What really matters? Ask a Senior Citizen

What really matters in our life? What do we hold most dear when we look back on a lifetime of experiences, events, things, and people? In the end, what really counts?

I have talked about why money is only part of a satisfying retirement and how being overly focused on building a nest egg far beyond what you will need is a bad use of your resources and your life.

We have touched upon chasing what matters, the conscious pursuit of those things that add value to your day, bring a smile to your face, and enhance the quality of your retired life.

And we shared the importance of having a purpose in your retired life to give you good reason to get out of bed each morning and happily face the day in front of you.

I found a wonderful article this morning that I want to share because it shines a light on better understanding what is really most important.

Tom Abraham, a German photographer, asked two questions of a group of people between the ages of 64 and 98:

(1)  What really counts at the end of life?

(2)  What is materialism worth

With the information he gathered, he created a photo portfolio that shows each person with the object most important to them at the time the photo was taken. What they hold most dearly at that moment in their life. www.what-really-counts.com

Randomly selecting from the group, here is what some hold most dear:

  • A picture of her younger brother – Emilie, age 96 – “Memory is the only paradise I can’t be expelled from”
  • A doll named Gretchen – Edith, 76
  • An accordion – Manfred, 70
  • The flowers in her apartment – Hannelore, 80
  • Knitting – Irmgard, 84
  • A pencil – Lieselotte, 90 – “With a sharpened pencil, I record everything that was dictated and spoken for eternity”
  • A stuffed toy dog – Anita, 87 – a gift from her grandchildren

Outwardly insignificant items are most cherished by these seniors at this time in their lives. Family members and things with a history of the family are most common as it is not really the item but rather the significance it has to something from the past.

If you visit the site, you will quickly notice what is absent from the list of what really counts. No one is holding a picture of a mansion that they lived in, no one is holding up their checkbook with a big balance, no one is holding up a big fat diamond ring or a picture of their fancy car. The things that matter most at this stage in their lives are the little things, the simple personal items with a meaning deeply felt.

It is not too late for us all to learn from their example. There is no place for materialism in the end. What really matters is family, friends, love given and received. The most important things are the little things. Let’s hope that should someone repeat this study with us when we are in our 80s and 90s, what really counts for us will echo the sentiments of this group. It is much easier to hold a stuffed animal in your lap than a Ferrari. And in the end, the true worth is felt in your heart.

Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.

One thought on “What really matters? Ask a Senior Citizen

  1. What a tremendously powerful statement of what is important in life. The pictures say it all. There is nothing to add. Great thanks, Dave, for finding this gem.

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