What really matters in life? It all matters, actually, but as we work to learn and live and grow and develop into happy people, we discover that so many of the things we thought mattered to our well-being just do not feed our soul. For example, stuff, status, age, drama, perfection, invitations, and what other people think about us simply do not matter at all. When we are moving through life, gleaning enjoyment from earthly things, and blazing our own course toward a sense of fulfillment, we must work to feed our souls. Here is a short list of things that matter for our souls to survive, and thrive.
Cultivating and maintaining true compassionate friendship could quite possibly be the only thing that matters. Some of us have many friends, while others have just a few. And, it’s all good. The kinds of friendships that are the most meaningful are the “pick up where you left off” ones…the low-maintenance friends who simply know you but don’t necessarily have to be in touch with you every second of the day. They know who you are and what you stand for and will have your back no matter what happens. But even though true friendship can exist on crumbs, we must still continue to feed it. Friendship, like tending a garden or raising children, requires attention. It should be a two-way street. The honest, reciprocated, bond of friendship which exists in times of both feast and famine, is one of the key components to personal fulfillment.
Instead of concerning ourselves with what we have, it’s more important to find things to do, and places to go. Doing, seeing, exploring, finding, and experiencing the world is what matters. Meeting people, and seeking moments of wonder are what matter. Observing talent and artistry in others, and developing passions that take us outside of ourselves truly matters. The next time we are taking a lovely walk along a pristine trail with markings on trees that show us which way to go, what matters is that before we came to walk, someone saw the beauty and potential in that same trail, and thought it would be the perfect experience to share. Experiences and the creation of experiences matter.
It’s important to satisfy curiosity. We must strive to learn something new, and something truly surprising each day. Learning keeps us moving forward. Perhaps we learn a bit more about ourselves when we try something different or meet a new person. Looking under rocks ignites passion, and passion, in turn, ignites motivation and inspiration. If necessity is the mother of invention, then curiosity is her younger sister, our favorite auntie, who happens to be just a bit more fun and hip.
Music is the universal language and it speaks to our souls, all of our souls, in ways that are shared across age and gender. Music captures the imagination of all cultures. It outlasts and transcends time and space as it effortlessly crosses our collective human boundaries. It conjures the entire spectrum of human emotion. Music matters because it makes us feel, and feeling feeds our souls.
Nothing is better for the body, mind and soul than solid, consistent exercise. When a heart is beating and responding to a body that is alive and filled with joy, it keeps us young. Exercise, especially outdoors, is the key to lasting feelings of contentment because exercise, in any shape or form, is an accomplishment. Inactivity is often a precursor to depression, and while depression may strike us before the onset of inactivity (making it even tougher to fight), regular exercise works to combat these feelings. When we make exercise part of our day, the magnitude of our troubles often fall away.
When we have an opinion, we should share it. We should indeed argue our convictions in a clear, knowledgeable and concise manner. We can do this respectfully, of course. It is stimulating and liberating to state our case, and the reasons why we feel a certain way. Open dialog about important issues is exciting. It helps bring about the change we wish to see in the world. Engaging in debate helps us learn to agree to disagree and live peacefully with one another. The human way is to shut down, to believe what we believe, and close our doors to any different viewpoint. So while we need to stand up for what we believe in as much as our energy allows, we must also be open to humbling ourselves and changing our minds when it becomes obvious that we are wrong.
When we take pride in what we do, every negativity around the thought of having to make money to “stay alive” falls away. Having a work ethic is important. Caring about doing a good job matters, regardless of the job. Whether digging a ditch, or performing open heart surgery, taking pride in our work, in a job well done, is what keeps us working, but it also feeds our soul by building our self esteem. We all know when we’ve half-assed something and that, in turn, creates negative energy. Creating positive energy around the work we do in this world matters.
Family is the heartbeat of a life. A family is not always who we are directly related to, it can also be a group of friends. Or, maybe a family for some is a group of co-workers. A family simply forms when we are part of a team. Perhaps it forms when we do a particularly grilling sort of job, like fighting fires or police work. A family can be created during a time of crisis such as it is with people involved in military combat. Whether it is through blood relatives, people we work with side by side, or people who are just our group of friends, having a loving family offers the human connection and support that matters. Families teach us to compromise and to be kind. Support, compromise and kindness feeds us so that we can continue to grow.
Art is as polarizing as it is unifying. Since art is entirely subjective, we all view and experience pieces of art work differently. This is what is unique and good and right with the human experience. We are not born to be the same, we are born as individuals with different ways of seeing things. We each have a different way of doing things. Art has the power to strike our core like a bolt of lightening. When an artist does something so uniquely or sees something so differently from us, it changes us on the inside. Art fortifies the human experience. It changes us and that change feeds us more than anything else.
Innovative thinking changes the world. Original thought is what drives us forward. There are a million different ways to do and see things. As human beings, we are meant to use our own creativity and we must be willing to fail in order to succeed. True inventiveness comes when we have a great idea and continue to ask questions. Invention matters because it is the fruition of our encouraged imagination which comes directly from inspiration. Invention results from fully developed, soul-feeding ideas.
Often,we find that we can not move forward in our lives until we forgive ourselves for actions, biases, self harm, sabotage, neglect, and our own inner demons. We need to forgive and be forgiven for our transgressions. A heartfelt apology is usually the best way to forge a new path. Living our truth means that we have apologized to our self, and all the others we have hurt along the way. Forgiveness is crucial to inner peace, lasting fulfillment, and keeping an open heart.
To love and be loved is the crux of a happy, well-fed life. It is as simple as that. We are essentially in love with our feelings – feelings we have about people, places and things. When we forgive ourselves and other people, our kindness blankets our unique place within the world. When we experience something wonderful, like art or music, or simply walking in the woods, the tiny bud of love is formed within our souls. Our souls know what love feels like. When we are inspired and motivated by people, places, things, or our own exciting ideas, we fall in love with the world and everything it has to offer. When we can love our world, and all of its’ glorious potential for goodness, we become better people within it.
And that is what truly matters.