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How to Give Your Life More Meaning With What Matters to You

Author:

Glenn Stok studies how to apply self-awareness to pursue one's goals. He writes about it to help his readers achieve success.

Think about your values and what matters to you.

Think about your values and what matters to you.

You can improve your life by being mindful of your values and conscious of what matters to you.

Several things need your attention. I’ll review each one in-depth below. Feel free to skip ahead to anything that strikes a chord for you.

1. Consider Your True Values

What do you think you would do differently if you considered your true values? Do you know what you value most in life? Do you ever actually even think about that?

  • Are there things you have not done in your life that you really would like to have accomplished?
  • Is there a different path you may have taken if you didn't judge yourself?
  • Have you failed to accomplish something that may have made you very happy, but you held back for some reason?
  • Are you upset with the way your life has turned out because you wanted something different?

What was holding you back? Give some thought to this if you don't already know.

It's never too late to make changes. So think about it and be honest with yourself to be clear about your capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. But most of all, your values!

Make a list of your accomplishments in life. Analyze this list and find your strengths within it that you may not have realized you had. Without judgment, pick out your weaknesses as well. Then give some thought to it and determine if you can use those weaknesses in positive ways.

Finally, examine the list to determine why you hesitated to move forward with the desires that mattered most.

2. Live Your Life Based on Your Values

It helps to set goals based on the values you aspire to have. You’ll want to create an environment with those values at the forefront of your attention. Then you’ll want to live out those values daily.

It’s okay to regularly upgrade, expand, and refine those values based on lessons and experiences that alert you to required changes.

Every choice you make in life is related to your value system. You already have values you wish to live by, either by your choosing, or taught by your parents, or enlightened by others.

If you have consciously chosen values to follow that are important to you, then they are your own and are most important to you.

Values you acquired by other means may or may not represent who you really are. That may confuse your thinking, planning, and goal setting.

If you chose your values, respect them, and appreciate them. They will empower you to live the life you want to have.

3. Make Choices by Being Mindful of Your Future

I found that I made the worst decisions when I neglected to consider its significance with the development of my future. That requires an attitude of mindfulness.

When we are mindful of where our choices can take us, we make better decisions. It helps us focus on what we are doing with our lives and our relationships.

I think that’s the most significant factor in recognizing the value of what we have in our lives. Start by focusing on the present and what you already have. If it good? Does it have value to you? Does it have possibilities?

Sometimes we overlook the possibilities because they are not present at the moment. But no less real. Be mindful of possibilities!

Long term planning is vital to creating a desirable future. Everything we do can have a life-changing effect.

4. Learn From Your Lessons and Let Others Learn From Theirs

Sometimes we put a lot of effort into trying to fix other people’s problems. It could be best to apply that energy to ourselves and let others learn from their mistakes.

I’ve had many experiences where friends asked for advice, but never took it. In some cases, I wasted my time because they just wanted someone to justify the reason for their failure rather than point them in the right direction. The effort is better spent on your own matters.

As I go through life, I consider each failure a lesson for improvement. It can be applied for the advancement of our being, or ignored to the detriment of our future.

5. Consider the Long-Term Effect of Your Decisions

Long term planning is vital to creating a desirable future. Everything we do changes the outcome and can have a life-changing effect.

We do have control over our destiny. The careers we choose, the friends we socialize with, and even the books we read all affect where we are headed with our lives.

Don’t make decisions in haste, especially those that may have a life-changing effect on your future.

Consider your decisions carefully.

Consider your decisions carefully.

6. Think Out Loud to Solve Challenging Problems

Did you ever notice that you do a better job working out your problems when you talk about them with a friend?

Many times the friend doesn't need to provide any input. Instead, they listen without offering any advice or suggestions.

So you can do it on your own too. For example, if you need to work out a solution to a problem you're having, instead of thinking quietly about it in your head, try thinking out loud. That is, actually talk about it out loud even though you're alone.

That might sound silly, but I've done it. I imagine I'm talking to a friend to work my way through my thoughts. It helps with working out challenging problems. Try it.

7. Recall Positive Experiences to Build Self-Confidence

If you ever feel stuck with some task that is giving you difficulty, always remember that tomorrow is another day.

Sometimes it helps to take a step back and give yourself a break. Get a good night’s sleep. Then wake up with a positive attitude the next day.

You can do that by recalling the positive experiences you’ve had in your life. Those memories will help you acknowledge the ability you have for success. When you wake up, think about those things, so you start the day with a positive attitude.

That will also help create self-confidence and set the tone for an enjoyable new day.

Recalling positive experiences helps with self-confidence.

Recalling positive experiences helps with self-confidence.

8. Your Past Does Not Control You

We function as we do because we learned particular behavior from prior experiences. However, our past does not affect our life anymore except in the way that we allow it.

We process our feelings based on our past lessons, so we should be able to change how the past affects us by changing the way we think about it. We can control what our future has in store for us as long as we don’t sabotage it with memories of a toxic past.

