Here’s an oversimplified theory to play with for today: there are only three piles in life.
- Things that are important
- Things that are unimportant
- Things that are unimportant but distract you from what is important
Most suffering in life comes from #3.
Marketers go to great lengths to generate a large 3rd pile in our lives. Expensive sneakers won’t make you a better athlete. A fancy car or necklace won’t make you a better, more fulfilled person. The important things in your life are rarely dependent on what you own. Or what your neighbors and extended family think of you in any way. Yet these are often the primary forces that drive our most important decisions and how we spend our time. We live lives based on other people’s flawed piles.
Unless you take explicit action to define #1 and #2 on your own, you are inheriting the value system that defines your biggest life choices. And you are inheriting it from people who likely were failed by that very framework. Why copy their system? Make your own piles and ask for feedback from those closest to you. Only they can guide you in shaping the piles most likely to shape your life into the experience you desire.
We all need other people to point out #3 for us. We’re all victim to our whims, weaknesses and egos. But if our friends know our piles, they can help us spot when too much of our lives are falling into #3.
Lastly, inventory your time. It should match neatly with your piles. How we spend our time defines what is important more than any other measure.