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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

What Matters Most

Updated: May 8, 2023

hands holding a candle

Why is it when life is rolling along “smoothly” we often fail to notice what matters most?

Then, some type of crisis befalls us – a health scare, a natural disaster, a job change, the death of a loved one – and what is most important seems clearer. Priorities come into focus.

When our world turns upside down, what matters most?

Stop for a moment… How would you answer that question?

Probably not acquiring more possessions or getting our next promotion. And yet, how often are we focused on those measures of success?

This week I have been reminded of the importance of prioritizing people, and recognizing that what matters most in life are things like friends, family, and faith.

It’s ironic that at the season of the year set aside to celebrate those things we all too often focus more on how stressed we are buying and doing what doesn’t really matter.

Nana taught us what matters most.

My sweet 88-year-old mother-in-law fell last weekend and fractured five ribs and her pelvis. After five days in the hospital, she is now in the nursing care wing of University Place. This is the facility she has called home in her independent-living apartment for almost nine years.

We hope she is with us a while longer, but no matter the number of her days, she has left us an example of someone who knew what mattered most. People.

Nana touched the lives of everyone she met. Within minutes of meeting her, she would find out your name and where you were from. She made you feel special. Case in point… just this week her day nurse at the hospital brought his family to meet her because she was so sweet. What an example!

Our son, Joey, wrote his Nana a very touching letter filled with special memories. He described not only memories of her from growing up but also memories of her now with his own children.

To live our lives in such a way that our grandchildren’s and even great-grandchildren’s lives are impacted that way is a life well lived.

How can we prioritize people?

If we agree that prioritizing people is something that matters most, what are tangible ways we can do that – especially at this time of year?

Be fully present with others.

Make eye contact. Listen. Engage and connect. Talk rather than text.

Treat strangers like friends.

Smile at the harried cashier. Let someone in front of you in line. Strike up a conversation.

Be generous.

Drop some money in the red kettle. Offer to carry some groceries or open a door. Share. Buy a meaningful gift. Forgive someone.

Be flexible.

Hold your plans with a light touch. Be ready to course correct when the inevitable crisis comes. Prioritize people over plans.

Allow others to help you.

If you are the one going through a crisis, let your friends and family lend you a hand. Reach out for support. Being needed is a gift.

Live in the present.

This bears repeating… Be fully where you are, not where you are going. Make sure the people you are with feel your presence.

Prioritize people and focus on what matters most.

“The things that matter most must never be at the mercy of the things that matter least.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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