If you had to boil down the most important things that matter in life, what would they be?
Would you include material wealth, like money, a nice house, or a high-paying job? Would you opt for traits like power, influence, and strength?
When I decided to write down the five things that matter the most for me in life, I wanted to really make them count. I wanted those five things to be things that I truly couldn’t (or wouldn’t want to) live without.
In a way, I’m lucky because I went through a near death experience that forced me to focus on the important things. When you’re on your deathbed and you seriously don’t think you’re going to make it, things become a lot clearer. The things you think are important in daily life fall away from your consciousness and cease to be of concern.
You can think of my list of five most important things as an ice cream sundae. The most essential items (the scoops of ice cream) at the bottom, the important ingredients in the middle (like chocolate syrup, strawberries, and nuts), and the oh so sweet and wonderful items at the top (whipped cream and a cherry).
The Base (Scoops of Ice Cream)
1- Health: This includes your physical, mental, and emotional health. Nothing else in life really matters if you don’t have your health. That’s why this is your base. You can lose some of your health, but if you lose it all, you’re dead.
For your physical health, find a few exercises you enjoy doing. For me, it's weightlifting, swimming, and yoga. And to keep your mind healthy, learn some simple meditation techniques. It'll keep you sharp and focused.
The Middle (Chocolate Syrup, Strawberries, & Nuts)
2- Freedom: To do what you want, when you want (as long as you’re not committing crimes or hurting others). If you don’t have freedom, you don’t have much of a life to live.
The thing I like best about early retirement is the freedom it gives me - the freedom to do what makes me feel fulfilled, challenged, and content.
3- Relationships: When I almost died of pneumonia in 2009, one of my revelations was just how important other people are in life. If you were trapped on a desert island alone, life would become pretty pointless and meaningless after awhile.
Don't take your relationships for granted - tell your spouse, kids, and parents how much you love them (and more important - show them!).
The Top (Whipped Cream & Cherry)
4- Acceptance: Accepting yourself for who you are, and accepting others for who they are — whether that’s race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, status in life, etc.
Also, accepting things you cannot change (i.e. the weather, acts of God, laws of physics & nature). It's like that old adage - "Give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
5- Love: Having the ability to care deeply about yourself, others, and the planet you live on. This is the pinnacle at the top of the life sundae — it gives your life meaning. Love is like an energy source that feeds you and those around you.
I purposely did not include Money and Jobs, even though I run a financial website. I feel money and jobs are important, but they don’t make my top 5 most important things in life. When I was on my deathbed with pneumonia, money and jobs were the last thing on my mind!
So what else? Well, here are just a few other important things that could be in my top 10: Gratitude (for everything you have in life), Patience (with yourself & others), Empathy (understanding why others do what they do), Fortitude (the ability to shake off the bad things in life), and Passion (having desire to do what you love).
What would be on your list of the top five most important things in life? Don’t wait until you’re on your deathbed to figure out what’s important in your life. Figure it out now and live your life with purpose and meaning each and every day!