A study room setup with table chair and a wall clock, few books and a plant kept above the table

What Matters Most In Life? 6 Key Aspects That Shape Your Reality

Key Takeaways

  • Investing time wisely and focusing on personal growth can significantly impact your sense of fulfillment and happiness.
  • Maintaining physical and mental health is foundational for pursuing passions and enjoying life's moments fully.
  • Deep, meaningful relationships, alongside aligning actions with your values and seeking purpose, shape a well-lived, meaningful life.

Have you taken a moment and asked yourself, "What truly matters in life?" It's a question that has puzzled humans since the very beginning of consciousness, leading to countless philosophical debates, and religious teachings, and prompting us to rethink our daily choices. While the answer might differ from person to person, there are certain universal themes that will resonate with many of us. 

Forget about the materialistic pursuits for a minute. Think deeper—about the experiences, the relationships, the personal growth, and the legacy we leave behind. We'll look into the importance of time, health, relationships, happiness, values, and purpose. These aspects of our lives could very well redefine the way we perceive our lives and the choices we make every day.

6 Key Elements That Shape Your Essence

A wall clock hanging in a living room above sofa, depicting time matters


Consider this: while money can fluctuate and material possessions come and go, time is the one element of life that once spent, is gone forever. It's more valuable than the best treasures on earth. Yet, how often do we find ourselves taking for granted as if it's an endless resource? The key here lies not in trying to control it but in mastering how we use time.

"The way we spend our time defines who we are" - Jonathan Estrin

A simple yet effective approach is to do something I call myself a 'time audit' of your day. Keep track of how you spend your hours over a week. You'll be surprised at how much of it might be wasted on activities that don't align with your core values or long-term goals. Imagine reallocating even a fraction of that time towards self-improvement, learning a new skill, or simply enjoying a hobby that makes you happy. The compound effect over time can be life-changing.


It’s often said that health is wealth, and for good reason. Our ability to enjoy life's moments, pursue our goals, and connect with our loved ones is significantly influenced by our physical and mental well-being. Neglecting either can lead to a life that feels unfulfilled, no matter the achievements or material success one might have. Balancing nutritional eating, regular exercise, and mental wellness practices should be your focus to live a well-rounded life.

A holistic approach to health encompasses more than just the body. Mental health, often overlooked, is just as important. Adding to your routine, daily practices such as mindfulness, meditation, or simply journaling can help in maintaining a healthy mind.

A study by the American Psychological Association highlighted the link between physical exercise and mental well-being, showing that movement not only strengthens the body but also fortifies the mind against stress and depression.


Have you ever noticed how a simple chat with a good friend can turn a bad day around? Or how spending quality time with family can help you recharge to face life's challenges with more resilience? This isn't by chance. Being connected to and with friends and family nourishes our soul, offering us a sense of belonging and security. It's the relationships we forge and maintain that often bring the deepest fulfillment, far beyond any material gain.

The value of relationships isn't just anecdotal; it's scientifically backed. A study by Harvard University, spanning over 80 years, found that more than fame or financial success, it was strong relationships that were the best predictors of happiness and health. It’s clear, then, that investing in our relationships is not just a matter of heart—it's a matter of health!

So, how can we cultivate these bonds?

  • It begins with making time for those who matter most. In the digital era of always being online, genuine face-to-face interactions are becoming rarer. Yet, it's these personal, unplugged experiences that build these strong connections.
  • Acting with kindness, expressing gratitude, and offering support during tough times are also important. Remember, a person becomes ten times more attractive not by their looks but by their kindness, love, respect, and honesty.
A new dad playing with his little one sharing happiness and joy

Happiness and Joy

Let's face it, pursuing happiness can sometimes feel like chasing after the wind—elusive and fleeting. However, happiness isn't always about the big achievements or life-changing moments. More often, it's found in the journey, the small everyday pleasures, and the realization that the importance of play increases with age. Yes, you heard that right. As adults, embracing our inner child and playfulness can significantly improve our well-being.

But how do we cultivate happiness in our daily lives?

