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Rule 5: Know What Counts and What Doesn’t

Being here counts. Being kind and considerate counts. Getting through each day without seriously offending anyone or hurting anyone counts. Having the latest technology doesn’t.

Sorry, I don’t have a grudge against technology. In fact, I probably have pretty much all the latest gizmos. I just (a) don’t overly rely too much on any of it and (b) see them all as useful tools rather than having any intrinsic meaning in themselves, in a status symbol or one-up-personship kind of way.

Doing something useful with your life counts. Going shopping because you’re bored doesn’t. Yes, by all means go shopping, but see what you do as counting or not counting, being real or not being real, having real value or not, being of some benefit or not. This does not mean throwing in the towel and going off to some fly-infested swamp to work with the locals and catch malaria—although that in itself would count, but you don’t have to go to quite those extremes to make your life meaningful.

I guess the Rule means focusing on what is important, to you in your life, and making positive changes to ensure you feel happy with what you are dedicating your life to (see Rule 6). This doesn’t mean long-term plans mapped out to the smallest detail. It means knowing, roughly, where you are going and what you are doing. Awake rather than asleep. A fellow author, Tim Freke, calls it "lucid living"*—a perfect term for what we are talking about.

There are some things in this life that are important and a whole lot of things that aren’t. It doesn’t take too much discrimination to work out which are which. And there are a whole lot more things that don’t count, aren’t really important, to choose from. I’m not saying we can’t have trivia in our lives—we can and it’s fine. Just don’t go mistaking the trivia for what is really important. Having time for loved ones and friends is important, watching the latest reality show isn’t. Repaying a debt is important, what brand of washing detergent you use isn’t. Nurturing our children and teaching them real values is important, dressing them in designer fashion isn’t. You get the idea. Think about what you do that counts—and do more of it.

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