Health and Self • October/November 2018
What Really Matters – The 7 Most Important Things in Life
Written by Natalya Bannister, Photo by Jessica Bone
Life is short and in a world of chaos, social media and divisiveness, precious things can easily become lost. Sometimes, circumstances out of our control cause loss, and sometimes our own choices cause us to lose the things that mean the most. We all have different needs and priorities in life, but we share one thing in common: the absence of certain things in life causes us to feel incomplete. While our lives and priorities may differ, there are some things vital to living a life of fulfillment… things we need to fight for… things that really matter. Never lose sight of these 7 critical things in life.
Rule #1, protect your peace. I used to become really affected by my surroundings. If my space was negative, I had to work hard not to spiral into a negative mindset. The truth is, life isn’t easy, and remaining in our quaint comfort zones doesn’t open the window for change. The more confident you grow in the love you have for yourself, the more you realize that you are strong enough to walk in a room where the tension is thick and maintain your internal peace.
When you protect your peace, you can then balance your emotions and manage relationships and stressful situations effectively. This will help you develop self-confidence and come to terms with yourself so that you can achieve inner peace and cultivate a more positive attitude towards life.
Do yourself a life-changing favor and love yourself enough to put your peace first; love yourself enough to treat yourself. This is not selfish, it is self-preservation and self-love. You don’t deserve to feel “less than.” You don’t have to measure up to the expectations others put on you. Love yourself enough to protect your peace.
So many of us take our health for granted until something life-changing happens, and our health becomes at risk. With good health, anything is possible. Without it, you cannot live life to its fullest. It is vital to take care of your mind, body and soul. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Take control of your overall health. Eat healthy and exercise daily to minimize preventable illnesses and the stress that may be keeping you from enjoying life.
Focus on your health and remember to practice self-care. Though we may be caregivers or breadwinners for others, we need to focus on our own health – and mental health. In fact, the more we can look after our own well-being, the better equipped we are to be of service to others.
Being more present, eating well and making time to decompress will enhance your mental health and overall well-being. Practice being kinder to yourself by taking time to reset mentally and prioritize all aspects of your health.
Family & Friendship
Our relationships are our foundation. They are truly the things that make our lives richer and more complete. We must prioritize time with friends, family and loved ones to foster our relationships. Being busy is normal, but why not try to be busy with the people that mean the most to us?
Having people in your life that you can call family is priceless. Knowing that you have someone who cares for you and will always be there for you is the type of support we all need, even if we don’t always admit it. But it is so easy to forget just how much family means to us. They’re the people we typically take for granted because at the end of the day, we know they will still be family. Always remember, your family is irreplaceable. You must devote time, love and energy to nurture your family relationships – not just for the sake of your family, but for yourself.
You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends and make them members of your family. If you know a person you can call your best friend, then consider yourself blessed. Make the most out of your time with your friends and, more importantly, be the best friend you can be.
The unconditional love of family is an indescribable feeling and although you may not always see eye-to-eye, respect each other’s uniqueness and do your best to show your love more often.
Purpose is our “why.” It drives our every action and fuels our passion. It encompasses our work, our relationships, and our approach to living our best lives. Our purpose wraps around everything we do in our lives. To live a fulfilling life, we must have a purpose – a goal, an outcome we want to achieve as we walk this Earth. I feel like I truly started living when I found my purpose. It’s a never-ending journey that I wake up excited about every single day. You can call it your dreams, career aspirations or your own definition of success, but if you really want to make a change in this world, you have to begin with yourself. So, dig deep to find out what you’re passionate about and how that passion can make a positive impact on those around you, then go after it with vigor for the rest of your life. It means living your life in an intentional way. Ultimately, it becomes your legacy.
Time is a limited resource; once it is spent, it’s gone forever. We cannot ever get time back, but we can be intentional with the time that we have.
We all have the same number of hours in our day, hours that are filled with responsibilities and obligations. Managing time often comes down to choices. The problem is, we say “yes” far too often. This is where we lose balance. Each time we say “yes” to something, we are saying “no” to something else. Instead of feeling in control of our schedule, we feel our time is not our own. We rush from one commitment to the next, never feeling truly present at any of them. We cram more into our days but feel we have less and less time to do the things we really want to do or to see the people we want to see. We have less space left for ourselves.
We can take control by saying “yes” to less and appreciating the blank space in our diary. We can protect our precious time, saving it for the activities and people that give our lives the most meaning and joy.
Life is a gift and it is our responsibility to get the most of out of it. It is critical that you always invest in developing your knowledge and skills. One day I think I am an expert in an area, and the next day I am faced with a challenge that teaches me otherwise. It is to our benefit to approach challenges as a learning opportunity. Discover and cultivate your talents through continuous learning and you will add great depth and meaning to your life.
I made a very conscious decision to go back to school to attain my doctorate this fall. Though very supportive, I had mentors and colleagues tell me that to achieve my career goals, going back to school was unnecessary. Though that may be true, my unwavering desire to learn has pushed me on this path. I decided that opening my mind to new concepts in education and coupling that science with my experience was too exciting to pass up. As B.B. King so eloquently stated, “The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.”
Our human worth transcends formal education and professional development, of course. It is a sum of everything we experience, accomplish, face, and overcome. The more you expand your learning, the more invaluable you become.
I have always said, we were put on this earth simply to love. Love one another, love what we do, love the Earth, and love each moment we are blessed to experience. Love is the most powerful force in the universe.
The real mark of greatness is shown through love’s actions of kindness, compassion, helpfulness and caring. Even if you don’t love your life itself, through loving things or people in your life you can still find meaning and purpose.
Learning how to love your place in the world helps create a positive, healthy attitude toward life. Through love we receive understanding, mercy, joy and forgiveness. Through love most of our emotional needs are met. Through love we feel worthy and valid. Through love we serve a higher purpose and unite in a higher calling.
The energy of love is the highest energy we can experience and acts of love raise our consciousness of the world. Our ability to approach the world with love sets an example for others to aspire to while teaching compassion, forgiveness, tolerance and peace.
Just imagine a world where every action is rooted in love. I know I do!