WHAT REALLY MATTERS
WHAT IS THE BIG STUFF VS. THE LITTLE STUFF?
This is only a core listing of some options for reminders of what to choose from and/or to tickle your brain to come up with other options as to what really matters to you. After the initial listing, then re-order the list in order of what is of most value to you.
DO FIRST WHAT IS OF REAL VALUE
One cannot really run one's life well until one knows what really matters. Without differentiating as to what really matters, one has nothing to direct one's life toward - so one will leave a random life and end up like the gradually boiling frog. Everything in life has a "multiplier" that we might call "a value measure. Our lives are better off if we, in a day, accomplish 2 items that have a value of 5 units to us (for a total of 10 units) than if we accomplish 5 items of a value of 1 unit to us (for a total of 5 units). If we shoot off our energy randomly, we will not hit many targets of value - and we will not live one-tenth or even one-hundredth of the life value that we could live. This is the whole premise behind Living The 80/20 Life, one of ease, grace, and lots of value and happiness. By being aware of this we can maximize happiness, as discussed in What Is Life About? - How To Maximize Happiness In Life.
WHAT MATTERS IS REALLY...
Some things "matter" to me, but are not really needed for happiness. The deepest sense of the word "matters" is based on what produces a big desired effect/benefit (or relief of a big undesired effect).
But one of the wisest learnings is that we often attribute value to things that don't really matter - they "matter" to us, but falsely. (See Creators Of Happiness, noting what doesn't create happiness!) Eliminating as many of those as possible allows one to free up energy and eliminate stress over what only appears to matter - and to redirect that energy to where there is a high payoff in what actually matters. (Decide What Really Matters.) And things that matter little to me should not take the place of what matters alot to me, in terms of the reality of an actual effect. (A simple point, but few seem to heed it! Many people hold onto what matters little, thinking that they must have it in order to be happy. Au contraire! Giving up what mattters little provides the opportunity for what matters alot.) Understanding this may have some value, but implementing it (acting on it) is what really matters: Follow the suggestions in Quick Implementation Of The 80/20 Rule. Of course, if something doesn't really matter and we can be clear about that, then we will not make ourselves unhappy when we don't have it or lose it. Philosophically we will know that some "losses" are just "give backs" of gains - and if we know what is gained is not really needed, then it certainly does not matter that we lost it - and we will experience zero stress about it. I cannot overemphasize the importance of this insight. I think that people MUST learn it in order to be happy and in order not to be unhappy (about these "missings"). Read Loss - Understand And Get Perspective For Happiness, and its companion piece What I Have For Sure.
THE PROCESS FOR DETERMING WHAT REALLY MATTERS FOR YOU
[Pretend that this is a conversation with the purpose of deciding what really matters to you. And that your objective would be to get really clear about this and then to lock it into your brain and your life by listing what matters in what order of value.]
What really matters for me is....
OK, I hear you say that _____ (blank) really matters. Why? What does that get you?
Well, what it gets me is _____.
What does that get you?
When you can no longer continue to have an answer to the last question, you have reached the "end-point", what you really want.
And then you can decide what you will do to get to that endpoint, so that you don't get stuck on the way points. [This is a similar idea to not eating the menu, not mistaking the pretty pictures (the symbols) for the actual food. And you will stay hungry (in life) if you do not eat (live) what is of substance. See below: Things That Look Like They Matter.]
We get stuck in thinking the "in order tos" are the objectives. That confusion is a source of great unhappiness.
People will say that the purpose of life is growth. So they continually attempt to grow, often making it a struggle. But growth is "the means" of getting to the true objective. It is not the objective. It is just an "in order to". The purpose of it all is "to be happy", not "to grow". To be happy is the reason for living. Growth that leads to that is the means to happiness, but growth that doesn't lead to happiness is not a valid means!
People will often fail to see that results = the value of something times the % we control of getting that something. If I "spend" my "life money" on going for something of a value of 10 units but I only have partial control over getting it so that I get it only 20% of the time, then I am averaging over time about 2 units every time I try for that. Alternatively, I could even "settle for less" by going for something of a value of 5 units but which I have 90% control over causing it to happen, then I average 4.5 units for each effort. And I am more than 2 times better off in life.
