Do What Matters

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What matters most varies from person to person.

Often it’s our children. Our family. Our friends. Our faith.

We value our pets. Our homes. Our jobs. Our money. Our cars.

We’re passionate about our hobbies and interests. Our pursuit of fun. Adventure. Pleasure.

But what really counts?

I’ve been thinking about this for a couple weeks because of two things I read.

The first was this great blog post by Seth Godin, titled What kind of media counts?

In the post, Godin writes about how actors would rather be cast in low-rated cable television shows than appear in YouTube videos that will be seen by millions.

Godin writes about famous newspaper columnists that look down at bloggers—even though there are bloggers (like Godin, himself) with significantly more readers and impact than the columnists have.

He writes about how television didn’t count when radio ruled. How cable TV didn’t count when network sitcoms were all the rage.

His point? The definition of “what counts” will always change and evolve. And we need to think about which line we want to stand in.

The second thing I read that really has my wheels turning is James Altucher’s Choose Yourself.

Altucher might come off a little radical to some people. He’s anything but conventional. But as I read him, and I read some of the more “outrageous” or unconventional things he espouses, and then think about them, my initial reaction is never: “That guy is wrong.”

I always just nod.

This guy makes so much sense, it frightens me.

I brought it up a week ago today when I was losing it and wrote about some overdue library books I had at home.

I’m beginning to question so many things about my life. About how much it makes sense for me to go to work every day so I can just have enough money to pay for my house to sleep in, and my vehicle to get me to my job.

That’s it. A cycle of senseless suck.

It BEGS the question: Does any of this make sense?

Every day is one day closer to my death. Every day I’m running out of time.

The hourglass is always spilling from top to bottom. And if I knew I only had one week, or one month, or one year, or whatever to live, how would I choose to spend that time?

What Makes Us Happy?

I always cringe a little when I write about happiness. Especially after yesterday when I labeled feelings “bullshit.” I do not want to come off hypocritical, but I hope people can appreciate the distinction between how we feel about our human relationships versus our never-ending quest as human beings to pursue happiness.

Happy is just a word. It’s a word we use to describe a feeling. And it’s the feeling we have when things are going really well in our lives, or when we feel peace, or love, or pleasure, or fun, or some combination.

Our happiness is triggered by a variety of things and it varies greatly from person to person.

I’ve been asking myself a lot lately: What makes me happy?

I don’t have a comprehensive list. But here’s a brief overview:

1. I feel happy when I’m with my son and we’re getting along.

2. I feel happy when I’m with a woman who makes me feel loved and wanted.

3. I feel happy when I’m in good physical condition.

4. I feel happy when I am spiritually balanced—when I don’t feel dark and disconnected because I’m not living the way I believe I should.

5. I feel happy when I’m connected to friends and family. When I’m physically present with them, laughing and sharing moments.

6. I feel happy when I travel, exploring new places or revisiting places I love.

7. I feel happy when I do things for other people.

8. I feel happy when people appreciate and acknowledge the work I do—both here and professionally. It feels nice to have your efforts validated.

9. I feel happy when I have financial peace.

So, here’s the question: What really counts?

How important is my house? How important is my job?

Shouldn’t I ONLY spend my time pursuing the things on this list? Isn’t everything else meaningless and wasteful?

I don’t know. But I think it might be.

I think I waste a lot of time. I think I procrastinate. I think I rob myself of the joy of feeling happy by not taking small steps that will accomplish many of the things on this list.

I think I’m running out of time. I think that life is precious. I think that I want to be so much more than I am.

I want my life to have mattered. I want my life to be substantive. I want my life to be happy.

I’m chasing it. That dream.

We all are, really.

Do you feel stuck on the hamster wheel, like me? Just running in place all the time but never really getting anywhere?

What makes you happy?

Don’t you owe it to yourself and to the people you love to pursue those things? With vigor?

Of course you do.

Think. Pray. Feel. Love.

Choose yourself. Be grateful.

Find the best-possible you. Maybe help someone else find theirs.

This is your pursuit of happiness.

It happens once in a lifetime.

So please figure out what really matters to you.

Then make it count.

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35 thoughts on “Do What Matters

  1. mewhoami says:

    You are running out of time. We all are. This is a great post. We should focus on the things in life that really matter. Work is vital, as it provides us the means that are necessary to live, but it should never be made a top priority. Many people are so busy working to make money that they often neglect what really matters: their children, spouses, family and for those that have them – their friends.

