Spotlight Columns

‘The Art of Life’ is what really matters

By From page B2 | December 25, 2013

The best things in life, they say, are free.

That isn’t to say that they are cheap, however. Nothing worth having ever seems to come easily.

As we say “good-bye” to 2013, I’ve done some reflecting. What are the things that really matter? For me, this goes beyond my quarterly business planning and goal setting. But it shouldn’t — for any of us, really.

Why is this important?

Well, because this is about the stuff life is made of. It’s about time. It’s about not missing out. It’s about “no regrets.”

And maybe it’s about finding happiness, too. Call it the “Art of Life” or the “Pursuit of Happiness.”

So, back to the question: What are the things that really matter? Over the years, I’ve managed to narrow the possibilities into five categories: faith, family & friends, health, recreation and financial.

Each of these categories requires time and thoughtfulness.

Faith, for most, is the bedrock upon which all the other categories rest. When your life falls apart, it may be the only steady thing you have left. And even faith gets rocked from time to time. This was a tough year for many, including yours truly. Our local faith community definitely kept me going.

Family & Friends. With the death of my parents, my extended family broke apart and rearranged this year. Who will I spend holidays with? Do I even want to spend holidays with relatives? Or would close friends be better? Do I need to make time to reach out/build relationships? And if so, with whom?

One of my business friends has a saying: “Friends are God’s apology for family.” In many cases, friends are closer than blood relatives. One thing I know for sure: No time is ever wasted that makes two people friends. And that goes for extended family, too.

Health is the one thing you can’t buy once you lose it. You have to earn it back. Too many of us learn that staying healthy (or getting healthier) is a lot less expensive than getting sick. But better late than never.

Spending a little time in the kitchen with a healthy cookbook can save a lot of dough. Double a dinner recipe for planned lunches and you can avoid processed junk foods, too.

Health clubs are great (and I do go to one), but walking around the neighborhood doesn’t cost a dime. I find the simplicity of getting outdoors is more and more appealing. It’s an opportunity to drink in the beauty of the seasons. And to pick up gardening ideas as I burn those calories and build some muscle.

Recreation is time taken to restore the soul. You can lump this category into the faith or health categories — or even with family & friends. There is an economy to recreation that gives us a nice “two-for-one” value. The arts community is a great place to see the beauty in life, all while interacting with others.

Financial goals help to keep the home bills paid. How is the job going? What can I do to help make the lives of the folks I work with a little easier? Did I keep up on my Financial Friday tasks? What about fueling future dreams? Do I need to upgrade my skills for my industry?

Some financial tasks cost little … all are an investment.

The key to each category is to take the time to make the best choices.

Doug Lisle, psychology lecturer at Stanford, says we all seek pleasure. What we often fail to realize, however, is that happiness is to be found on the journey as we pursue ultimate satisfaction.

Ancient sages call this the Present Moment. Athletes call it “the Zone.”

Whatever you call it, I wish for each of you many moments of health, joy and prosperity in 2014. May they be Eternal Moments. Go out there and make it a very Happy New Year!

Send your event for consideration in Susan’s column to [email protected]

Susan Laird


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