For the past while I’ve been getting pain in my wrists while drumming, a passion of mine for over thirteen years. Only my left wrist hurt after playing and this only started when I changed kits upon moving cities around a year and a half ago. It has been getting worse and worse. Recently, my wrists have been hurting continuously to varying degrees. It could be because of changing my gym routine, some other injury and so on… I’m not sure. My wrists allow me to write and drum, two of the things that make me the happiest, and without my hands it’d be hard to do anything in life. I’ve taken precautions on limiting time with each activity, taking breaks, and stretching. I’ve gone and am going to see more Doctors. I’m looking into physiotherapy.
I am honestly scared shitless.
What this has showed me is how much I love both these activities and how much they mean to me. If I lost them I would be a wreck. But this got me thinking… What about other things in life?
Life is chaotic. You are thrown curveballs and wrenches all the time continuously taking up your attention and the most important things can get lost in the background.
- Are you a professional who works immensely long hours and hardly has time to see your significant other?
- Are you a focused student who needs to get their homework done and doesn’t have time to go out with friends?
- Have you lost track of what your parents are doing, or their lives?
- Are you unhappy or confused about where your life is going?
With all our wants, needs, time constraints and so on… it’s hard to sometimes enjoy what we have, or actually TAKE THE TIME to enjoy it.
“There is too much to do”
“I can look into that later”
“It’s not important right now”
Sometimes the only way to know how much something means to you is to have it taken away by force or, as a need, not be addressed and claw at your emotionally. Then, the void shows us how much that specific item added to our life.
You promise yourself something like this will never happen again. But then another crushing wave of life comes and things get swept up beneath the currents leading to a continuous cycle of the most important things to you falling to the bottom of your list.
This cannot continue.
Here are the top things I consider to be my priorities in life, which I always try to keep in mind and how paying attention to them can help you:
No questions asked – friends will make or break you. Period. Without the support of my friends I would not be who I am today and I thank God everyday for having them. Good friends help, push, and challenge you while providing external voices to contrast your own about situations that affect your life. They may also participate in those events.
You started with your family and they never leave you, even upon death. You can pick your friends, but not your family. Your parents support and taught you as best they could. Your siblings (should you have them) were there to argue with you, and probably still do. Your grandparents offer wisdom… and most likely some amazing cooking. Your family provides constant love in their own way and will always be there for you, especially the immediate relatives.
3. Social activities and connection
People are amazing and interesting. I am an introvert and I do get social anxiety, but once I start learning about people or am in a very social mode it’s hard to stop. Social activities are the number one cure for loneliness and where you will meet your friends. Whether it be a school rally, a meetup.com group of LARPers, band camp… Never ever push away these activities.
I would also include romance and dating here, of course not to be used as a cure for loneliness, but as a means of connection (however you choose to define the connection you desire).
4. Spouse, loved one, boyfriend, girlfriend
Dating in itself provides connection. Once you are focused on specific people though and have been seeing them, do not take them for granted. Dating offers the chance for someone to care and love you, and vice versa. With the right people, it is an amazing avenue that should not be squandered or de-prioritized. Individuals in this category share things that NO ONE else shares with you in terms of connection. Don’t let these relationships slide. Nourish, cherish, and appreciate these opportunities.
Paramount. Any necessary appointment must be attended and all work is secondary. You only have one body until scientists and engineers perfect organ growth, so take as best care of it as possible. Get regular check-ups. Go to the gym. Go run outside. Be active. Eat well.
6. Getting outside
Staying inside makes you feel suffocated and isolated. Get outdoors and into the sun. Take a walk, go see some friends, go to a festival. Doing anything that gets you out of your house will make you feel better, even if only for a little while. I am a big proponent of walking just to walk. Twenty minutes outside gives me a refreshed mind to tackle my next task.
A one off from this is that the deeper into the core of a city you go, the more external stimulus you receive from noise, billboards, and a lack of space. Escaping to a more suburban setting, or even better to a place isolated from the city can re-set your mind and clear it. Think: meditation retreat, camping, fishing, boating, and so on.
You are an amazing, unique, and talented individual with experiences and knowledge that no one else can have: there is only one of you. Find things that you love doing: sports, creative pursuits (writing, painting, …), board games, whatever they may be… Find them to match what you have inside, and just do them for the sake of doing them.
8. Life direction
Always check on where you’re heading in life. While it’s necessary to stay in the now to avoid mental anguish and anxiety, check on what goals you have for the future. Plan ahead. What do you want to accomplish? What do you need to support your goals? What mark would you love to leave on this Earth when you pass? What things do you want to experience? All of these questions determine the direction you are heading in and you can alter things in your life to match up with how you want your life to play out.
9. Financial sustainability
I do not prescribe to the view that money buys happiness, as Mark Manson of PostMasculine.com discussed in his Life Guide to Happiness: A UN report  found that above a middle-class income, money has no correlation to happiness. However, money is necessary to take advantage of several opportunities, such as to pursue passions and fund life direction. It is a necessity for survival as well to pay for shelter and food. The key is to hopefully achieve financial sustainability doing things you love, versus slaving away at something that “pays the bills”. This also includes being smart about investing and learning investment strategies.
10. Moments of silence, solitude, and reflection
Silence breeds peace, relaxation, and tranquility (when in a reasonably healthy state). I love being out and doing things but silence helps me slow down, feel less stress, and be quite productive. Silence also allows for reflecting on your life: How are things going? What can you learn from things that didn’t go as planned in the past few days? Are you on track with your goals? Meditation and journalling can be a part of this.
Solitude in of itself does not necessarily have to be associated with silence. Perhaps some of your passions are done alone, and involve noise (say with music), but it’s just you doing what you love. Perhaps it’s treating yourself to a nice dinner, or some other form of a “self-date”.
Solitude does not entail isolation and loneliness. Solitude is selected, voluntary time alone to re-charge your batteries and “do you”. Feeling isolated and lonely and not doing anything about it is a different story. As philosopher Paul Tillich said:
Language created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. It also created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone”.
Treasure these moments, as the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.
11. Education and Learning
Have you ever felt that spark of excitement trying or learning something new?
There are an INFINITE number of books out there, and the internet gives you access to hoards of information (the usefulness and accuracy of which should be called into scrutiny at times however…). There is no reason not to be learning something new. You have an amazing tool at your disposal: the brain. The brain can be a source of sadness and anguish, absolutely. But, it also enables you to build and re-build upon the blank slate created when you were just a baby. Not familiar with a topic or curious about something? Find some resources to teach yourself or seek out someone who already knows about it to keep the knowledge coming.
This can also be applied to activities! Learn a new sport, dance, recipe…
Education does not necessarily just mean going to school and obtaining a degree. That is one form of gaining knowledge, but there are so many things I have learned from just living life on a daily basis that I could never learn from books or a class room.
We were not put on this Earth to suffer and drown in a pool of tears. We were put here and to help others while doing so (hopefully hurting as few as possible best of our ability). If you feel amiss, re-visit the previous items and check what could use some focus and sprucing up. The balancing of these is a skill in of itself, but having these categorical priorities looked at and going well breeds the final and most important metric.