    “You can’t take it with you.” Our money, cars and houses are great, but we can’t take them with us and they won’t matter 50 years from now. What will matter is how we have raised our children to succeed, the time we’ve spent with them and the memories we’ve made.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I have no idea what it looks like to ignore the noise and only concentrate on the really meaningful stuff.

      But, at the very least, I think it’s worth thinking about and striving for.

      Thank you for reading and caring.

      Like

  2. I needed this today. In the past week or so I find myself sliding into a kind of brain clutter that I try to avoid.

    Like

  3. Dear Matt,
    This post resonated the very core of me. Like sand through the hourglass these are the days of our lives sound familiar? It was the intro to the soap opera “Days Of Our Lives.”
    Parts of what you expressed reminded me of the movie Up In The Air starring George Clooney. He portrays a Motivational Speaker who makes reference to the importance society has of material items. He suggests imagining having a backpack. What would you put in your backpack? Your house, car…Would you be weighed down, would you be able to stand up straight and walk? The point is there is more to living our lives. Have you seen the bumper sticker “The one with the most toys wins”? That may be great although are those people happy within….
    Your Friend,
    Anastasia 😊

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Thank you. :)

      I spend so much time in a cubicle. I spend so much money paying to keep things in my house operating, doing regular maintenance for my house.

      At some point, sanity is going to have to prevail.

      I can’t, and won’t live like this much longer.

      It makes sense when there’s a family. But not now. Not anymore.

      The answers are out there. I’m going to keep searching for them.

      Like

      • Dear Matt,
        I admire your Strength & Conviction to recognize what is Important/Priority and to change what isn’t. For most change is not an easy process. Your writings Give Encouragement and Inspiration You Rock!
        Your Friend,
        Anastasia 😊

        Like

  4. jadedwildcat says:

    Okay so wow, this really struck a chord with me today and I don’t know how I’d have carried on with my evening had I not read it.
    A lot of it seems like obvious advice but, its so easy for us to forget it sometimes.
    Thanks for posting.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      :)

      I’m uncomfortable with the word “advice.”

      I don’t advise people. My life is a colossal train wreck.

      But I like to have these conversations “out loud” with myself with these posts.

      I’m almost always writing to myself.

      I’m the worst kind of person. A lot of times, I feel like I know right from wrong–little stuff and big stuff.

      And still I choose wrong.

      What’s worse than that?

      Exactly.

      Like

      • jadedwildcat says:

        Hah, well if that’s the case then I can probably relate. A lot.
        Sigh.

        I too am always writing to myself btw, and I usually end up marveling everyone else around me with how often I can turn the same stuff around in my brain, over and over and over. Stubborn mind and spirit I guess.

        Like

        • Matt says:

          It’s hard being an adult.

          No one told us. So, in addition to the shit, we have to deal with the shock too.

          If we all lift each other up a little, we may just win anyway.

          No sense in quitting. Not yet.

          I’m guilty of having typed this a couple times before. But it applies here. To you.

          Somewhere out there is something beautiful. The best thing that ever happened to you.

          And you’re on a collision course with it.

          May be tomorrow. May be three months from now. May be three years from now.

          But it’s coming.

          It’s going to find you whether you’re ready or not.

          So, be ready.

          Make yourself the best you possible, so when that awesome thing happens, you’ll be balanced, healthy, spiritually fit, and brave enough to accept it.

          And in the meantime, maybe smile a little bit.

          Because you might as well enjoy the anticipation of the best thing that’s ever happened to you heading your way.

          I like looking forward to good things.

          Hug yourself, miss. Good things are coming.

          Like

          • jadedwildcat says:

            Good God.
            You just quite honestly made tears stream down my face writing that to me…
            No other words right now.

            Thank you, sir. x

            Like

  5. Go, Matt! Go, Matt! I think this post resonated with me more than all your others, and that’s saying something. Just remember that when God closes a door, He opens a window. Although unemployment sucks, as does the long, slow slide into poverty that we are starting to experience, having been forced off that hamster wheel has allowed me to pursue several things that really matter to me – things that I could pursue only weakly, if at all, in my former life. I realize that financial pressures are bound to force me back onto the Habitrail sooner or later – later, I hope.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I wish I could say I had no idea what you’re talking about.

      But I’ve been there. I feel like I was less gracious about it than you’re being.

      Good for you for embracing all of the good things about not being caught up in the proverbial rat race.

      And thank you for the very kind words. I appreciate them very much.

