What really matters?


What really matters in life? We all hear this a lot. True.

I’m sure most of us could rattle off an extensive list of what really matters to us. Ultimately, it would boil down to a very small number of things. Family, happiness, and…..well, happiness.

It is so easy to get sucked into things which often sit on the circumference of what really matters. Think about the people and relationships in our life. Why is it that we sometimes treat them worse than complete strangers….. because we know they will always be there. Well, hopefully. This is quite telling and also really stupid. It tells me that people don’t really know what matters or even who matters. Now, let’s think about arguments we have with people. This includes colleagues, friends or family. The real reason the confrontation surfaced often gets lost, and you start fighting about other things. Things that have no connection or relationship to how the initial argument started in the first place. Vexing!

We need to make time for what matters. This requires a lot of effort and awareness. It is all about closing the chasm on what we know we should be doing against what we need to do more of.

This also applies to learning too. We should be asking our students this question every day. “What learning today meant something to you?” I wonder what responses we would get if we asked the students that at the end of each day. Let us make no assumptions about what they would say. Imagine the natural inquiry to extend and explore on the learning that mattered to them. Spending time on something they are on the edge of knowing to help construct their own meaning about learning.

Alright, now I need to bring this posting back to the center. The real purpose and motivation for sharing this points to human interactions more than learning (even though there is an obvious connection to learning). If people could focus on the things that really matter all of the time, our interactions and dealings with others would improve dramatically. If people dump problems, concerns, dilemmas or issues on you challenge it in a way that asks, does this really matter?  At what point did things turn sour and what triggered it? People need to find alternative ways to communicate on what is really happening without judgment or ego. Be very clear about making a choice on what is at the center and focus on the ‘one thing’ that needs to be addressed. Stick with it until there is a resolution or a conclusion. Don’t get pulled into the things that end up making us feel overwhelmed or inadequate, either indirectly or directly. A lot of what other people dump on us often says a whole lot more about them, than it does us. Step back, take a breath and take stock of the things that deserve your attention right now. I challenge anyone who is reading this to try it for just one day. Observe any noticeable change in how you feel and/or make others feel too in the process. Challenge people to be better and have the same expectation for yourself. What really matters?


  1. Munira

    This post is based so much on what happens in most peoples lives everyday. We spend so much time worrying about the little things in life, put in so much effort focusing on smaller issues that do not even matter, while the bigger more important ones as well as the more important people are left on the side lines watching us fumble with the small stuff. There will always be those that feel the need to dump their problems on you. It is up to us to filter out who is important, what part of their problem is for us to help them solve and most importantly what part of their problem is theirs to filter (important or not important). What really matters is making and doing the things you want to do for those they are intended for and not wasting time trying to please those who will never get you or what you have to offer, no matter how hard you are trying.
    Ego- it is like when you have dust in your eyes. Without clearing that dust, you will never see anything clearly.
    For me, I believe conflict is a state of mind. It is like a powerful virus that breeds and multiplies, infecting all that comes its way. Yet, conflict is also completely helpless too because it can be put out by just one simple thought- does this really matter?
    Know what really matters to you. Do what you can for the people that you love and care for. Those that you know will be there for you any day, and at any time. As long as these people are happy and healthy, everything else is just sprinkles on the sundae. Life really is so much brighter when we focus on what really matters 🙂

  2. Angie

    What really matters – great questions and one that gets lost a lot of the time, unfortunately. If we all focused on what really matters we would all be a lot better off . I believe if we brought it back to the basics, love, happiness, compassion, kindness, support, respect for each other, the world, and ourselves we would be much better balanced. I think the Ego plays a major roll, and many people are driven by the ego, the scariest part of that is that they are not even aware of it ! How can someone improve their connection with others when they are not even aware of the lack of connection with themselves ….?!?

    I believe people who get ‘off track’ with the initial issue and start to bring in other issues, which may be related or maybe not, have allowed their Ego to enter… By asking the question ‘what really matters’ bruises their Ego and away they go…. Grasping at anything and everything they can to try and justifiy themselves rather than overcoming the Ego and staying ‘on track’ to resolve the issue at hand and move on. They are to busy feeding their Ego, many without realising it, and have lost sight of the initial issue.

