When saving the best for last is helpful — and when it isn’t

Being present is important for happiness and health. Here's how to get there

Alliah Czarielle avatar

by Alliah Czarielle |

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“Save the best for last” has been one of my major life philosophies since childhood.

Growing up, I’d hoard beautiful pens, colored pencil sets, and other art materials. I’d use the cheap ones first while keeping the best ones in a drawer.

I have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, so I tend to forget about things I don’t see for a while. I’d forget about the art materials I’d kept, and years would pass before I’d rediscover them. At best, I’d be surprised to find them still usable. More often, though, I’d find them dry and deteriorated. How disappointing!

The same went for pretty clothes and accessories. As a young teen, I didn’t go out much, so I didn’t have many opportunities to use the outfits and accessories people gave me.

That said, it wouldn’t be unusual for me to find tarnished jewelry pieces sitting in a corner of my closet, never having seen the light of day. (Surely at some point they were sparkly, weren’t they?)

Now and then, I’d find brand-new clothes — tags completely intact — in my closet. Never used, never worn. But by the time I’d discovered them, they’d gone out of style.

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Weighing the pros and cons

Now that I’m older, I’m starting to weigh the pros and cons of this “saving the best for last” mentality. As with most things in life, I don’t think of it as completely good or bad. I simply find this mindset to be useful in some scenarios, and maladaptive in others.

On one hand, saving for the future is a source of comfort. I’ve been through moments of financial instability and can attest to how stressful having zero savings can be. It’s as if I could never find peace in the present because I was always thinking about how I would survive the next day.

Scarcity is a fact of life in the Philippines, where I live. Salaries are low, yet the standard of living is quite high. We pay high premiums just to maintain good health. Health insurance is not accessible to all, nor does it cover all of the important aspects of healthcare. On top of it all, medications are ridiculously expensive, if not entirely unavailable. This is my husband Jared’s experience, as he must depend solely upon donations from developed countries for his factor IX supply, which he needs to treat his severe hemophilia B.

Saving the best for last makes sense in this case, due to our factor supply being so scarce. From a young age, Filipino hemophiliacs are taught to not “waste factor” on bleeds that can heal naturally, albeit over a much longer time. In Jared’s case, these might include large bruises, external injuries that don’t involve deep cuts, and minor muscle bleeds that don’t affect his mobility too much.

But when it comes to enjoying pleasurable experiences or making use of material things that could bring one joy, saving the best for last no longer applies. My approach today is to enjoy things now, while I still can. I savor them before time passes.

There’s no shortage of Stoic philosophers arguing the idea that happiness is fleeting. Moments of sheer luck, joy, and pleasure come and go. Meanwhile, moments of misfortune, sadness, and strife also occur now and then. It’s just the natural order of things.

A new capacity for gratitude

Adopting this new mindset of savoring good things in the present has unlocked within me a new capacity for gratitude. I’ve also found myself more capable of thwarting anxiety stemming from irrational thoughts about the future and the possibilities it may hold.

Recently, in the midst of bad weather and a respiratory bug I’m fighting, I found myself randomly appreciating the fact that Jared is bleed-free and ambulatory. I also felt grateful for a certain beautiful moment in which Jared and I were quietly watching our daughter play a coloring game on her phone. We were both fully present. I was still sick, but I saw it as merely a small annoyance in the grand scheme of things.

In the past, being even the slightest bit ill would have made me miserable. At worst, it may even have triggered a whole slew of anxieties regarding my health and my future capacity to take care of my family.

I would have wanted to wait for this “bad” situation to pass before I felt like I could be happy.

Now, I am at peace, knowing that the “bad” sensations from being ill and the depressing outside weather will pass eventually. But so will the tiny moments of joy and beauty occurring at the same time.

Why not choose to focus on the best things about the present moment and appreciate them fully?

Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


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