Feb 6, 2024
5 mins read
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5 mins read

6 Old-Fashioned Values to Rediscover

6 Old-Fashioned Values to Rediscover

(UfaBizPhoto/Shutterstock)

By Mike Donghia

A lot has changed in America (and the world) in the past 75 years.

During that span, three new generations of people have been born, and with them, a whole new set of values have spread through our society.

If you’re the pessimistic type, there’s plenty to be critical about, as many old-fashioned values have fallen out of favor. But for those who are optimistic—and know where to look—there’s just as much to be excited about. People everywhere are still doing the things that humans do best—laughing, playing, innovating, and connecting with one another.
 

And best of all, what’s lost for a while, doesn’t have to be lost forever.

Even if the broader society devalues a particular view of the world, it doesn’t mean you can’t revive that value in your own family or the community you live in. Create your own little bubble of old-fashioned values and be a living example of thriving in the modern world, by combining the best of what’s new with the timeless wisdom of previous generations.

1. Community involvement. Back before the world was such a global and connected place, human relationships were centered around communities—the places where people lived, worked, worshiped, and enjoyed entertainment. Communities foster a sense of belonging and are a real source of support that is being lost in our increasingly individualistic world.

To revive this value,  join more community groups and participate in the local happenings of your city or town. Of course, this will never be as convenient as watching your favorite show on Netflix, but it does offer the prospect of a deeper sense of purpose and connection with others.

2. Know your neighbors. People used to depend on neighbors like an extended part of their own families. But with increased wealth and more screen-based hobbies, these relationships have been on a long, slow decline— with many not knowing their neighbor’s names and even fewer holding conversations.

I can’t claim to be great at this myself, but I have several amazing neighbors who have warmly injected themselves into our lives by making friendly small talk, offering to help with outside jobs, loaning tools, and generally keeping an eye out for ways to connect. They are my personal role models in reviving this important value.

3. Respect for elders. Another change I’ve observed in society is a growing lack of appreciation for the older people who live among us. It’s likely this effect has grown stronger alongside the general rise (and worship) of young music stars, athletes, and online influencers. If entertainment and trending memes are so valued, then the slower, gentler wisdom and humor of older adults is pushed aside.

How do we push back against this unfortunate trend? It won’t happen by accident, that’s for sure. We need to intentionally make time and space for those who are older to shape us and leave their influence on us as they did long ago. While they may not be interested in all the latest and greatest trends, their experiences and unique perspectives hold important lessons and interesting memories to enjoy.

4. Face-to-face conversations. Communication methods have changed over the course of time, but one thing has remained true—our deepest, most intimate connections with humans occur face-to-face. And I can’t be convinced that anything will ever replace that!

Is it any wonder that emotional health in younger generations is strained, when they have displaced human voice and laughter for endless scrolling on a phone? The evidence, as seen in a 2023 article in the Cureus Journal of Medical Science, is mounting, and it’s time to rediscover the now old-fashioned value of meeting up with friends, lingering over meals, and spending screen-free time with one another.

5. Manual skills and resourcefulness. The natural result of increased wealth is further specialization and fewer DIY [do-it-yourself] efforts. Nowadays, many people don’t work on their own cars, mow their own lawns, or have the need to fix anything on their own. In some ways, this is a positive trend, as it frees up our time to higher-value activities and more creative work. But what if all we’ve done is replace that time with more entertainment?

It’s certainly not bad to enjoy downtime, and my message is not one of austerity. However, there are benefits to learning how to do things on your own and developing a resourceful spirit. Even picking up one or two practical skills could be enough to strengthen your self-esteem and make you a more useful member of your family and community.

6. Natural physical activity. Just a few generations ago, it would have seemed silly to exercise in any intentional way. That’s because moving your body was part of life, and few people would have spent their entire days and evenings in a seated posture, as is common today.

Instead of going to the gym, I would love to see more people revive the art of natural and playful movement in their lives. This could mean a renaissance of anything from gardening to walking into town or even playing on a recreational sports team. It’s time to get off our screens and remember that we’re embodied creatures who thrive in a physical world.


 

I hope my list inspires you to reflect and see what changes you can begin making today.