Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

10 Ways to Remember What Really Counts

“Begin each day with the blueprint of your deepest values FIRMLY in mind then when challenges come, make decisions BASED on those values.” – Steven Covey

In recent years, shocks have jolted me wide awake.  In those unsettled moments, days, and weeks, a raw clarity permeated my being, exposing what really counts.

You too have probably been shaken by dramatic events: the death of a loved one, an unexpected separation from a spouse or close friend, a natural disaster, the termination of your work.

After lightning personally strikes us, we often promise to never forget, to never be the same or fall into our old ways.

But isn’t the dilemma staying awake?

As strongly as these events may have touched us, time seems to own the power to gradually wash their intense yet essential impressions away.  Delusion – confusing our projections for reality – ambles along diluted by not entirely dissolved.

So how do we remember what really counts in this fast-paced world dominated by material distraction and the illusion of getting ahead?  How do we resist the lure of our own tumble of habitual thoughts and emotions that brings us suffering again and again?

10 Ways to Remember What Really Counts

1.  When a flash of clarity strikes, write down your insights in a special journal. Then read them again and again.

2.  Live your new found insight by making a life change.  Tammy Strobel discovered that material possessions didn’t bring her happiness so she radically simplified her life and wrote a guidebook to help others find happiness too.

3. Listen to uplifting audios or watch inspiring videos regularly.  Doing so will help you to sustain a wider perspective and not get caught up in your own miscellaneous woes.  Start with these inspirational gems and then create your own collection.

4.  Write a personal mission statement or manifesto.  Then post it prominently where you will see it each day.  Here’s a simple exercise to help you get started.

5.  Explore the power of making a personal vow.  It sounds old fashioned, but taking a vow constitutes a clear way to make a strong commitment to yourself.

6.  Schedule regular periods of silence, stillness, and solitude.   Use the quiet to tune into yourself and see if you are on track.

7.  Reflect on impermanence.  What if you only had six months to live?  Your priorities might be quite different. The silliness of our obsessions tends to melt away when we remember the fragility of this existence.  Let the remembrance of impermanence help you stay focused on what really matters.

8.  Make a public commitment on your blog.  After spending eight months in South America, Satya Colombo returned to America with a different perspective from a different world.  To maintain the clarity of his fresh perspective, he made a strong resolution to fight for what really matters and published it on his blog.

9.  Learn to meditate.  Mindfulness is the key to remembering what really counts and making the right choice in every moment.  You can learn the basics of meditation in this free online video course or start the new year by diving into this 6-session online course What Meditation Really Is.  Meditation has been shown to reduce blood pressure, boost immunity, reduce anxiety and make for more ease, happiness and joy.  But more important than any of these personal and practical benefits, meditation will shift the entire way you perceive the world.

10.  Surround yourself with like-minded friends.  Actively associate with people who will encourage, inspire, and support you to live life on purpose.

It’s easy to get caught in the flow of mundane life.  Staying awake and making deliberate choices requires fierce determination, a clear-headed plan, and a tool box of reminders.

How do you remember to stay awake?

Thank you so much for reading and sharing.  If you found this article inspiring, please subscribe for free updates by email.  With love,  Sandra



A Simple Way to Feel Happier, Healthier, and More Optimistic


Words In Focus: November


  1. Wonderful list. I have several times in my life had the clarity that I needed to live a meaningful life, with the values that mean the most to me, but I forget. I already meditate, use mindfulness, etc… but need a more powerful tool. I think I’ll start a practice of reviewing my guiding principles ( manifesto ) on a weekly basis. Using this and daily mindfulness should help greatly.

    Dan @ ZenPresence

  2. This is a great list, Sandra. One thing I do is to try to remember to pause and breathe throughout the day, like a mini-meditation. It really helps when I am caught up in the daily stuff. I really like #5, making a personal vow. In my novels, my characters are always making vows, but I rarely do in my own life, which is an interesting thing to ponder.

