I read the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People a while back and have since focused even harder to center my life around a few core principles, rather than things like: what would benefit me the most, what would make my spouse happy, what would make us the most money, etc.
The book explains in detail why centering your life around principles is so important, I also explained why in one of my recent posts: Grief, Ego, & Principles. I highly recommend reading the book. It can get kind of technical, but it’s worth powering through, because the lessons in it are valuable. People greatly underestimate how helpful the knowledge in books are. If you don’t like reading, you can listen to audio books instead.
The 4 Principles I Center My Life Around:
#1 My Health is My Top Priority:
Health is Wealth. A cliché, but it is true. If you’re not healthy, you can’t enjoy life as much as you could if you were.
I ask myself, is the choice I’m making what is best for my health? If not, I make a different choice. When I say health I don’t just mean physical, I mean mental, emotional, & spiritual health too. Maybe what I need more than exercising somedays is rest. Maybe I need to unplug & get off of social media for a day.
I once heard an example that really puts everything in perspective: Imagine you win the lottery, you’re all excited that you get to quit your job, travel, & purchase some things you’ve always wanted. 2 weeks later you have a doctors appointment & they tell you you’re going to die in a month, does all that money really matter then? Some could argue yes, for their heirs it matters, now your kid(s) or your spouse may not have to work or worry about funeral costs, but from your perspective, the money doesn’t mean much now. What you would probably want more than anything is your health back & to be able to have more time with your loved ones, something money can’t buy.
Which is a perfect Segue into my next most important principle…
#2 I Prioritize My Relationships:
I make sure that the choices I’m making are good for my relationships with others and that I make space to spend time with family & friends. With this, I also make sure my relationships are healthy ones. I may need to disconnect from some people or set boundaries for the health of our relationship and for my own personal health.
I will prioritize my health over my relationships. I need a lot of alone time as an introvert, for my mental/emotional well being. So, I may decline spending time with someone if I know I need alone time for my own sanity. If I’m not healthy, that may shorten my life span therefore shortening the amount of time I have with loved ones. Also, if I’m mentally unwell, I’m not going to be the best friend/spouse/whatever I can be. I am then less capable of helping & supporting those around me.
Your relationships are the second most important thing after your health.
#3 Live an Eco-Minimalist Lifestyle:
We need a healthy planet to live on.
Our Earth & Eco-Systems are dying, so I want to do everything in my power to change that. If the Earth dies, we won’t have the human race, let alone things like the economy or social issues to worry about.
In order for me to help the planet, the healthier I am, the more I can accomplish. Then I can also use my relationships & network to get the word out on different ways we can help Earth, & in turn help absolutely every living creature on it.
So before I make a choice, pretty much anytime I go anywhere, use anything, or buy anything, I ask myself: “Is this the most sustainable option available to me right now?” Then if it is, great, if not, I try to find an alternative. I am very mindful about each choice I make everyday and how it impacts our Earth. The goal isn’t perfection, it’s to do better. Slowly make better choices for the planet. Like once your laundry detergent runs out, replace it with a more sustainable version.
Along with making more sustainable choices, I include minimalism. –The idea of “Less is more.” because it absolutely is. For this, I highly recommend the book Lightly, the blog The Minimalists, as well as checking out the Minimal Mom & Nick Keomahavong on YouTube. Minimalism is so freeing, great for the Earth, great for you financially, & great for your health! I can’t hype it up enough, you will not regret it. Trust me.
#4 Achieving Financial Independence & Being Debt Free:
The final principle I base my choices on, is: Will this choice help me get closer to Financial Independence/Becoming Debt Free? If not, I walk away. Often it is an item I don’t need to buy.
Now, if the thing I am questioning is great for my health & the environment, but costs money, I’m going to do it anyway because I prioritize my health, relationships, & sustainability over money. For example, I pay quite a bit of money each month to have a weekly therapy session. Is that helping me towards my financial goals? Not at all, in fact it is setting me back, BUT it is great for my mental health! And that is my #1 priority. Another example, is shopping at our local co-op for most of our food instead of HyVee or Walmart. It is more expensive for sure, but it is better for our physical health & better for the environment, so we do it anyway.
If whatever I am trying to decide isn’t good for my health, my relationships, the earth, or my finances, then I’m not going to do/buy it. Every choice I make has to benefit at least one of those options. Whatever doesn’t align with these 4 principles, I kick it out of my life. For example: Alcohol (bad for your health & expensive -is often bad for relationships too!), people who I feel crappy around (bad for my health & relationships), unsustainable products (bad for my health & the Earth), etc.
I am by no means perfect in any of these areas either! I have a long way to go when it comes to health, sustainability, minimalism, etc. It’s a journey though, not a destination. I want to continuously improve in these 4 areas.
These are just my personal core life principles. Yours do not need to be the same as mine! I do think Health & Relationships are/should be the top 2 priorities for everyone across the board though. You can have more than 4 principles too, I suggest keeping it to 5 or less, otherwise it can get to be too much to keep track of.
What are your core principles? Do you agree or disagree with any of my principles?
Thank you for reading! 🙂