We live in a fast-paced world of innovation and change, that it so easy to lose sight of the important things in life.
We asked 12 experts, “What are the most important things in life?”
See their top insights below.
Lia Jill Levitt
Speaker | Writer | Advocate, Ain’t She Sweet, LLC
In relationships, whether personal or professional, I find no value supersedes the importance of loyalty.
With loyalty comes trust, dependability, and consistency.
Without it, there is no foundational basis for the aspect in relationships that provides both comfort and joy.
I’ve found through the breakups of friendships, family estrangement and the dissolution of work relationships that loyalty was the pinnacle of why these did not work out.
To be loyal is to care with unselfish devotion not because you have to but because you want to.
Leaving a six-figure job with benefits, a 401k and paid time off, many thought was crazy. I always said I was born to be in corporate America.
I played the game better at some companies than others, but through a multitude of various industries, I didn’t feel I had an impact on society.
I realized the fancy perks were just that. I loved them and I miss the beautiful hotels with filet mignon dinners on business trips, but I don’t miss the incessant meetings and discussing work, not producing it.
Though I essentially made up a job that doesn’t really exist, as an intellectually inspirational speaker for the elderly, I see impact.
Even with those with severe declines due to dementia, if I’m able to connect with some to get eye contact and with others to allow them to share a memory, no one has asked about in years, my work now matters.
I’ve been told the residents get a lot out of my programs, but I know I get more.
If you’d have told twenty-year-old me I’d travel the world to every continent sans Antarctica solo, I’d have rolled my eyes and walked away.
I went from living life in a 15-mile radius to happily taking the longest flights in existence.
While I had the benefit of attending school in a diverse city, so much so that friends said my birthday parties were akin to a UN gathering, I wanted to truly experience the differences.
Due to the kindness of a group of Australian traveling nurses who adopted me at a hotel in Fiji, I found myself in a traditional village sitting on a mat speaking with a woman about how they blamed Facebook for the increase in marital discord in their country.
My life is enriched by experiences like this where I open myself up to the opportunity of learning through experience.
This is the magic of being a part of the lives of others who may be different, but at the core are more similar than many would guess.
As an off the chart extrovert, I crave the ability and opportunity to connect with others.
Talking is learning and listening is understanding.
From the centenarians I speak with to the high school students I advise as part of my other business doing college admissions consulting, I find my work with the two most undervalued populations creates amazing connections.
I love hearing and being a part of people’s stories. With teens, I help them realize a future they’re on the cusp of and with the elderly, I help them remember a past that defines them.
Outside of work, I live on the phone, though I spend all day talking because I love connecting with those people who are my mainstays.
Often I’m asked, do you ever sleep which is ironic since I sleep more than most!
In order to have the energy to speak loudly to those who are hard of hearing, (which isn’t in my nature) I sleep..a lot. My rule on weekends is I don’t get out of bed prior to noon.
The joy of self-employment is creating your own hours. I rarely work before 11 and when I start my day at 2 PM I set an alarm for noon.
I never feel guilty about the hours I sleep or amount that I need because as soon as I wake up I’m ready to conquer, but more so, see the world.
Talya Miron-Shatz, PhD
Freud is reported to have said that most important things in life are ‘lieben und arbeiten’ (love and work).
I agree, and I think it’s also great if you combine the two. If you love what you do, it’s golden. And if you feel that your work brings some form of love and good into the world, even better.
Read related article: Why Is Work Life Balance so Important in Today’s World?
This may sound very new-agey, but I try to apply it in my life: as an academic, I chose to study medical decision making over other topics in the hope that I would help people make better ones – which means if I stay up super late to work, I know it means something, not just for my career but maybe for other people as well.
Come to think of it, Buddy&Soul, our personal development platform, can lead people into loving – primarily themselves, and then others. Once this is done, they can delve into their mission in the world, which will, in turn, help them love themselves even more.
Jazz Musician | Writer
#1 Making contact with, and possibly working/playing with inspiring people.
I’ve been very lucky with the quality of folks I’ve gotten to play with, be taught, and collaborate with. I’ve also made a concerted effort to be with those people.