    • Charlottte,

      The “pause and breathe” is so powerful for bringing us back to ourselves! Thanks for reminding us. Your characters know the power of a vow, don’t they!

  3. jean sampson

    Hi Sandra—-thanks for the wonderful videos!
    I use my on-line contacts with several absolutely amazing people (you are one of them!) to keep my focus on what is important. I also continually tune in to gratitude, which seems to keep me in the present and positive. Writing poetry and painting also brings me joy and keeps me awake. I also continue to ask myself if I am being my truest self (thank you, Joy). I also ask myself if I am living, right now, in the most loving place I can be. And I hold my cat, who seems to have all of what is important figured out! 🙂

    • Hi Jean,

      Those are all incredible skillful means that could be added to this list! Thanks for these creative additions. Asking questions is such an effective way to work with ourselves. I love that idea too. Cats have their special ways, don’t they?

  4. THanks for sharing this post Sandra! One of my favorites because I realize I’m striving to really do all the things you mention. I like the personal manifesto idea and was just thinking about it the other day. What if we wrote a life motto or mission statement and lived by that? ON the top of my daily list would be generosity, compassion and introspection. Businesses have a personal mission and stick to it – why can’t we as well? May help us live a more focused life.

    I especially liked this post because of the simplicity, and the useful/practical links you included.

    • I like your take on this so much, Vishnu. A personal mission statement does so much to just cut through the distractions and keep us focused on what’s really true! Thanks for the nice feedback on the post too.

  5. All of the things you have listed are very important, but I actually think number two is the hardest for a lot of people, including me at times. When you have an insight and a breakthrough it creates space. We have to fill that space with a different more positive belief or with a change in our habits or else we just slip right back into our old ways. The spirit moves like a river, just as the physical moves around us. It might even work to move some furniture around as a reminder of your breakthrough. Proclaim a new outlook and move something around or have a burning ceremony. Move, swim, burn, build, write, anything to keep the momentum going. Breakthroughs with no action go nowhere, change wants movement. Anyway – that has been my experience with it.

    • This is a really interesting point, Nicole. This is probably the tripping point that holds us back – not actually making an distinguishable change when the space prevents itself. I think you are right – then the old habits just fall back in. I loved the idea of moving furniture around as a physical reminder. So simple, but yet this could be so effective. Thanks for your insights and contributions. They add a lot to the conversation.

  6. As others have noted, a great list indeed. I’ve found in the past few years that reading inspiring stories and wisdom literature helps me stay focused, in addition to the practices on your list. I always have one or two books by my bed to read from at the beginning and the end of the day. And I have a few favorite quotes or reminders on little cards taped in places I’m sure to see frequently.

    • Those are great suggestions, Galen. I love reading wisdom literature too. They are always nearby. It’s so wonderful to see my list expanded with these helpful suggestions!

  7. Thank you for this wonderful list of reminders. For me, making a personal vow to myself has been most powerful in directing my life and every day actions. No matter what happens, the vow is like the sun always overhead in the distance, and I just keep moving in that direction.

    Meditation, silence, and periods of stillness help me stay on path and summon inner strength.

    I especially loved the videos. Took my breath away. Thanks for sharing.

    • What a beautiful metaphor, Debbie: “like the sun always overhead in the distance…” The vivid image illustrates how strongly a personal vow works for you. You’ve accomplished so much in recent years, which shows us clearly how well this action might work for us too. Thanks for sharing your personal method for staying on track with what counts.

  8. I found that exercise retains my focus. Exercise is also a natural way to increase your energy level, alertness and concentration.

    If your life feels out of balance, you’re feeling stressed out, or you’re running on adrenaline you can choose to incorporate activities into your day that will break that cycle. Like, learning a new sport or a new dance.

    Great post Sandra!

    • Hi Patricia, Exercise is really essential to staying on track although it’s not easy for me! Thanks for underscoring all its benefits with such enthusiasm.

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