Yes, this post title is meant to be ironic. After all, how can you underestimate something if it is priceless. Yet, we do it all the time. I guess that is just part of the human condition. We are hard-wired to chase the shiny and ignore the mundane. We react to the new while downplaying the reliable. We want to move on even if where we are is completely satisfying.
With that in mind, let me put five words or concepts in front of you....things that I suggest are priceless but undervalued. Than, I ask you to react to the ones that resonate the most with you.
1) Silence. As rare as a TV newscast with only good news, the lack of noise is almost impossible to find anymore. Deep in the deepest forest you will hear an overhead airplane, a distant car engine, or birds chirping happily away. Inside your home you will hear the on/off cycling of the refrigerator, the bark of a neighbor's dog, or the ding of a cell phone text notification. Absolute silence is absolutely impossible for almost all of us.
I am referring to the silence of your mind, the lack of chatter bouncing around inside your head. With effort, this type of quiet is still attainable. Silence from worry or striving, quiet from the judgments and reactions is so important to our overall stability. For some that means meditation. Others find a healing form of silence while hiking through nature. Quietly watching birds in your backyard or a goldfish in a tank can accomplish much. The desire it to still the "noise," real and mental, that fills our days. Silence from concern, silence from judgement, silence from worry is priceless.
2) Commitment. Some might argue this is as rare as real silence. I'm not cynical enough to agree, but certainly, the concept of commitment has taken some hits over the years. This is a pretty broad term. In this context I mean commitment to things and people. Commitment to being the best or achieving one's goals are important, but not where I am heading.
Commitment to something bigger than yourself is what I think is undervalued but priceless because then it is something that becomes a foundation, a dependable anchor in a rough world. Commitment in relationships, to always doing the absolute best for children and family. Commitment to doing more than giving lip service to the needs of the poor, hurting, and disadvantaged that are all around us. Commitment to your core principles, regardless of the cost.
3) Your Word. Closely connected to commitment, there are few things more important than having your word be utterly dependable. You do what you promise to do. Family, friends, business associates, whomever, have trust that your word is every bit as reliable as a signed contract.
If someone promises something substantial or important and then wiggles out of that pledge for personal gain or convenience, a priceless resource has been lost, or at least severely damaged. Your word is your bond. It is what makes you someone who can be counted upon. Never underestimate the importance of staying true to what you say.
"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Frodo in Lord of the Rings
“How did it get so late so soon?” Dr. Seuss
“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” Charles Darwin
The point is clear. Time is the one thing that every human has a finite amount of but uses as if the supply is endless. No amount of money, no success in business and life, no fame or notoriety, no system of calendars and to-do lists, can restore the priceless value of time once we underestimate its importance and squander it away.
5) Love. For something that should be at the center of our existence we certainly have a cavalier attitude toward love. We "love" our dog, our car, our house, our TV, our new hair style, our vacation in the Caribbean.
That must mean there are different levels of love, or maybe our culture has cheapened the meaning of the word. We can think that being in love, falling in love, and loving another are the same; I'm pretty sure they are not. The first two are emotional or physical states caused by infatuation, romance, sex, and expectations. The last one is the state of carrying more for the well-being of another than yourself. It is setting your self, your ego aside when needed.
I realize this might seem a little off target for a retirement blog, but, I don't think so. These five concepts or actions are very important parts of a satisfying retirement. They help define who you are and how others will interact with you. They are things that a life of joy usually contain. Setting a price on each is impossible. But, that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to possess them.