I’ve written a lot about simplifying our lives from excessive material and mental clutter. But in the spirit of even simplifying my many blog posts, I decided to summarize key life goals in one post. Actually, for those with a short attention span, I could even summarize the 5 Goals into just the first one – LOVE. As short as the word Love is, however, it’s probably the most expansive and difficult goal, so I hope the other 4 put flesh on how to love more fully.

1. Love people more than things
Of course focusing on loving people is foundational to our human lives, yet it is also very challenging. It’s hard enough to always love my family and friends, much less those who are far away, different from me, disagree with me, or even feel like enemies. Add to this the challenge of consumerism – hoping that buying more stuff will bring more joy is a tempting but false love. The challenge is to include loving humanity as one of the necessities of life in addition to food, clothing, and shelter. Then the other pulls of life like feeling important, enjoying creature comforts, etc. are nice and welcome but not the top priority.

2. Do Justice
Related to loving people (myself included) is acting on that love in our often unequal world. It’s frequently harder to love those who live far away, don’t look like me, live in poverty, are mean, etc. Life is not always fair, but for those of us who are blessed with enough stuff, physical health, healthy relationships, it is only right that we seek how to make our world fair for others. I don’t have to solve all world problems, but I must seek what is mine to do to make this world more just for all.

3. Care for Creation
OK, so we love other humans, but none of us would survive without plants, animals, water, even rocks and minerals under the ground. The more the people on planet earth multiply and advance technologically, the more pollution threatens our health. To love people means caring for the earth we live on.

4. Tune your Spiritual Life
But being physically alive has little meaning without tending to our Spirit. For me this means taking time to reflect and pray about the source of life I call God. You may have a different word for religion, faith, spirituality, but taking time to ponder the meaning of life, the universe, whatever, gives depth to the Why of life.

5. Be Brave but Humble
To tend to all of the above takes courage and sometimes risk. To stand up for those who have less or are in danger can put me in danger. But even worse is to spend my life in search of being important. We must be brave enough to risk not being liked because we stood by a person in need, but not take pride in doing it.

These 5 goals are pretty ambitious and not meant to be a tool for self-flagellation, but rather ongoing principles to move towards. It’s a direction to guide our lives, not a test.