      Like

  6. Matt, you have gathered a group of incredible souls here, which is a huge blessing above and beyond your messages. You are the uniting thread that ties these insightful, brave, kind people together. What a wonder that is. I am so grateful to have found my way here, because I am always uplifted not only by your words, but by your community.
    BB

    Like

    • Matt says:

      That’s so nice of you to say. People care about the stuff that matters. The inside stuff. And that’s mostly what we talk about here. An amazing group of people. Thank you for recognizing it and being a part of it. :)

      Like

  7. knace says:

    Your writing is your gift, and is in turn a gift to all of us who read it every day. It is obvious to me that THIS is what you should be doing with your life. Now all you have to do is figure out how to earn a living with it!

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I wish I knew what to say. I can’t think of a more satisfying existence than writing about things that matter and earning enough money to not be chained to a desk.

      I’m not sure what that looks like or how that happens. But it sounds wonderful.

      Thank you for saying you believe I’m capable of doing that.

      It means a lot. I appreciate your support immensely.

      Like

  8. The happy list. This is something I’m creating for myself today and what I’ve asked the hubs to do as well. Once again I love your posts. They seem to come at the right time. It’s like you are one step ahead of me.

    Finding one’s purpose. I get so impatient in trying to find mine. I swear I’m on that damn wheel, spinning for all eternity. One day I pray it will all make sense. I hope you find yours as well.

    Like

  9. I tried that this year. Well I kind of tried that but who do you REALLY go for it? With work, school, and all those things we “must” do day to day, it seems almost impossible I think.

    Something I really enjoy is spending time out in nature trails etc. especially with my kids. This year I did the hell out of that and I have no regrets.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      It’s a fair question.

      I think we do the best we can.

      If I didn’t have my son, I would most likely live somewhere else. I am “stuck” here because of him.

      Staying here for that kid is a choice I’ll make every day, forever. Regret-free.

      It’s not ideal. But it’s the hand I’ve been dealt. So, do the best I can.

      Some of our choices take other choices away. Then we prioritize.

      The thing that’s No. 1 on your list is, to some extent, out of your control right now.

      There’s nothing fair about that. And kind of makes everything else seem a little mehhhhhh.

      I’m just guessing.

      Like

      • True that. It’s like a sore foot. You can enjoy different things and even for a few seconds forget about it but it’s always there. When you focus on that pain it makes enjoying life difficult. The pain just takes over your life.

        I try to keep my mind occupied until I reach a point when the healing can begin.

        Like

        • Matt says:

          What little you’ve shared leaves me somewhat speechless. I don’t know how you do it.

          What scares me for you is the next phase. When everything’s either quiet, or chaotic because you’re parenting alone.

          It’s shocking. Please steel yourself. And surround yourself with people who care.

          Like

  10. theotherwoman97 says:

    This resonates so deeply; you’ve struck a chord with many people, this is great writing! Thanks for blogging!

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Ha. I appreciate that very much.

      I still can’t believe people read this stuff half the time. It’s such a blessing to write something and have people read it.

      But to actually have people feel things. And think about things because of words and ideas they find here?

      What a blessing. Thank you for taking the time to say something nice.

      Like

  11. prhmusic says:

    In the fall of 1991, when I was a senior in college, I did a semester of student teaching English at a high school. For various reasons, I never became a high school English teacher. I did a ‘shared journal’ with Tom, my cooperating teacher, during that semester. Tom wrote that he learned a lot about life by watching cats. Cats do what makes them happy. They don’t evaluate. They don’t procrastinate. They *do what matters*.

    Thanks for your words and keep writing.

    Like

  12. g13dr3 says:

    Hi Matt,
    I love the simplicity and honesty in your writing. Simplicity is genius. Honesty – makes want to read more. Both works together very much so :)

    Like

    • Matt says:

      This has been an important personal project for me. If it’s not honest, it’s pointless. I appreciate that you took time to check it out. And I’m flattered you liked it enough to say so. Thank you so much for that. :)

      Like

  13. dorothyemyers says:

    I’m not allowing time to read all the comments, so apologies if my comment repeats anything, and I’m commenting on this post instead of the one you posted today “The Close Calls” not to value one over the other, but for efficiency.

    Both posts bring up the cool but funky thing about being human, being stuck knowing we’re spinning our wheels, knowing it, but still stuck.

    But I like the way you say it (probably why people like reading your stuff, we like the way you say it, it’s fresh real funny generous) that though we’ll find ourselves stuck, still make the effort…and I like the list of what makes for more sustained happy, 1 thru 9.

    Like

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