  • It starts with gratitude. Acknowledging and appreciating what we have, rather than fixating on what we lack, can shift our mindset towards a more positive outlook.
  • Another key element is connection—not just superficial interactions, but deep, meaningful relationships that bring joy and richness into our lives.
  • Setting aside time for activities that bring us fulfillment, whether it be a hobby, learning a new skill, or simply delving into a good book, can cheer up our spirits.

It's the act of engaging in these activities with wholeheartedness and presence that brings about true happiness. Research from the fields of psychology and neuroscience indicates that happiness is deeply intertwined with our actions, attitudes, and the connections we nurture. For instance, acts of kindness have been shown to boost our own happiness levels, creating a virtuous cycle of positivity.

A man speaking with his boss about his work, standing up for his values

Your Values

At its core, knowing what matters most in life often circles back to a simple, yet profound concept: your values. These personal principles influence our decisions, shape our behavior, and define the legacy we aim to leave behind.

Identifying your core values isn't an exercise in self-indulgence; it's a key step towards living a life that's true to yourself. It's about understanding what drives you, what you stand for, and what you won't compromise on. Whether it's integrity, compassion, courage, or creativity, these values are what will make you go through life's ups and downs.

A reflective practice to understand your values involves quiet introspection—think about the moments when you felt most fulfilled or proud. What were you doing? Who were you with? These instances often highlight the values you were honoring. Other times, they come into sharp focus during life's challenges, acting as ways to guide you through tough decisions.

Once identified, living in alignment with your values requires deliberate action. This might mean making tough choices that go against the expected or standing up for what you believe in, even when it's uncomfortable. It’s the day-to-day actions, those consistent choices, that make you feel good on the inside and also reflect what you truly value on the outside.

"Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny." - Mahatma Gandhi

Purpose and Meaning

Finding your purpose is about understanding why you get up in the morning, what fuels your passion, and how you can contribute to the world in a way that aligns with your values and brings satisfaction. Purpose gives our lives direction and makes going through life's ups and downs a bit more bearable. It gives us a sense of meaning that extends beyond our personal needs and desires.

Finding your purpose isn't always a straightforward answer. It often requires deep reflection, experimentation, and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone. Yet, the journey toward purpose can profoundly transform how you live, work, and connect with others. It's about utilizing your talents and passions in a way that resonates with your inner self.

"Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'." - Viktor Frankl

Start by asking yourself what matters most to you, what causes you're passionate about, and how you enjoy helping others. These answers can guide you towards activities and goals that feel meaningful. Welcome this exploration with an open heart and mind, and remember that purpose is not a destination, but a journey that evolves as you grow.

Final Thoughts

In this short exploration of what matters most in life, we've looked into the importance of time, health, relationships, happiness, values, and purpose. Each element offers its own unique contribution to a life well-lived, yet they're all interconnected.

By reflecting on these areas and taking steps to align your life with what you truly value, you invite a richness of experience that goes beyond the superficial. It's a journey of continuous growth, learning, and connection. Keep in mind that the beauty often of life lies not in having all the answers but in pursuing them with intention and heart.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I make more time for what matters most in life?

Prioritizing activities that align with your personal values and goals is key. Conduct a time audit to identify time sinks and reallocate that time towards meaningful activities, whether it’s personal growth, family, or hobbies.

What are some habits to improve my mental health?

Engaging in regular exercise, practicing mindfulness or meditation, ensuring proper rest, and connecting socially can greatly improve mental wellbeing. Consistency in these practices is crucial for long-term benefits.

How do I identify my core values?

Reflect on moments when you felt most fulfilled or when you made tough decisions. Those experiences often highlight your core values. Writing down these reflections can help clarify what values matter most to you.

Can finding purpose in life enhance my relationships?

Yes, finding purpose can provide a sense of direction and fulfillment that positively influences your interactions with others. It can enhance empathy, patience, and the capacity for deeper connections.

What simple daily practice can contribute to lasting happiness?

Practicing gratitude by acknowledging at least three things you’re thankful for each day can shift your focus from what’s lacking to what’s abundant in your life, fostering a lasting sense of happiness.