The Easy Place

The Quest for Self Awareness One Moment at a Time

The Magic Question

What's important?

Image by Valerie Everett via Flickr

It used to be that I could get myself into a tizzy over just about anything.  I would rant over poor service, suspected insults (they didn’t have to be actual insults, a whiff of suspicion was enough for me), getting too little attention, getting too much attention…the list goes on and on.  My equilibrium was up for grabs, it didn’t take much to ruin my day. 

Then I learned the magic question.  The question that cut through the crap, through the excess emotion that lurked in the background ready to drag me down.   The question?

“What’s important here?”

I discovered that an honest answer was often surprising, usually revealing and always brought me back to a clean and clear reality.  Much of the time the answer made it apparent that what I was making important was, in fact, trivial.  Who cares if a sales clerk is rude to me, or if a car doesn’t stop when I’m waiting to cross the street?   These types of encounters are non-events, and complaining about them just adds another bit of ugly to the world.

Other times I realized I was making things about me.  I would react to aggravating work situations or conflicts with friends or family as if my emotional reaction was the most important element in the situation.  I ignored what really was important – getting the work done or understanding what was going on with my loved ones.

What’s most ironic is that I’ve found that the answer to the question “What’s important here?” is frequently “Nothing.” Those occurrences that actually have a lasting impact on our lives are few and far between.   Regardless of how it might feel at the moment, most of what we encounter is just people in their own little worlds doing whatever comes naturally, blithely unaware that they’re stepping on our toes.  

But there is something that is important no matter what situation we find ourselves in.  What is and always will be important is how we act when the junk of life comes up.  Do we whine and complain because others don’t behave the way we want them to?   Or do we stay true to our best selves and work though whatever we encounter with compassion and grace?

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