have committed my life to my profession without having the love of a caring and supportive family and friends. I do not criticize or judge people like Gail. It’s just that her values and choices were not mine.

Life Choices

At some weddings the bride and groom vow, “Till death do us part.” This pledge was relevant about a hundred years or so ago when the standard marriage would last about seven years. It would end, frequently with the death of the wife in childbirth. The typical male would have married two or three times as another partner bit the dust. Today, with modern medicine this surely is not always the case. We make the same vows and live together a lot longer. I’m not complaining. I’m just observing, right?

My life decisions, now that I look back on them, were sub-consciously made regarding the love, joy, good health, family and potent relationships I would garner, while still making a living. I asked my wife if she loved me more than she loves money. She chided me for asking such a stupid question. I told her I was serious. She finally screwed up her face and answered, “I love you more than I love money, ok?” What bothers me is that I had to ask her three times while she pondered the question. Oh, well.

As a humorous, inspirational keynote speaker in London and Hong Kong, I ask my audiences: “What are your chief values? How do those values influence your choices?”

What would be your answer?

I would love to hear from you.


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