#2 Paying attention to myself in a non-judgmental way.
This is something I’ve had to cultivate. It doesn’t come naturally, it’s a way of being in the world that I prize highly. I not only strive to live this way, I teach my students to live this way in their practice and, if possible, in their daily lives.
#3 Dreaming big and getting there very gradually through achievable goals.
Those big dreams have kept me going. Seeing them come to fruition as the result of incremental goals has made the work worthwhile.
Self-Improvement and Children’s Book Author | TEDx speaker
While there are many things that are important to me, I feel the one thing that really helps me stay in the present moment and keeps me moving forward is to continue to learn and grow.
Life is constantly flowing and evolving around us. I feel we should be doing the same. We aren’t meant to be stagnant.
Life is so much richer when we continue to grow, mature, and have new experiences.
I know it isn’t always easy, but that’s what makes it so fulfilling; to continue to test ourselves and see the world with new eyes.
One way I am able to continue to learn and grow is to step out of my comfort zone.
When I left my family’s business 10 years ago into the unknown it wasn’t easy, but I had to honor my intuitive hunch that said I was done growing in that position and I knew that if I just stayed patient I would eventually find my bearings and I did.
I had no idea that I would be doing what I am now doing (author, speaker, actor) but as I continued to step out of my comfort zone, I began to not only find my authentic path but I began to truly feel alive.
And as I began to feel more alive I began to gain more self-awareness which leads to more self-acceptance.
What more could one ask for?
As I continued to learn, grow and become more self-aware my world opened up in amazing ways. New pathways, new ways of thinking, my foundation strengthened and experiences I only dreamed of prior became available.
#1 Competing and doing my best every day is critical to me.
When it’s all said and done, I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and say that I came to fight when it mattered and was willing to sacrifice everything to accomplish my dreams.
It’s less about the accomplishment than the effort I put forth.
I can live with failure, but I cannot live with a half-hearted effort. That’s why I work on my business every day.
#2 Doing good for my country is perhaps the most important thing to me.
Men and women have fought and died to make America as incredible as it is today. It’s the land of freedom and opportunity, but this less a benefit than a responsibility.
It’s our duty to uphold democratic traditions and good business ethics. I want to create jobs, employ talented people, reinvest in our communities, help veterans, and ensure that I do good for our people.
It’s tough out there – the Opportunity Divide in America is growing, so we need leaders, entrepreneurs, public servants, and dedicated citizens to step forward and do their part to make their communities better.
This is a tradition. If we forsake our responsibilities, the next generation will be more inclined to drift toward apathy.
Founder, Help For Mums
I would have to say ‘connection with people’.
I was thinking about this today when I was standing in a lift watching several people using their mobile phones. I kept thinking “why are people doing this constantly?”
Then it hit me – people are desperately seeking connection with others. Deep connection.
When we look at research into new mothers, for instance, we find that having good relationships is a buffer for higher self-esteem.
So the more connected we feel with others, the happier we will feel within ourselves.
Personally, this is the most important thing for me. Having that deep connection with my young children, my husband, friends, colleagues, and clients is what drives me and makes me feel happier.
It fuels my sense of purpose and makes me a better person. I have clients that text me for support in between counseling sessions and I am always so happy to know I’ve been able to make a difference in their lives.
This would never happen without close connections. My children know there is always unconditional love coming from their parents – no matter what.
This creates a bond where boundaries can be set and trust and respect can be constantly fostered.
We live in a world where people are increasingly feeling disconnected – hence why social media has become so popular and is important for many people to feel a sense of connection with others.
What we need to do more of is extend that close connection to bring communities together. This is what’s important to me.
Katie Ziskind, LMFT
Owner, Wisdom Within Counseling
Even though in our American culture we are told that more money and the newest car are important, these things are not important to me as much as being there for my loved ones and creating genuine relationships.
Shiny objects can be distracting. However, when I do yoga and focus back on myself, I remember that being a good friend to my partner and being a good listener to my clients are what’s most important.
On my deathbed, all the money in the world won’t matter. Yes, good finances are important, but being emotionally connected to people is what rewards me and is important in my life. Also, I love teaching yoga!