Getting approval from others is a good example of a low payoff activity compared to the price paid, whereas learning to appreciate oneself has a high payoff for even a small effort. On average, we will do alot better doing that high value (of this thing that really matters) activity than doing the low net value activity. And I would estimate that the activity of trying to get value from others may actually produce a negative net result. But even if it doesn't produce a net negative, it does displace your getting a much higher payoff by using the same amount of effort in directly satisfying and loving yourself. Indeed, the happiest people are not dependent on others for getting what they want in life. They are self-sufficient, and realize that the extras they get from others is strictily a bonus (dessert), but not the main course. I love the process that Stephen Covey advocates in The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People. In implementing the habits, he has us moving from "dependence" to "independence", but not stopping there, as he increases our effectiveness by our utilizing healthy "interdependence", for the greater good of us all, in a synergistic (2 + 2 = 5) manner.
THINGS THAT LOOK LIKE THEY MATTER
We decide as a child, that it is good to be "good", thinking that we're really in jeopardy if we're not approved of, because if our parents don't feed us we won't survive. And we are, at that time, powerless and dependent on them.
Later in life, many people are still seeking that approval, although it we have broadened the concept a bit into seeking the "feeling of being loved" - and having that mean that we are safe and will survive. We wire it that approval by others means we are loved and therefore we will survive. It becomes a system unto itself. If we're not approved of, it stabs us as if it really mattered for our survival, which it doesn't, anymore! Yes, if we get it, we feel better. But the whole process, if we look more deeply, is more of a source of unhappiness. And on top of that, it is a process that we can't really control, so we allow ourselves to be dependent on the approval coming from a source we can't control - and, of course, that provides a basis for anxiety, as a consistently occurring source of stress and tension.
Those people who make it into a "must" will live lives of great anxiety, controlled by whether or not they'll be approved of. And, of course, this often morphs into the general idea of being "good enough" (to be loved, approved of, etc.).
These are all things that lead to something else ("in order tos") but we forget that and we think the symbol is what it is that makes us happy. We think we "need" love, and if we are not loved per the script that we made up that has all the fanasies in it then we are unhappy. No wonder there are few happy relationships....
But what is of value is what gives us the most benefit...
WHAT REALLY MATTERS
Happiness and things that support it
What we choose to value (which is integrally connected with happiness!)
ALL ELSE IS WHAT DOESN'T REALLY MATTER
If you don't have a passion for achieving your own happiness as your top priority, you have some wires crossed, and are confusing the way-points with the end goal...
I want to make the world a better place. That's what is known as a mission, a purpose, a direction to head for.
If you make it a goal, then you are assuring yourself of always being short (usually by a big gap) and always being unsatisfied.
If you want to self-confident
If you want to be powerful, not stressed,
The road to hell: going for what is unachievable and faulting yourself for being short of it.
Unrealistic expectations of oneself or of life: always being "short", "not enough", unsatisfied. Living a life of what's missing.
Not making mistakes, never disappointing anyone,
Being "good enough"
And then we set it up so that we create fear around these. I must do a perfect job or people won't approve of me, or I will have blown the whole thing or I will have blown my credibility and power to achieve what I want.
Like a child, expecting fantasyland, and then faulting oneself for being less, creating oneself thinking you are powerless because you are dependent on others or getting unachievable results or "musts"
THE "TRADE-UP" TRADE-OFF ZONE
Nothing exists on its own. You move one part of the whole and something else shifts.
A good example is the stuckness some people have around the sacrifices toward having a good career. It is true that we should not do this to such as extreme that we are harming ourselves. But to go to the foolish extreme of "don't do what The Man does" or "money is the root of evil" does not work and it misses the whole point.
Doing an excellent job of learning those skills that will have you create more money for your time has a huge payoff in that it creates the gift of freeing up time for you to do what really matter.
The important lesson here is not to see things in black and white (or in "fixed" terms) but to intelligently trade-off values, where you deem the cost (or price) to be far less than the benefit. Essentially, you would follow the key principle in Living The 80/20 Life - and more than quadruple what you can get out of life.
THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS - UNCONDITIONALITY
I'll be happy if
I'll be happy when (really just another version of "if", just one that seems to be time dependent, but with no real endpoint in time being specified, another vague "goal", another vague "condition" to reach in order to be happy.)
Those are all conditions and statements of "I won't be happy until I ..."