Commentary: What matters most for the holidays

Commentary: What matters most for the holidays

by MSgt. Erik V. Larson
Stripes Guam

“The good life is built with good relationships.” -  Robert J. Waldinger

In a recent leadership development forum at a deployed location, a high-ranking military leader stressed the importance of prioritizing our loved ones. However, he admitted he had not been the best at this in his own career. His comments highlight that if we are not intentional about prioritizing those closest to us, we could end up neglecting them. Our loved ones are often times the first ones taken for granted when we get busy.

Have you ever thought of the most important relationships in your life as a hassle? While no one enters a relationship wanting to make another person miserable, over the long run unfortunately, this outcome happens more often than not. To combat this, we need to be purposeful about putting our loved one’s needs and happiness before our own.

In fact, we should put effort into all our relationships. If you seriously consider it, building and nurturing relationships is the solution to most problems in life. The same military leader mentioned earlier stated that networking relationships aided most of the accomplishments in his career.

Relationships are such an important aspect of our lives; you would think everyone would prioritize them. According to the longest running study on adult development, long lasting health and happiness depends on the quality of our closest relationships. *1

However, a survey of people at the end of their life found that most people spend too much time at work and neglect relationships, leading to one of their greatest regrets. *2

To build and nurture relationships we need to communicate, be genuine, honest, and caring. We also need to celebrate diversity in our life so that we can gain different perspectives. However, it is impossible to avoid miscommunication, and it is often times difficult to express emotions. This is why being kind is so important and a key to healthy relationships. As the saying goes, “If you have nothing good to say, then don’t say it.”

In relationships it is always better to be kind than it is to be right. There will always be differences of opinion. Exerting our opinion as the only correct option will lead to contention. In every difference of opinion, there is a chance you could be wrong and the other person right, or both of you can be wrong.

Being kind means being open minded and flexible to other opinions. This does not mean we should let others win every argument. It means in the end being right does not matter if it turns a conversation into an argument. If you are always kind, you can never be wrong.

Our relationships, especially with our loved ones, are what matters most in life. Whether you are with your most important relationships or away from them this upcoming holiday season, I challenge you to examine your life and make them your highest priority, not just for the holidays but also for the rest of your life.

1. Harvard Study on Adult Development,
2. Regrets of the Dying, Bronnie Ware,


If you are interested in learning more about starting an intentional journey of personal development, check out my book Your Journey of Personal Development: Be inspired to reach for your highest potential, which is available on The book contains easy to use methods and strategies to improve all areas of your life. Included is a chapter about creating a deliberate and specific plan to focus your life’s purpose statement into great achievements in your life.

Subscribe to our Stripes Pacific newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, cultural information, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!

Follow us on social media!

Facebook: Stars and Stripes Pacific
Flipboard: Stars and Stripes Community Sites

Looking to travel while stationed abroad? Check out our other Pacific community sites!
Stripes Japan
Stripes Okinawa
Stripes Korea

Recommended Content

Around the Web