"Take care!" “OK! ‘Bye!" And two friends part company. How many times has someone ordered you to ‘take care’ this past week? You have no idea, because you, like all of us, don't pay any attention to it, do you? ‘Take care!’ What's the alternative? ‘Make a mess of yourself'? I can hear it now, “Hey, Dude! Why don't you run yourself ragged and drive yourself into the ground?" I know: that sounds really stupid. But, if people really meant it when they suggested that you take care of yourself, it'd only be because - to put it bluntly - most times, you don't, do you?
You know what you need to do, don't you? You've read the papers and the magazines. You watch the news. There's not much new about ‘taking care’ of yourself, is there? What is it they all say? Eat right and exercise. “So how's that working out for you?" as Dr. Phil is so fond of saying. Alright, maybe you do stick to the healthy foods, and maybe your gym membership isn't gathering dust in some drawer somewhere. Is that all there is to ‘taking care’ of yourself? Hardly. That would be way too easy!
Next comes your income. How are you providing for yourself and your family? Is your income adequate? Is your job fulfilling, or soul-sucking? How's your savings and investment situation? Nice and healthy? Are you and your family adequately insured? Are you ready for any eventuality? How about your estate planning: is it all in order? If not, what are you doing about it? If so, give yourself a gold star! But, don't think you're anywhere near done yet.
How are you ‘taking care’ of your family and friends? I don't mean financially, either. How active a role do you have in their lives? Are you the ‘social maven’ or the one who's dragged along to social events not of your own choosing? How's your communication coming along? Are you the person whom your family and friends call upon to listen because they can count on your sympathetic ear? How well do you play? Are you the fun person whom your family and friends would most choose to be around? Yes? No? Maybe? But wait . . . there's more!
What kind of influence do you exercise on those around you? Do people look up to you as a woman or man of wisdom? Are you the ‘go-to’ person whom people can trust to deliver what you promise? Does your personal integrity ‘magnetize’ people to you and allow them to look up to you as an example? How's your reputation doing these days? How's your ‘bill of health’ looking now? And, there's more . . . lots more!
What will be your real legacy when you're gone? How well have done in actualizing your potential? Will your having been here made a difference? What have you done? What will you leave behind? What have you created that wasn't here before you? What are you building? How well have you fulfilled the ‘promise’ that people recognized in you when you were young? How well have you discerned your destiny? Do you know why you're here? How well have you done towards fulfilling the purpose of your life? Are you making a difference? What's driving you from the core of your being? What's your relationship with your Higher Power like (however you may define it for yourself)? Are you spiritually energized, or do you experience a secret emptiness inside (at those rare moments when you allow yourself to look there)?
Maybe you thought that diet and exercise would be enough to ‘take care’ of yourself. Maybe you thought all the rest of it would somehow manage by itself. It can't. It won't. It needs your attention. It requires your active involvement in your own life. That's what I mean when I say that you need ‘balance': it's a way of life, not just some illusory and boring scheduling routine. Part of your responsibility to yourself, to your family, to your friends, your community, your world is to take good care of yourself, without leaving anything important out. So, for now, just let me say, “So long, Dude!" Oh, and, by the way, “Take care!!!"
H. Les Brown, MA, CFCC
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Copyright © 2008 H. Les Brown