“Make it clear. Make it simple. Emphasize the essentials” (Charles R. Swindoll).
SOME OF OUR GREATEST IMPROVEMENTS IN LIFE COME FROM CUTTING THROUGH THE CLUTTER AND GETTING BACK TO THE ESSENTIALS. In the round of daily ideas and activities, some things matter much more than others, and it’s important to give the best of our time and energy to the deeds that are going to make the most difference for good. But that’s hard to do. Trivia creeps into our lives at an astonishing rate, and it takes more discipline than most of us possess to keep the clutter at bay and stay focused on our priorities. So now and then, we’re greatly helped by a good “housecleaning” — one in which we get rid of “things” we don’t really need.
If something is essential, that means we have to have it. We can’t do without it. The real difficulty in life, however, is being honest enough to identify what’s essential and what’s optional. It takes a person of uncommon honesty to see the difference between what he really needs and what he merely wants. If we want something badly enough, it’s fairly easy to convince ourselves that we have to have it.
Yet even when we’re willing to be honest and courageous, we need to understand that what we think is essential depends on what our standards are. Our standards come from our principles and our values, and the truth of the matter is, we’re sometimes dangerously careless in deciding these things. We casually pick up our principles, and the standards that go along with them, from the media, the popular culture, and the people around us. As a result, we find ourselves defining the “essentials” as cars, clothes, cologne, and Caribbean cruises, and we spend 90% of our time on things that are 10% essential to real life.
Life can be complicated. The surface appearance of some things can be deceiving, and as long as Hollywood and Madison Avenue are with us, there’s going to be some confusion over what matters in life and what doesn’t. So fairly often we need to call a halt to the commerce. We need to slow down and listen. If we’ll listen, our hearts and our consciences will tell us what the essentials have always been.
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry).