What Matters Most?

"The things that matter most should never be at the mercy of the things that matter least." - Goethe

The problem with this statement is that most people can’t identify “the things that matter most.”  In my experience, we observe what is important to others and then attempt to align our lives accordingly.  It is not until we have some success with this strategy that we realize it was flawed in the first place.  We begin to fit the mold that we observed others striving for, and then realize that it was not what we had expected.  In fact, we become frustrated that we spent so much time and effort working to reach this point, that we become bitter and resentful.

This is because we have been living by a philosophy that is not our own.  We have adopted others philosophies without reflecting on if we agree with them or not.  It is difficult to identify a set of principles that we want to base our life on, so what do most of us do, copy somebody else.  It's much easier.

I am sure you can see the danger in this.

What do you believe?

This often occurs with religion.  We observe our parents or friends getting involved with a religious organization and we want to join them so that we can belong.  It is human nature to strive to belong to a group.  These are also people that we care about and trust, so we don't have any reservations about following their example.  However, do the principles and philosophy that this organization teaches genuinely align with you?  Did you take a step back and look at these beliefs objectively without the influence of your friends or family?  You are the only person that can be completely honest and objective about what is influencing you.

I am not saying I am against religion at all.  I am simply saying that it is important to understand why you believe what you do on a genuine level.  Do you believe it because it is the only thing that you have ever known or do you believe it because after educating yourself, this is what you connect with?

We all choose to believe something.  Even if you choose to believe in none of the traditional religions or philosophies, you still made a choice to believe in one set of ideas over another.

Actions vs. Values

Darren Hardy says in his book, The Compound Effect, that the majority of stress comes from the disconnect between our actions and our values.  We want to live one way but our actions often go in a different direction.  How do we connect what we want to do and what we actually do?  One of the major problems with this idea is that we have misidentified what our values are.  We have adopted the values and beliefs of someone else without ever putting in the effort to identify them for ourselves.  If we have these values clearly defined, then we know how to act in nearly every situation.  It removes the stress of having to decide all the time.  This is something that our brain naturally prefers.  We love automation.  If you can clearly identify what is important to you, then life becomes much simpler.

Here are some examples:

1) My family is my highest priority.  (Does your schedule reflect this?)

2) Money and prestige are not my priority. (Do your possessions reflect this?)

3) I accept myself for who I am. (What is your first thought when you look in the mirror?)

You can eliminate stress by aligning your actions with your values.  However, you must first identify the philosophy that will determine those values.

Why do you honestly believe what you believe? It is when you can confidently answer this question that "what matters most will never be at the mercy of what matters least."

Photo by Jimmy Dean

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