I spend (waste) a lot of time worrying–worrying about what was, what might have been, what should be, could be, will never be. I worry about the inevitable, the possible, the probable, and the unlikely. I worry about what people think and say and believe and how they feel. I worry about things that I cannot change, cannot know, and will never control.

When it comes down to it, there are very few things in life that really matter. What matters most–and always–is what’s real and right in front of you and yours to value and cherish and protect. What matters most are the people you love and the people who love you. Once you whittle your life down to the essence, suddenly everything becomes easier.

Most of us just want to feel loved, connected, valued, and understood. There are many roadblocks that derail us every day. There are very real problems such as illness, debt, and misfortune. We can’t simply dismiss our troubles. They won’t go away that easily.

But at the end of the day, if you are loved by someone, even if that someone is yourself, connected in some way, valued for who you are, and understood on some level, then you have achieved more than many will ever be lucky enough to realize.

Easier said than done, for sure. It is our nature to worry and regret and lament. Such a waste of time. There are so few things that really matter. Spend your time enjoying that which makes you the best person you can be. If you don’t have that in your life now, then I wish you well in finding it. If you do, and you’re still looking for more, then stop. Otherwise, you will get lost in the muck and forget to notice that what you have is really all you need.

Reach for the stars, but stay grounded in what makes you feel alive. Never take for granted that what surrounds you now will be there forever. Don’t overlook what you have in favor of looking for something better. Chances are that what you have is better than many people can ever imagine.