Making a list of the most important areas in life is easy. Finding the single thing that matters most – if we can only have one – is hard.
Be happy. That’s what everyone says. And if you try to figure out what makes you happy, you’ll probably have a list covering various aspects of life such as good relationships, financial security, etc.
But do any of them really make you happier on their own? Not really. Quite often, it is more a case of when you need one but don’t have enough, it leads to some sort of misery or suffering.
It seems we need a nicely balanced amount of many key ingredients to keep us happy. We know they’re all important in their own way. But it is difficult to focus on all of them in our daily lives. In fact, it can be quite overwhelming as there’s a constant trade-off to choose between one or another.
What would be useful is to have a clear plan to follow that helps juggle all the necessities of life and balances them to create happiness. Something simple we prioritize, that makes a positive impact, something we can consider to be the most important thing to focus on.
What Does Google Feel is Most Important?
It’s disappointing, but not surprising to see Google put a post from a career website among the top results for “what is the most important thing in life?”. It listed the usual:
It’s tough to pick one. At each stage in life, our happiness requires a different combination of these elements. And not having the right dose of any may make us unhappy. So, financial freedom has its place on the list too.
But which one matters most?
From a needs perspective, the one we need most at a particular point in time will be the most important.
As we know, money doesn’t buy happiness, but not having enough can make it a lot harder to be happy. Similarly, being healthy doesn’t make us jump with joy, but sickness can cause much sadness.
This is linked to the scarcity concept, where the things we have a lot of don’t seem to be as valuable, and what we don’t have tends to be a lot more important. In a way, this is obvious. And it’s not really what we’re trying to figure out when searching for the one thing that matters most to concentrate on.
What’s Important To Me Now, May Not Be Tomorrow Or To You
Another thing to consider – everything else being equal – is how the things that matter to each of us differ greatly. A lot depends on how old we are, our particular circumstances and what life experiences we’ve been through.
This ties in with how our needs and goals change throughout our lives. Apparently, in terms of our personality and values, we are very different every 10 years or so. This would suggest that our priorities in life changes as we mature. That makes sense.
With so many moving parts, it’s no wonder that people become increasingly lost in their search for happiness. There are so many needs to address and they’re constantly changing.
This is why it is vital to have a solid plan. A simple idea or strategy that is universally applicable for all stages of life and relevant to all walks of life.
Life Is Like a Rainbow
Some would say having meaningful purpose is the secret to happiness. Others feel that a sense of belonging and being valued is essential. Or it may be argued that love trumps them all to nourish the soul.
In a way, it is unproductive to try and pick one over another like this.
Perhaps it is how this question has been framed that makes it a pointless pursuit – its absoluteness, and that there is, and has to be, only one thing that is the most important.
Isn’t life supposed to be about a happy balance, about shades of gray, about compromise, individuality and accepting uncertainty? How then can we pick one color of the rainbow over another?
The Prism to Life’s Rainbow
Absolute thinking can be dangerous. The point of this exercise is to narrow down high level areas of significance – which all matter – into a simple, tangible, practical concept that can be put to good use daily.
It would be silly to try peeling colors from the rainbow. Instead, we are in search of the prism that transforms light into beautiful colors.
In a world that is bombarding us with an endless stream of stuff that’s essential to have, critical to know, valuable to own, and necessary to be, people need to have something clear to focus on.
Something they can understand, is relatively easy to do, can be done many times a day, feels good to do, brings joy to others, touches the world in a special way, and has a viral effect to ripple far and wide.
A Nutritious & Delicious Recipe For Life
In the end, the answer is quite simple. We need a good formula that unifies all the elements of life and allows each area to fluctuate and combine to produce a joyful end result.
Perhaps a food related analogy is useful. If there’s a single thing that matters most, it is to have a great recipe for life, one that blends the essential ingredients, in the right proportions to suit your time in life. If the goal of a recipe is to create a delicious meal, then having meaningful purpose is the recipe that combines love, health and all the other ingredients to create happiness.
But fancy recipes with exotic ingredients aren’t practical, so getting our life’s purpose right is vital. It should be realistic, achievable, doable, and something that is both nutritious and delicious.
A purposeful life can be multifaceted, ranging from loftier life goals to simple, meaningful things we can try to achieve every day. People normally think about their idyllic mission without giving enough attention to the basic building blocks that will pave the way to greater accomplishments.
In many ways, clarity about our daily purpose is equally, or possibly more important than the larger, more grandiose objective. This is probably the most important thing you can focus on. And if you’re in any doubt about what you should try to do or be each day, choose being kind. Always choose kindness.
Putting Meaningful Purpose Into Practice Everyday
A recipe that stays in the cookbook doesn’t fill stomachs. It needs to be put into action. In the same way, our meaningful purpose should be one that can put to good use every day.
If we drill right down, perhaps the most important thing we can do at each moment of our lives is to be aware of it and appreciate it. To cherish its presence and to be part of it. Perhaps it’s as simple as being mindful of each moment, being thankful for it and to do something kind with it.
So what’s the most important thing in life to focus on, that’s simple and easy to remember?
Be mindful of each moment, be grateful for it, and to do something kind with it.