    The is an Old saying ” If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive” approach people with the intent to understand them, not condemn or criticise them. Let’s work together, not against each other. This way we can learn and grow together and remind each other of what really matters .

  3. Vicki

    November 19th, 2014 – 4PM

    8)Respect for others

    All the above I believe what really matters in Life!

    Everyone will have different priorities but it really boils down to feeling contentment in your Life! I believe this can not be truly achieved unless we all experience Love and we become mindful of our environment and to show tolerance and patience to one another.
    To gain happiness involves so much in our daily lives we all need to feel Loved to experience human contact like touch,as it can be such a powerful tool. Everyone needs to feel worthy now this can be achieved in various ways such as through education, sport, charity work the list goes on.
    It is such a shame that we can not be all grateful for what we have instead of yearning for bigger and better. Now in saying that we still need to achieve and try the best to our ability that has been instilled in us since the beginning of time.

    Just think about when you have been the happiest I think it may surprise you. I truly believe a heartfelt giggle with someone you love or even an acquaintance you will never forget! Being around small children their innocence and how they see things will make your heart swell! these little events in life are so special and always remain in our memory bank.

    Unfortunately our lives have become so busy and filled up with activities and schedules that we are not enjoying some of these precious moments in the now! as we are always thinking about what we have to do or where we have to be therefore taking away the joys of everyday living.

    Ego! a little ego can be healthy it makes us push ourselves to our limits its about your self belief. An example of the high achievers such as Prime ministers they need ego to survive in their chosen career. But too much ego can be detrimental in our work place as it can create envy in others but also the person in a certain position can then become selfish and therefore not be prepared to share their knowledge as they want all the acknowlegement and recognition and can find it difficult to work in a team environment which is such a pity as we not only need to work as a team at work but also in our family life.
    The problem with an egotistical person they may not handle rejection or failure very well as their usually not considerate to the people around them who have supported and helped them as their focus has only been on oneself.

    We must also acknowledge that knowledge is paramount as it makes life more interesting without scholars we would not be able to discover new things to learn about the world we live in. To be able to cure diseases to make life better for the sick and suffering who need it the list is endless so we must not lose sight of this as well.
    I really believe it is about creating a Balance in our lives I think we have gone a bit out of wack! yes its exciting social media and all the modern technologies we enjoy these days but we musn’t lose sight of one of our most important tools and that is Communication! we need to look people in the eye to actively listen to whoever we are speaking to otherwise we shall lose our identities we will become void of all emotion and feelings what a sad state of affairs that would be.
    Whenever you go overseas to a country where the people do not understand your language there can be great joy in trying to communicate with a person as you have to look them in the eyes and watch their body language it is so much more liberating than pressing an App on your phone to talk the language, lets not take all the fun and experience away from our lives there is nothing more endearing than receiving a hug from a stranger if you have done a nice deed.

    The sad fact is that most people do not realise what is really important in life until they become ill or they lose a love one. When this happens their priorities change with great haste and if you ever have the chance to speak to anyone during their last stages of life as I have in palliative care the majority say I wish I had spent more quality time with my family and friends and less time at work. They also become aware of all the silly things that they use to stress about and will say those things are of no significance now.

    So its up to everyone to find their own contentment to embrace life like there is no tomorrow, To discover the uniqueness and good in whoever you meet. Enjoy this Beautiful world around us.and show compassion and to help those less fortunate then yourself and I guarantee you will have a truly wonderful day!

  4. Pratty

    When I was a young boy, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said HAPPY! The teacher then told me I didn’t understand the task and I told the teacher she didn’t understand life.

  5. Marc

    A truly wealthy life is not one filled with money alone. Money is just one colour of the rainbow of a wealthy life; we need the other colours to get the full rainbow. When all these colours pass through the prism of life our life is made whole, just like the colours of the rainbow combine to give white light.


    Without peace, our life can never be fulfilling. What use would all the money, the most beautiful body, prestigious work and loads of time be if we do not have the peace to enjoy it. So, it is important that whatever we do in life, we should make sure that our peace of mind would not be destroyed and for that a spiritual perspective is very important.

