We live in a world packed with material possessions. We are encouraged to chase these things, day after day, year after year. Our needs never seem to end. So we keep running. But what really matters here?
We run after bigger television sets, newer smartphones, and better cars. We run after job promotions and luxurious accommodations. We tend to think that more money in our bank accounts will translate into happier lives. While offline and online shopping can bring us short term satisfaction, it rarely matters in the long run.
Well then, what really matters in life? This article shows you what matters in life and how to find the things that matter most.
This article is part of a much bigger guide on learning how to become happy that I’m sure is the biggest freely available guide on the internet right now. This article contains some great tips, but you’ll find a lot more actionable tips in the section Happiness Tips!
What really matters in life
The wise do not chase after materialistic items. More clothes, smarter gadgets, bigger cars, and luxurious houses can make our lives convenient, but do these things bring us long-lasting happiness?
What really matters in life is happiness itself. Happiness comes from having a purpose in life, loving and accepting oneself and others, and maintaining good health and relationships. Without these, you will always end up feeling unfulfilled.
Here are a few scientific studies conducted on this topic to help you understand better.
Research on the impact of relationships on life
An adult development study by Harvard on the lives of more than 700 people was conducted for over 75 years. The participants were divided into two groups – one with participants who finished college and the other with participants from poor neighborhoods. Their personal and professional lives, as well as their health and relationships, were studied.
While most people thought that money and fame made for a happier life, the research showed something different. It was good relationships that had a more positive impact on life. It’s not about having a big circle of friends or several relationships. It’s about having meaningful relationships. Quality over quantity.
In the words of Professor Robert Waldinger, the director of the study:
“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.”
Psychiatrist George Vaillant, one of the earlier researchers of the study, had indicated the same in his own words:
“The key to healthy aging is relationships, relationships, relationships.”
Research on the purpose of life
A study by the researchers of the Harvard School of Public Health found that when people have a high sense of purpose or direction in life, they tend to remain healthier in life. The study wanted to prove if having a purpose in life helps people to live longer and better.
The researchers tracked the data in 2006 and 2010 from a national study of participants over 50 years old. Physical and psychological examinations of their health were conducted, including walking speed, grip test, and a questionnaire to measure their sense of purpose.
The results showed that the participants with a higher sense of purpose had a reduced risk of developing weaker grip and slower speed.
Several other studies have also proven that having a purposeful life translates to having a lower risk of stroke, disability, and other health issues.
What matters in life and why
1. Purpose in life
Purpose gives us the “why” of our life. It is the reason why we do what we do. It is the reason for our actions, our work and our relationships. Our lives revolve around this purpose. It gives our life meaning – a meaning which matters in life.
However, do not panic if you struggle to find your purpose. We have all been in that place. I remember when I did, I asked myself three questions:
- Why do I get up?
- What do I want?
- What do I not want?
These questions have helped me find my purpose in life. It helped me discover what really matters to me. You can also ask yourself these questions that can serve you as guidance. Whenever you feel like you are losing track of your life and yourself, you can always go back to these questions. Just remember to be honest with yourself.
2. Good relationships
Relationships are important. The positive kind, of course. In a busy world like ours, we often think that we don’t have a lot of time to give to our family or friends.
Even worse, we take it all for granted and postpone it for later, while we prioritize our work.
However, your family, friends, and loved ones are part of what makes your life happier.
I remember the happiest memories of my life revolve around spending time with my family, especially my sister. She has always been there for me through thick and thin.
Good relationships really matter. You need to nurture these relationships with the attention, love, and care that they deserve.
Here are a few ways to do that:
- Spend time with people who support and encourage you.
- Replace the time you spend on your phone or TV with real people.
- Do things with your loved ones to strengthen your relationship with them.
- Reach out to old friends and relatives and connect with your colleagues.
Spend time with positive people and watch how it changes your life for the better.
3. Good health
Health is probably one of the most important things that we tend to take for granted. We don’t eat right, we sleep poorly, and we don’t treasure our bodies. But health matters – both our physical health and mental health.
Be kind to yourself, your mind and your body. A lot of people are not so lucky to have a healthy body, so keep it nourished and nurtured. Every time I neglected my health and overworked myself, I ended up being miserable and stressed. You don’t want that for yourself.
Always prioritize your health. Improve your lifestyle. Eat healthily and drink plenty of water. Get out and talk to people. Visit the doctor for regular check-ups. Treat your health as if it is crucial, because it really is.
4. Love and acceptance
Accepting and loving yourself matters. When you completely embrace yourself and nurture your well-being and growth, you’ll start to see the positive effect it has on your life. A positive view of yourself leads to a positive view of the world.
If you are unable to love yourself, you will be unable to love others too. There was a time in my life when I criticized everything I did and thought that my life fell apart because of how I am. I disliked myself. Not long after, I started distancing myself from people. It was after I learned how to love myself that I could love and care for others.
How did I do that?
- I accepted my flaws and recognized my strengths.
- I forgave myself when I made a mistake, but I also held myself accountable.
- I spent time with those I loved and asked for help when I needed it.
- I stayed positive as much as I could and let go of anger and grudges.
- I made healthier choices and tracked my growth and progress.
In short, I started to love myself again, and so can you. Take time to discover your true self and embrace it.
So, what really matters in life?
A healthy balance of purpose, relationships, health, and love really matters. These continue to be the most precious elements of our lives.
If you want to know more about how to have a happier life, take a look at this article on the five pillars of happiness. The faster you realize what truly matters in life, the closer you get to having a life filled with happiness.