How to know what really matters

One day last spring, I opened the front door and noticed that the passenger door to my husband’s car was wide open.

He can be a forgetful dude, but usually not that forgetful.

Still, I was two seconds from teasing him when I noticed: his truck was open, too. And his driver’s side door.


We walked outside, and sure enough: someone had broken into our cars while we slept.

If you’ve ever had anything taken from you, you know that odd feeling of violation. But as it sunk in, I realized: our vehicles were still there, and there was no damage to either of them. They had taken maybe five dollars from my change compartment-- beloved coffee money, but not financially significant. The cars were a mess, but heck, they had been in desperate need for post road-trip cleanings, anyway.


This is not a big deal.

But it could have been.
 Or, rather, I could have made it one. I could have chosen to see this as a sign of bad luck, or I could have let that feeling of violation grow. I could blame the neighborhood, or our town, curse the local officials. I could have beat myself up for not locking my car doors or my husband for not locking his.

But I didn’t. Immediately following the discovery, my response was:

“Oh well. I hope they at least needed that five bucks more than we did. Bless and release.”

I was done; it ended there.

And as the day went on, I actually got a bit thankful for the whole experience. Because I realized: there is nothing that anyone could take from me that would matter much, anyway. Most of the things I value are not things. They’re people. Memories. Dreams.

And the majority of the “things” I do value are things that wouldn’t be of value to other people: the piece of paper that my daughter wrote “Mom” on for the first time. Our wedding album. Baby pictures. That piece of driftwood I found at the beach this summer. Notes from my husband.

It was a beautiful realization.

This isn’t a mindset I’ve always had. I’ve cultivated it, consciously, over time. You can change how your mind works, and therefore, how your life goes.

And you don’t need to have something stolen in order to have your own beautiful realization. Today, stop and think:

  • What are the “things” you surround yourself with each day-- and would you truly miss them if they were gone? (If not, maybe a little Marie Kondo-ing is in order. It sounds strange, but it's really energizing to ditch the clutter + surround yourself only with things that you love.)

  • What matters most to you? How can you feel that gratitude now? And tonight? And tomorrow? 

  • How often do you let the actions of others (including little ones) rattle you? And how can you create a little more protection for yourself? You're in control, even if it doesn't seem like it at first.