power in words and pictures

What's Important?

What’s Important?

“Make room for the real important stuff.”
—Tigger”

Helping my mother move this week, my thought process hasn’t been what it normally might be. The question of the importance of the people and things in our lives seems paramount to talk about with you over anything else. What is it that occupies your time? What have you decided is most important? Maybe it’s your job — young and ambitious, you sacrifice what might be most meaningful in your life in order to accomplish something that you think will make a big difference in the long run. Maybe it’s your activities — there is nothing like being involved in lots of activities to sacrifice what really matters in order to make you feel you matter to people. Whatever it is that is occupying your time, this seems the perfect time to ask you to reconsider. This is the time to ask you to think like Tigger and make room for the real important stuff.

What is the real important stuff to which Tigger refers? It depends on the situation.

  1. If your home is overflowing with ‘stuff’, you probably need to look at the material possessions in your home and life and decide what is the real important stuff (because we all know that given a chance, we can find a reason to keep most everything).
  2. If your schedule is overflowing with ‘stuff’, you probably need to look at the events on your calendar and decide what events are real important (because we all know that given a chance, we can justify the importance of any number of activities that sound important but really aren’t adding value to our lives).
  3. If your friends’ list is overflowing with people who are more ‘stuff’ than substance, you probably need to look at not just the events on the calendar, but the people you’ve deemed important enough to take up the moments in your life (because we all know that given a chance, we can explain away the reasons the mean girl or guy who always needs our valuable help is worth dropping everything for, when we know that if we don’t show up they’ll just find someone else).

Over the past several years, I have made what some folks might consider to be sacrifices, but it’s just a matter of how life is and how I’ve needed to respond. I’ve learned from watching other people, though, that it isn’t always the case. Not everyone is willing to make sacrifices. Some people aren’t even able to see that they might need to venture from their way of doing things, and that seems to be why we really need to hear Tigger’s words.

Having missed weddings and other events, I have been where I thought I should be — with a relative or with a friend, and not attending whatever wonderful event was on the calendar. People are real important stuff.

Having wanted more space in my home to be able to breathe, I’ve stopped shopping for things to clutter my home and have begun giving away many items already here. Treasured items are real important stuff.

Having wanted to feel better about both physically and mentally, I’ve signed up for fewer meaningful volunteer positions, taken fewer non-paying (and sometimes paying) jobs, and have tried to share opportunities for helping with the rest of the people in the community and world. My health is real important stuff.

Well-meaning people can convince us that their charity is the one to which we should donate our time and our money, even though we really don’t have extra of either. Great marketing people can convince us that their shiny objects and expensive goods will make our lives more wonderful and more impressive to others, even though those purchases will take away from saving for a new car or couch or just paying the utility bill. Friends and family often demand that we make time for their special or annual event, leaving feelings of guilt when we are just too tired to head out the door.

I want to be like Tigger and recognize how much room is in my life, on my calendar, and in a day. I want to stop making time for the not so important stuff at the expense of the real important stuff. I can’t decide what the most important stuff is in your life, but I can suggest this:

Experiences matter (more than things).  Traveling down the road or around the world is enriching through what we see, the people we meet, and the history we might learn.

People matter (some more than others at different times) Sometimes we need to give of ourselves to people who don’t even know how to appreciate it because life isn’t always just about us. Other times, we need to be available for the people who connect to our heart (sometimes friends and sometimes family) instead of the people who just need us to do for them. After all, they’ll find another sucker on the next corner who believes important people matter more than real people.

You matter. It’s not about indulging your every desire or being selfish but about valuing your own health and happiness as much as you are asked to value so many other people’s needs. “No” is a complete sentence when it comes to protecting yourself from the people who want you to chair their event, work on their committee, or purchase their spectacular goods. You (your health, your time, your finances) matter.

This week, be like Tigger. Look at your calendar and at your home. Make space for real important stuff, not the stuff someone else thinks you should value.

 

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