Time and time again, when people are asked about what matters most to them, the #1 response continues to be Relationships. Is this true for you too? It seems to be true for the majority of people. Of course this answer is more prominent in some groups of people than in others, but the overall winning answer is that people matter most to people.
This response gets even stronger the older we get. Seems that the importance we place on the quality of our relationships increases with experience. There is a compelling book and article that has reached across the world, written by Bronnie Ware, a former nurse who worked for several years with dying patients as she helped people gracefully close the curtain on their lives. Bronnie got to know her patients well and was able to ask them important questions; one of them being “what regrets do you have about your life?” The answers she received over and over again had everything to do with being real, being happy, being better at relationships. At the end of their lives they came to realize that their careers, their jobs, their bank accounts, their possessions, their beauty, their status and more paled in comparison to giving themselves permission to be who they truly were and to spend their time and energy on the love they shared with other people. Living authentically and creating memories of connecting with someone else and caring about each other is what truly mattered and what they saw as their greatest accomplishment as well.
Why Don’t We Pay Attention to Relationships?
So, here is the big question. If nothing truly matters more than relationships, then why aren’t we paying bigger, more focused attention on them? This question brings up more questions. Why is our divorce rate so high? Why is our media so full of stereotypes of uncaring and greedy men and catty, over-sexed women? Why do we spend so much time teaching our children academics and so little time teaching humanity and compassion, connection and empathy? Why is the number one medicine prescribed in our nation some form of anti-depressant to stop us from feeling our loneliness and pain? Why do so many people spend so much time on social networks with literally hundreds or more “friends” but still end the day with a feeling of disconnectedness and aloneness? Why is so much of our focus on what other people are doing, or not doing, while we cover up our feelings of inadequacy and our fears of being unloved or, worse, unlovable?
If what matters most is our relationships, then shouldn’t that be the first place we spend our time , energy and effort if what we truly want is a happy, fulfilling life worth living? Seems to me that it is, but that is easy for me to say since I have dedicated my professional and personal life to the pursuit of strong, healthy, amazing relationships!
What Matters Most to You?
Your next promotion? Your next educational, business, or materialistic milestone? Your next 10 pounds gone on the scale? Your desire to look into your own eyes and love who you see? What is it? What do you want? What is driving you right now today? What are you most passionate about? Are you giving THAT your attention and time and energy? Are you working on yourself internally to be able to not only create what you want but to be ready and able to receive it, keep it and grow with it?
I have read several studies lately that talk about the increasing selfishness of our society; how people are more concerned with how they are perceived than how they really are. I don’t want to believe it and, honestly, in my line of work, this isn’t what I am seeing. What I see is a return to connection and a growing realization that we need each other in order to be our best. I see a longing for relationships that support and encourage and embrace us in all of our imperfect glory. That is what I am focused on and that is what I invite others to experience. After all, at the end of this journey, it is most likely that we will find what the others have found; that what mattered most won’t have been me, or you…it was US as our real selves.