    Happiness, true happiness, is an inner quality. It is a state of mind. If your mind is at peace, you are happy. If your mind is at peace, but you have nothing else, you can be happy. If you have everything the world can give – pleasure, possessions, power – but lack peace of mind, you can never be happy. – Dada Vaswani


    Values are the things that we believe to be right and wrong. We can get our values from our environment, parents, or from the scriptures. No matter where we get them from, they influence our life to a great deal. A life built on correct values would lead us to a fulfilling life and a life built on incorrect values would make us stumble often. The job that you do in life should reflect your values. You cannot go wrong if you follow what Ellen DeGeneres has to say on values:

    Here are the values that I stand for: honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values.


    As we live, we give to the world around us. There is no way you can escape that. You can give for the good and peace of the world or for the opposite, but you have to give. If you live in a way so that you contribute to increase the good and peace in the world, you will feel fulfilled and wealthy. The work that you do should make you feel that you are contributing to the world around you. As Anthony Robbins put it:

    It is not what we get. But who we become, what we contribute… that gives meaning to our lives.


    The Divine says in The Bhagavad Gita,

    Perform your prescribed duty, for action is better than inaction. A man cannot even keep up his physical body without work.

    We all have to work every moment of our life, even if we do not have what we call a formal job. The work that we do should be aligned with our values. It should give us joy and we should be eager to do it. The amount of work that we do should be balanced, neither too much nor too little. We should also not be attached to our work or job. If it goes away, we should view it as an opportunity to do something better. Offering everything we do to the Divine is the best work of all.


    Time is eternal. Our body is not eternal. We have to die someday and the death-clock is ticking way from the moment we are born. So it is important that we make the best use of our time: to spend enough time with our family and friends, to do things that you believe are worthwhile and live in the present moment and remember the Divine.

    Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.- Carl Sandberg


    To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.- The Buddha

    Health is extremely important. A healthy body breeds a healthy mind and a healthy mind breeds a healthy soul. Although many seers have overcome physical sickness, if we have a strong and healthy body, it makes our life a lot more easier. So eat well, sleep well and work well and you will be on the way.


    Money is obviously important. Money is not the only thing but it is important to have enough money so that you are financially free. Financially free does not mean you are extremely rich. It means that your expenses are greater than your passive income from investments and therefore you do not need to work for a living. This frees up time to do the things you love, to spend time with the people you want to be with and spend more time in silence and with the Divine. We need to know when we have had enough and then let go. As Greg Easterbrook put it:

    Everyone needs a certain amount of money. Beyond that, we pursue money because we know how to obtain it. We don’t necessarily know how to obtain happiness.

    There you go, that is the rainbow of the wealthy life.

  6. concentricthinking

    We read a small chapter out of “don’t sweat the small stuff.” It talked about asking ourselves if whatever is going on will it be important in 12 months from now. Often the answer is a flat out, “no!” It talked about playing a game called time warp. Before getting pulled into whatever is happening, keep asking yourself will this be important in 12 months time. I guess it all comes back to awareness and being mindful of having this very set disciplined mind.The timing of reading this and the natural connection of the main theme in this posting was perfect timing. So what I have I been doing this week? I have been playing time warp. It is simplifies everything. Our interactions, our own connection to situations, our attachment and/or non-attachment to things, what we prioritize in life and the most important one, is our own internal happiness and mental health. Thank you to those who took the time to share your thoughts and ideas! I’m going to get back to my time warp now!

  7. ann

    I have to agree that happiness is directly related to family and friendships. I don’t know why folks get so caught up in drama and forget about those that love them unconditionally. Despite all of the ways we are able to connect with people these days, honest communication is often difficult to do … probably because it sometimes hurts. Where there is honesty and trust, there can be lasting friendships, no matter the distance. But this can’t happen if individuals don’t have inner peace and happiness because happiness starts from within.

  8. Vicki

    Ann I think you are spot on! We all have to be responsible for our own inner happiness! also we should not blame others for our misgivings and take some responsibility ourselves. The same goes if we become ill we cannot do anything about that but we can control how we deal with it in our minds and therefore give us some control over our illness.

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