Co-Founder, Black Excellence
After many, many years of analyzing myself and my priorities, I have come to understand that the most important things to me are contribution and intimate relationships.
I knew from an early age that I was fascinated by everything media and the power it has to shape society. I knew that was my calling.
After spending years working in corporate America, I ventured out with a partner into opening up my own photography and video company.
That led me to what I do now as the owner of Black Excellence. I get the most satisfaction out of what I do when I contribute to my community by sharing empowering and thought-provoking stories.
That is my contribution. Although it took me years and years to finally come to this position, I am grateful that I am here.
My other priority in life is an intimate relationship with family, friends, and a romantic partner.
I often imagine what life would hold if I achieved everything I wanted out of life but I did not have somebody to share it with. It would be meaningless to me.
That is why contribution and relationships go hand in hand for me. Everything else comes second to those two priorities.
As time goes by, the fluid motion of important things in our lives becomes more evident.
What was critical in our teens, doesn’t compare to what mattered in our twenties or thirties, and it is a far cry from what drives us in our forties and fifties.
At this a half-way point in my journey, I find that what I most value in life is clarity.
Already having a vision of what I want to achieve in my personal and professional life, I begin every day by asking for clarity of mind to recognize the opportunities, the paths, and the decisions that will get me there.
And I won’t go to sleep at the end of the day without expressing gratitude for every bit of light, courage, health, love, and abundance heaped on me.
Dawn Burnett, CSA
Founder, A New Dawn Natural Solutions
The most important things in life for me are:
- My Children – They bring so much love and joy in my life.
- Friends – We all need a shoulder to cry on.
- Connections – We were designed to communicate with others.
- Time – I pack so much into my day that time is very important.
- A good night’s sleep – My brain doesn’t function well without it.
- Healthy food – If I don’t have high-quality food eventually my health will suffer.
- Good quality water – I have had reconstructive kidney surgery and the quality of my water is as important as the air we breath. Without it, I could relapse and end up in the hospital.
- My phone – I run a business from it and It’s my lifeline to my children when we are not together.
- My laptop – I’m a published writer so I can’t live without it.
- My sauna – It’s my place to go to and shut the door, meditate, silence my mind and decompress.
- My dog – I’ve been through double burglary so he’s a service dog, I wouldn’t be able to sleep without him in the house.
- Starbucks – What can I say, I love me some Starbucks, I know all the lingo, how to mark the cup and when holiday season flavors are being launched.
- A Fat pen – I write slanted and with a skinny pen I can’t get a good grip, so it hurts my hand.
- Incense – I love to burn incense and clear the energy from my day away, it helps me to decompress.
Founder, Home Working Club
The three most important things my life are that my children are safe and happy, that I continue to evolve as a person, and that I’m always learning something new.
The safety and happiness of my children is an obvious answer, but until I became a parent I don’t think I ever realised how instinctive and primal that importance would be.
Having such a clear top priority actually seems to make life much simpler! In terms of evolution, I’m a big believer in Carl Rodgers’ theory of self-actualization and how it’s a continual process.
The constant learning is a related thing and perhaps more personal to me, but I see any idle time where I’m not feeding my brain with new knowledge or information as a bit of a waste.
I should probably try to change that view and try – once again – to get my head around mindfulness, but my relaxation seems to come when I’m buried in a book or a newspaper!
Marketing and Events Director, Fun Kids Guide
In times when I myself doubt myself my family is and will always be there to guide me back to the right track.
I’ve dealt with my fair share of heartbreaks and shortcomings in my life. I’d have to admit that I have few friends whom I know I can count on always, but it’s really different when you know that your family’s got your back.
I came from a not-so-wealthy family. My parents needed to juggle multiple jobs just for our family to survive. Growing up, I was picked on. Sometimes I won’t have food to eat during lunchtime.
I didn’t have many friends, but I was happy. Because when I get home, my parents see to it that we’ll have dinner together. That we’ll talk about how our days went and things that happened along the day.
Growing up, I’ve always known that my parents are there for me.
That’s why, now, as a Mom myself and building a family, I want to do the same for my kids. I want them to grow up knowing that they can always count on me as their mom.