My seven year old son announced to me this morning this his Go Card (used for public transport) is in his 'Important Box'. Perhaps he was trying to reassure me, as I had previously shown concern that he was possibly going to leave his Go Card in some mysterious location in his bedroom, and we would never see it again (not sure why I am so cynical about such things).
So I asked him curiously what else is in his 'Important Box' (For Stuff). He went and fetched his box to show me. Here are some of the contents;
A pack of Uno cards, an expired Medicare Card, a tiny lightsaber and accompanying Luke Skywalker figurine (with tiny, felt Luke Skywalker robe), two mini Storm Trooper figures, a couple of old, random business cards, Chewbacca, a few neatly kept packs of Woolworths Super Animals collector cards, and a blue, fake 'gem' he found at school.
He stated that the light sabre (not light saver, which I believed it was called most of my life as a non-Star Wars fan) and Luke Skywalker were particularly special, and as they belonged to his Dad in the Eighties, I can see why. It got me thinking about the important stuff in our lives.
Sometimes we can easily become bogged down in the banal, everyday things of life. The repetitive, sometimes mind numbing stuff. And then there's the things we wish were different.
Research (Reich, Zautra & Hall, 2010) has suggested that those who continued to remain engaged in what was most important to them whilst facing high stress and adversity, remained resilient in the face of their adversity. These people consciously continued to pursue goals that added a sense of meaning to their life, and allowed themselves to engage in activities that brought them pleasure.
As a result they were able to sustain their well-being, whilst still facing and accepting their adversity. Well, the truth is, that living every day with circumstances that we wish were very different (our job, our marriage, our living circumstances, the hot weather) can over time start to feel quite adverse.
What adds meaning and purpose to one's life is very unique, just as unique as one's own finger print. For me my work as a Counsellor and facilitating workshops that empower others and builds their resilience adds a lot of meaning and purpose to my life. I feel blessed for this work. And yet so many other things in my day add to my sense that life is worth living and important and to be treasured, even when life is really hard.
Going out and having dinner with my friends, walking every morning, cups of tea with my husband, watching a kookaburra laugh and make a huge racket, annual trips to Caloundra, weekly visits from my Mum, spotting a beautiful frangiapani flower, teaching my son something small that may help to raise his emotional intelligence, reading an inspiring book, the list goes on, and on.
While I used to take these many things for granted and regularly felt overwhelmed by the irritation of life's irritations, I now hold alongside the reality of these irritations a conscious awareness of enjoying the small things that add meaning and purpose to my life.
My son hold's importance in the tiny, green light sabre that his Dad passed on to him. What do you have in your 'Important Box' (for stuff)? Perhaps you no longer keep a lot of your important stuff in a box, but no doubt you know what is important to you.
These are the things you value dearly, the behaviour in yourself that you strive for most, the relationships that nourish you and that you cherish, the places that bring you inner calm or pure excitement, the connections in your community that help keep you afloat, the goals and dreams and aspirations that you choose to invest your precious energy and time in, the ongoing learning that you are involved in.
Keep hold of this stuff, nourish it, make time for some of it every single day (many times a day), give it your attention and energy really regularly.
Prioritise it, after all, it is the important stuff that matters.
Reich, J.W., Zautra, A.J., & Hall, J.S. (2010). Handbook of adult resilience. New York, NY: Guildford Press; US.