What Matters Most?
What Matters Most?
Many would say we live in chaotic times. We deal with the challenges and stresses of daily life. Getting to work. Managing a home. Shuttling kids. Nurturing relationships. Managing conflicts.
Then there is troubling world news. Violence. Politics. Injustice. Suffering. And 24-hour news channels, tweets and constant news updates to remind us how screwed up the world is.
Everything seems to be messed up. And everything is changing.
Huge shifts are taking place in religions including Christianity and Islam, a phenomenon which some say tends to occur every 500 years or so. Old ways of thinking are challenged as communities must once again decide on what authority they should order themselves and how their religion is defined.*
We are exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of advertising messages per day. Researchers disagree on how many we see and hear in an average day, but advertisers know they must try harder and harder to get our attention. Everybody wants a piece of us. And that discussion doesn’t even consider the number of interruptions we experience from family and friends on our digital devices.
Technologies remind us that yesterday’s hot items are obsolete. And the amount of information we are expected to keep up with is mind boggling.
According to futurist and inventor R. Buckminster Fuller, until 1900, it would take about 100 years or so for human knowledge to double. In the last century, the speed accelerated so that now, knowledge is doubling about every 12 months. And according to IBM, “the internet of things” will soon lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours!**
Change is inevitable. Yet humankind has never experienced change at such a rapid rate.
It’s all enough to make your head spin as violently as the main character in The Exorcist!
So what are we to do? What will we look like in a few years? Will we all be found cowering in the corners of our homes sucking our thumbs and completely disengaging from the unrealistic demands of postmodern life?
Or perhaps a more relevant question is this: how can we handle it all now?
Many people and situations can threaten our peace. Perhaps like me you seem to be in a tsunami of stress lately! Here are some techniques that are helping me; maybe they can help you too.
– Ask yourself: What matters most? If you can answer that question, you may find permission to engage in some of the following strategies (and more that you identify yourself).
– Say NO! It’s OK to turn off the TV, put your phone on silent and create healthy boundaries between you and the chaos.
– It’s OK to distance yourself from those people in your life who are life-suckers instead of life-givers. You know what I mean, the people who put unrealistic demands on you, deflect their own pain onto you and otherwise try to steal your joy. It’s OK to have healthy boundaries.
– Take time to reflect. I start every day with a time of devotion and reflection. I read and listen to words and music that are nurturing and encouraging. I reflect on the day, priorities, relationships and what kind of person I want to be. I find it vital to be exposed to messages that offer an alternative to the negativity and chaos all around.
– WHAT MATTERS MOST (to you)?
It helps if we can step back from the demands, the challenges and the stress.
Try to re-gain the big picture.
In the end, what are your REAL priorities?
In reflecting on this question lately: What matters most? I easily said out loud to myself:
These may or may not be what matters most to you. But I challenge you to take some time to contemplate the question and form your own answer.
What matters most?
*Tickle, Phyllis (2012). The great emergence: How Christianity is changing and why. Baker Books. For a more condensed version of these concepts, listen to Phyllis Tickle’s talks in July 2014 on the Gracepointe Church podcast on iTunes or online (video) at https://vimeo.com/100366564
** Schilling, David Russell (April 19, 2013). Knowledge doubling every 12 months, soon to be every 12 hours: http://www.industrytap.com/knowledge-doubling-every-12-months-soon-to-be-every-12-hours/3950 Also see Buckminster Fuller, R. Critical Path (1981) New York: St Martin’s Press.
Photo by Matt Paul Catalano: https://unsplash.com/@mattpaul