The most precious thing in life may not be that obvious. Over the years, I have learned what the most precious things in life are, the lessons mostly coming at times when these things have been unavailable to me. It’s true that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

As far as I’m concerned, there are 3 extremely precious things in life, and they form a Top 3 in my mind; but if you don’t have number 1 then numbers 2 and 3 can feel flat and not all that valuable. If you can manage to have the top 1 precious thing and one of the others, then you’re likely to be very happy. If you’ve got all 3 of the most precious things, you’ve really got it made. And yet some people may have all 3 and not acknowledge it, leading to ingratitude and unhappiness.precious

The important thing about the most precious things in life is that you take time to validate that you have them, that you are grateful for them and that you make the most of having them. Then your life will be full, rich and happy.

So counting down, backwards, here are the most precious things in life:

  1. Time

Having time is really important. Without enough time, you may feel stressed, depressed and feel unable to fit in all the things you would like to. You probably have more time available to you than you think.

Many people make excuses about having a lack of time to do things. If this is you, keep a timetable of every minute spent in a day or over a week. See how much time you could claw back by not checking your email or social media as much. What activities do you do that you could spend less time on? What could you delegate to other people to free up your time? Do you watch TV even if absolute rubbish is on? Do you do some things for the sake of it, even though you don’t enjoy them? Could you shorten those tasks by using different tools or by getting help to do them?

But time on its on cannot bring you happiness. Just ask someone stuck in a prison cell or in a hospital ward if they are enjoying their time? Most probably won’t appreciate that time, because they don’t have the second most precious thing in the world.

  1. Freedom

Freedom consists of many different liberties, such freedom of movement (which includes being healthy and unconfined), freedom of thought and speech, and the freedom to be oneself without risk of persecution. Most of us don’t have total freedom. We have responsibilities that we can not shirk and have to comply with certain rules and regulations.

But the worst killer of freedom can often be your own mind. It can tell you not to step outside your comfort zone or that you’re not good enough to do XY or Z, which you would love to try. You can get more freedom in your life by challenging those self-imposed boundaries. Making the effort to take one small step outside your comfort zone every day can lead to a lot of progress in a short amount of time, and every time you do it, your comfort zone expands until you’re able to do things you never dreamed possible. And never listen to naysayers. Freedom is about choice – whether you succeed or fail at something, you always learn a lesson.

You can maximise your freedom by minimising the amount you tie yourself into a certain lifestyle. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to be a homeowner if you don’t want to have a mortgage around your neck. If you don’t want children, or want them later in life, that’s your choice too. If you’d prefer not to get married, then don’t. If you don’t feel cut out for a conventional life, don’t have one. Doing what truly makes you happy and being free is much more important than what others think of your life choices.

  1. Integrity

Integrity is the most precious thing we have, because it is something we can hold onto even in the hardest times when we have no time or freedom. People like Nelson Mandela can only have survived long periods of cruel imprisonment due to the immense amount of integrity he carried with him.

As a former addict, I have previously lived without integrity, lying, cheating, taking advantage of others. And yet that behaviour is completely against my nature, which is giving, genuine and good-hearted. No wonder living as a desperate addict made me feel like my very soul had been sucked out of me.

In recovery, I have hard times now, too, but I can get through them with a surprising peace of mind as long as I act with integrity. The important thing about the value of integrity is that you do have to remind yourself of it and feel it within your body for it to have its full effect. If you’ve had a difficult day, as you put your head on the pillow at night, remind yourself of the ways you acted skilfully and kindly and in ways which match your values.

It can be easy to forget how valuable integrity is, but you will know the horrible feeling inside when you break it, the regret that comes from doing that, and the lingering feeling of all not being right with the world. So in order to have peace and contentment, aim to make the most of your time, free yourself from unnecessary binds, but most importantly of all, act with integrity in whatever you do.

 
 
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