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The Most Important Thing In Life Is...
Do You Know What Is More Important To You Than Anything Else?
Over a financial career spanning more than 25 years, I had the good fortune to work with thousands of people in the area of finance. This career gave me a truly extraordinary opportunity to observe human behavior in a very close-up fashion. I noticed that when people begin disclosing things about themselves in the area of money, things that are usually hidden from sight rise to the surface and they are exposed in a way that human interaction does not typically reveal us. I found, oddly enough, that many of the people I worked with would rather tell me the intimate details of their sex life than talk to me about their finances, and many actually did. And this was just our first meeting. I would ask them a financial question, their eyes would go blank, they would wander off into the recesses of their mind, and then they would tell me some private detail from a past tryst. I don't want to say that this was because they unconsciously equated dealing with their finances to being proverbially 'screwed', but you can draw your own conclusions on this.
Because of the intimate nature of discussing one's financial history, trust is very important and quickly leads to a confidence in the relationship bonded here. Many friendships were made through these times and the exchange of ideas flowed easily between myself and those I served. One of the questions I would always ask people was, "What is more important to you than anything else?" The surprising thing about the answers I received is how long it took each person to come up with the explanation. Immediately after my inquiry I would look at the time and note how long it took for the person I was working with to conclude the answer to my survey. The average time was just over 2 minutes.
As I have said before, I used my career as a study in human behavior and also as a way to encourage peoples' awareness and thoughtfulness about their lives. It dawned on me, through a search I had undertaken in my early 20's, that if a person did not know what was more important to them than anything else, all of their choices were being made through what already limits them. I call these our limiting beliefs. You will see what I mean as we proceed.
One of the last clients I had was a young woman, aged 32, who was physically beautiful, intelligent, wise in her investments, very successful in her career and with an astuteness and sense of humor which was truly endearing. One day she called me to have lunch with her. I agreed and we set a day and time to meet. We sat down in the restaurant and the first thing she said was, "I don't know you very well, but you appear to have a great life." I told her that I have a magnificent life and how much I appreciated her recognition of it. She said, "I would not know where to start to have a great life." Well, I am sitting there looking at her and thinking that she has all the components necessary to have the best life possible, so I said, "What is more important to you than anything else?" I then looked at my watch and waited. After just over two minutes she finally said, "I would like to have a life partner." I said, "Describe this person to me." She started by saying, "I want to have a man in my life who is intelligent, successful, spiritually oriented and who shares my interests." She continued her description with many other characteristics such as kindness, attractiveness, a good sense of humor and more. I was still observing her and there honestly was nothing to indicate a reason why she had not found this man. So, I said, "Tell me about men." She began with, "Well, men are basicly shallow." To this I said, "Stop." I then asked her if she was listening to what she had just said. She looked quizzically at me and said, "What do you mean?" I said, "You didn't say, I 'think' men are basically shallow, which would have indicated that you had studied men, you said it as if it was a well-known fact and that everyone was aware of it." She actually believed that men being shallow was a truism. I continued by telling her that she could meet the ideal man, based on her own criteria, and because of her limiting belief in 'men being shallow', she would interpret everything he said and did as evidence that it was true. She would then never even give him a chance to prove himself otherwise. Imagine the inner conflict this would cause. I said, "Each man is different and if you want to know what they are like, ask them questions about themselves and listen intently to what they are saying." She said that she had never considered that men had no possibility with her. I said, "We believe what we say is true, and then commit our thinking, actions and lives to these impressions." Continuing, I said, "At different times during our early childhood we have experiences that we are too young to analyze and make life-altering decisions because of these events." "Through our decisions, at these times, we commit our lives to these 'limiting belielfs', and spend the rest of our lives collecting evidence for what we already 'know' is true." I asked her what conversations were like when she was together with other women friends. She said they talk about men and the futility of finding a "good man". I said, "And what is the conclusion you, yourself, draw from these interactions?" She said, "I feel hopeless and helpless to improve my life." We continued with this conversation for quite some time. But, on parting, she assured me that she would never again look at any aspect of her life as if it had no possibility.
You can see through my interaction with this lovely young woman that if a person does not know what is more important to themselves than anything else, the filtering device being used to make all one's decisions is their 'limiting beliefs'. If this woman had been accutely aware of the importance of finding the life partner she described, her commitment when interacting with men would have been to explore those men through her own ideals and see where the matches were found between them. As most of us do not escape our young childhood without scars, I imagine that most of us use what already limits us to decide our future. When a person knows what is more important to them than anything else, though, every choice is made with the intention of producing a desired outcome instead of in repeating the limitations of the past. We all have the ability to create the life of our own design. It only takes being aware of our priorities and acting on those with unbending intent.
For me, personally, the most important thing in my life is peace of mind. I sincerely make the greatest effort, I can, to live my life in a way that my choices and decisions will contribute to this peace. If I do not have this, I am unable to appreciate the blessings and joys that fill my life and are all around me. If I am troubled, my husband, my friends and my family do not receive the best of me. If I am focused on my concerns I will not make every effort to bring happiness to those closest to me, even though I know that my own happiness is tied to theirs. And, on a lighter note, as my husband lovingly says, "If mama ain't happy, no one is going to be happy."