The Top 4 Priorities of Life
In an era that tells us to keep rushing – from the time we are children – to reach the next milestone of life, it’s hard to keep our priorities straight. Mix in an overload of media, internet, competition, and pop culture, and it becomes almost impossible to hear yourself think.
In order to properly prioritize your life, you need to take a step back and reassess where you are investing your time and energy. Alongside this, in my opinion, it becomes quite beneficial (necessary, in fact) to keep yourself accountable for every single decision you make. It doesn’t matter how big or small each decision is – rather, it matters that you make every decision consciously and purposefully according to your priorities and goals.
At this point in my life, I feel that it makes most sense to prioritize ourselves in this order:
1. Health - Of mind, of body. Keep yourself in shape. Aerobic exercise is a must, along with other recreational or occasional forms of exerting physical energy. Interestingly, studies have shown that regularly exercising and accomplishing physical challenges will automatically keep your mind sharper and happier. In addition, it will embolden you to accept other non-physical challenges. Moreover, your brain needs mental stimulation on a regular basis – outside of family or work. Read the news. Read books. Stay up on what’s going on in the world, what happened in history, and how it relates to your perspectives. Practice artistic hobbies and express your views while reflecting on the beauties of life. Be aware of yourself, your words, your actions. Groom your body and practice good hygiene. Maintain regular schedules of sleeping, eating, and otherwise as described here. More than anything, don’t obsess over your health – be moderate, and enjoy it.
“When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied.” – Herophilus
The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they’ll ease
Your will they’ll mend
And charge you not a shilling.
- Nursery rhyme quoted by Wayne Fields, What the River Knows, 1990
“The trouble with always trying to preserve the health of the body is that it is so difficult to do without destroying the health of the mind.” – G.K. Chesterton
“Our body is a machine for living. It is organized for that, it is its nature. Let life go on in it unhindered and let it defend itself, it will do more than if you paralyze it by encumbering it with remedies.” – Leo Tolstoy
“There’s lots of people who spend so much time watching their health, they haven’t got time to enjoy it.” – Josh Billings
2. Relationships - Family, friends, and people that YOU care about seem to be a logical secondary life priority after you take care of yourself. In fact, studies have shown that people who do volunteer work or show regular compassion or generosity to others are more likely to be happy and satisfied with their own life goals and accomplishments. In addition, laughing is said to help oxygenate your blood stream, and a smile is said to require less energy than a frown. Maintaining positive relationships with the people you love is vitally important to a balanced life as it will seemingly create a “give and take” cycle between you and others. Ultimately, though, don’t spend too much time on people you don’t care about, or people that always let you down. This sounds harsh, but such actions will only negatively impact your a) health and b) relationships overall.
“Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.” – Tennessee Williams
“Having someone wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night is a very old human need.” – Margaret Mead
“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.” – Unknown
There’s one sad truth in life I’ve found
While journeying east and west -
The only folks we really wound
Are those we love the best.
We flatter those we scarcely know,
We please the fleeting guest,
And deal full many a thoughtless blow
To those who love us best.
- Ella Wheeler Wilcox
3. Career and Purpose - Keep your long-term goals and identity in mind with every decision. Contrary to popular sayings, a job is not “just a job”… rather, like they address in the movie Repo Men, “you are what you do.” In the old days, most people wound up falling into whatever industry their father was in – farming, fishing, carpentry, textiles, blacksmith, etc. In the postmodern age, however, we have the blessing, and curse, of having too many options. It has the effect of making life decisions harder – overwhelming, at times, as we decide on education, training, where to live, which subcultures to be a part of, and what career paths to pursue. Moreover, sometimes we don’t have a choice, during bad economic times or between jobs or schools, and we fall into random opportunities. Rather than getting caught up in the crazy speed and confusion of the modern world, challenge yourself to make decisions according WHO and WHAT you want to be. Got rejected from medical school but haven’t given up? Then find a job in the meantime and remain focused on your ultimate goals. At all costs, do not remain stagnant or hesitant for too long. You can only learn more about yourself, and more about your purpose, by moving around and trying various things. Here is a fascinating and inspiring rundown about life purpose you should check out.
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
“Each of the professions means a prejudice. The necessity for a career forces every one to take sides. We live in the age of the overworked, and the under-educated; the age in which people are so industrious that they become absolutely stupid.” – Oscar Wilde
“Don’t ever let economic alone determine your career or how you spend the majority of your time.” – Denis Waitley
God, grant 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.
4. Fun & Satisfaction - Don’t live for tomorrow, live for today. Enjoy life. Pleasure is so important and brings the cycle of life priorities back to #1, which is your own personal health and well-being. There are funny differing opinions and wordings regarding the idea of being content or satisfied. Some people believe that to live an energetic, happy, and interesting life, you must “never be satisfied” and keep going and going on to various things. This is intriguing, and I understand what they mean. However, I think it is important as humans to pursue, and consciously acknowledge to ourselves, a certain level of contentment and satisfaction when we accomplish the things we sought to, or when we reach certain encouraging milestones, or when we have a fantastic season of life doing something we enjoy, or something that is truly good, or something that we did with people we love that is just awesome. At the end of the day – no, actually, at any time of any day, you should generally be on the path that you WANT to be on, even if its a short diversion or pause. You should never live for “one day” or worry about tomorrow constantly. Today was yesterday’s tomorrow, and such a cycle is so dangerous. Have fun with people, marvel at the beauty of the natural world, listen to music, develop your hobbies, travel, and play around with the idea of satisfaction.
“Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” – Book of Ephesians
“Don’t let the past steal your present.” – Terri Guillemets
“If you are still talking about what you did yesterday, you haven’t done much today.” – Author Unknown
“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.” – Babatunde Olatunji
*Some people might argue that religion, or lifestyle ideologies and philosophies, should also appear on this list, probably at the top. However, it would seem that such a logic is in fact blinding. Universal human values can fit into any reasonable and natural ideology, hence, this list is presented “as-is.”