You’ll never know when, suddenly, you do something that changes the course of your entire future. Every moment of every day, a little bit more of our future unravels itself.

By allowing yourself to be aware of what you can achieve in the future, you will make the best use of the present. So, think ahead with a positive attitude, not backward with regret.

9. Seek the Truth, but Ignore the Lies

People are not always trustworthy. We all know that. So it would be best if you considered what’s not apparent. That will help you see through the lies.

The truth is so easy to tell. It never changes. However, when people tell lies, they need to remember the lie. Otherwise, they might inadvertently say it differently the next time.

You will eventually catch them in a lie when you pay attention to detail. So remember to always seek the truth by focusing on the way people describe things, especially when it concerns your welfare.

10. Live for Pleasure, but Serve a Purpose Too

Ben Franklin wrote an essay in one of his newspapers, the Pennsylvania Gazette, on the value of one's life.1

He mathematically calculated that over one’s life, they have sacrificed tens of thousands of livestock, poultry, and fish for their own survival.

Then he asked if one had given back to society anything equal to that. He discussed how one might just live for pleasure and never serve any purpose.

Heavy stuff to think about, isn’t it? But try. It can help you feel better about yourself and your self-worth.

11. Be Aware of People’s Hidden Agendas

Some people might have a different agenda than what they represent to you, especially politicians. Try to be aware of that.

There's usually hidden meaning in what people do and say. Paying close attention to the difference between what people tell you and how they behave will enlighten you to what they might be up to for their own agenda.

That is what’s meant by the term “read between the lines.” Try to do that whenever things just don’t make sense. You might find the hidden meaning in people’s actions.

There could be hidden meaning in people’s actions.

There could be hidden meaning in people’s actions.

12. Always Be Dependable

One of the traits that I feel is most important is to show everyone that you are a dependable person. When I make a promise, I keep it. My friends will always know that when I say something is going to happen, it does.

Life is full of uncertainties, and keeping a promise can be difficult when conflicts arise. However, real friends who know that you are always dependable will understand and appreciate the reason for breaking a commitment when you have no choice.

A strong friendship is apparent when one can say "no" as easily as saying "yes." A true friend will respect why someone can’t join them in an activity due to conflicting schedules.

All this becomes easy when you are known to be a dependable person in general.

13. Search for Facts Before Justifying Beliefs

This last point might be a hard pill to swallow, so to speak. But well-worth noting if you’re up for it. It’s another thing I learned from Ben Franklin. In his book, The Art of Virtue, he explained that he never trusted human reasoning. He believed that it resulted in our need to justify our decisions based solely on beliefs.2

Once one justifies their behavior or decisions, they never search further for facts. That lack of the desire to seek the truth can be a reason to be doomed to failure.

So what do you do? Whenever making decisions, think hard about the chance that you might be overlooking critical factual details. You need to be honest with yourself, without defending beliefs.

In Conclusion

I hope the ideas I discussed have given you something to reflect on in a positive way. If just one little thing ends up having a significant impact on your life, your time reviewing these points will have been worth it. Just think of it as your value system.

References

  1. Benjamin Franklin. (Nov 18, 1736). "On The Waste of Time." Pennsylvania Gazette
  2. Benjamin Franklin. (Reprint edition: January 10, 2018). “The Art of Virtue” - Skyhorse Publishing

© 2018 Glenn Stok

Comments

Larry Slawson from North Carolina on October 31, 2018:

Thank you for sharing! Very helpful and meaningful list here.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 17, 2018:

Tessa - Everyone has their own method that works for them. The only thing that’s important is to know what the method is.

Tessa Schlesinger on September 17, 2018:

I would agree with them all except that I don't see the need to wake up positive. There was some research the other day that in order to accomplish things, extroverts need to be happy whereas introverts carry on regardless of mood.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 14, 2018:

Interesting point Heidi. Many things that seem simple are not always easy to maintain on an ongoing basis.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on September 14, 2018:

It seems so simple, yet we often struggle with living this way. Thanks for the great reminders!

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 13, 2018:

Good point Venkatachari. These rules can actually help bring success in life if used properly.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on September 13, 2018:

Very useful and instructive advice on one's self-development that can bring success in life. Thanks for sharing the tips.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 13, 2018:

Thanks Dora. The fifth point is an important one for me too. I’ve saved myself from being taken advantage of many times, by noticing when people can’t keep their story straight. It’s especially useful when talking with salespeople who are trying to sell you something.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 12, 2018:

Helpful and practical counsel. Number 5 sticks out as the one never to forget, but they're all important. Thank you.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 11, 2018:

That’s the most important one for me too, John. And you’re right, unforeseen circumstances can always get in the way. Short of that, I only agree to do something if I am mostly sure (okay - 99%) that I can keep my promise.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on September 11, 2018:

You have listed a commendable set of rules for living life here Glenn. I have my own similar set of rules/values. For instance, like you, I never promise anything unless I am 99% sure I can deliver (no one can be 100% certain because unforeseen situations sometimes occur.) Good job.

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