Lesson 3- If you Get the Big Stuff Wrong, the Small Stuff Doesn’t Matter

German Grandma is celebrating
German Grandma is celebrating


Virtually everyone in Europe rides a bike and walks.  Their culture is built around an active lifestyle with a heavy public investment in the infrastructure to support it.  They combine this lifestyle with universal healthcare and moderate portions.

In short, people take care of themselves.

These are all big reasons why on a continent full of ridiculously awesome bakeries, you rarely see fat people. It’s funny to think about, because you know what else you rarely see?

An empty ashtray.

The place has fit and thin people, a rich history, and a blind spot to the number one cause of preventable death.  Cigarette machines litter every corner and everyone from teens to old women suck down heaters with reckless abandon.  The smoking infrastructure and enthusiasm in Europe is outrageous.

It makes me wonder what obvious thing I may be missing in my life.  What is my blind spot and how can I check it?  What would a tourist to my life say after two weeks with me?

Would they say I am consistently treating the things I say I care about, with care?
Would they know my focus or my morals?
Would they want to meet my God?

A good starting point to this type of self-reflection is to first monitor our time.  Even more so than money, where we spend our time reveals our true focus.  People love to talk about “quality time” with the kids, but it is a lie.  Your kids need quantity time.  That is the real goal.  Same with your wife and same with your God.

Spend some time this week thinking about your focus by monitoring your time.  I know I will.  Only through diligence self-reflection can we become our best selves and fulfill God’s plan for our lives.


Note: this column is part three of a series called “Clarity Purchased with Euros” that chronicles the life lessons the author picked up in two weeks in Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

Clarity Purchased with Euros:

Lesson 1 – Teamwork Trumps All
Lesson 2 – Your Past Doesn’t Have to Define Your Future

Posted by

Christian. Father. Hawkeye. Male pattern baldness survivor.

3 thoughts on “Lesson 3- If you Get the Big Stuff Wrong, the Small Stuff Doesn’t Matter

  1. I don’t know what your reference is for the smoking, but compared to the USA, Europe is not that different. 18% of the American adults are smokers, quite near the EU27 average of 23%. And as to the fatness – again, compared to the Americans Europeans may be thinner, but Germany, for example, has plenty of fat people. Don’t know what conclusions you will draw from this, but I’d say paying close attention to your reference frame is vital.

  2. Thanks for your comments and for reading.

    Three things to consider. First you appear to be taking me to task for drawing conclusions anecdotally, but then you do the same by telling me about your observations of fat Germans. I am not sure who is correct, only in what I saw.

    Secondly, I’d add that 18% vs 23% in terms of smoking rates (your numbers) is a statistically signifcant difference. I doubt anyone would argue that a 24% higher incidence is not a big deal.

    Third, it’s an analogy for a blog. Not a white paper on smoking.

    1. I think “virtually everyone in Europe rides a bike and walks” is a gross generalization, that is just incorrect. Same goes for “fit and thin people” – more than half of the adult population in the European Union are overweight or obese. That’s a statistic anyone can look up.

      As to the smoking rates – these vary in the EU between 14% in Sweden to 32% in Greece. Saying “everyone from teens to old women suck down heaters with reckless abandon” is just not true and I think it tells more about your perceptions and prejudices than your observations.

      Are you consistently treating the things you say you care about, with care? Doesn’t look like it, on the face of it.

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