On Things That Matter The Most

Maslow, Hierarchy, priorities


“How are you feeling today? Are you satisfied with the status of your life? Are you happy?”

As of the moment, the questions above are the most difficult ones to answer for me. And I see no difference with everyone else around me asking the same questions to themselves. HAPPINESS is a very vague word that varies from one person to another. It cannot be measured. It cannot be substantiated in one form.

That’s why many of us would try to do many things all at the same time. It’s not bad. It’s a normal “human-being” thing. What isn’t normal though is when we forget to give importance on the things that really matter the most. How to find out what is it that “matters the most” in a person’s life lies in his present situation.

If you are a student, your priority is to finish your studies, not necessarily to excel, but to finish and LEARN something.

If you a working professional with no family of your own, your priority is to save money.

If you are a settled and financially stable individual, your next goal probably is to have a partner in life.

If you are a mom or a dad, your priority is the welfare of your kids and not just your own selfish happiness.

You see? Different stages of life mean different set of priorities. I am not saying that if you are a working individual, you should not travel the world and pursue your passion! Or if you are a daddy of five kids, you should not go skydiving and out-of-town vacations anymore. What I was trying to convey is that YOUR LIFE IS DIFFERENT NOW. You have to embrace the reality and live in it.

The problem most of us face is that we tend to live in our fantasies and frustrations before, that we neglect the value of the things we have now. These are the things that we only once dreamt of having before. This will become a cycle until we can never be fully satisfied with anything anymore — because we never appreciated the present.

I remember in our Philosophy class our professor discussed about the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This simple pyramid changed my perspective in life. It says that you cannot go higher to the next level unless you fulfilled the previous one below first.

Maslow, hierarchy, self-actualization
Photo Credit: Brilliant Nurse

Referring to the picture above (not my personal opinion), you will see that the house you just bought is useless if the persons living inside it don’t have a good health. You could have had the most astonishing modern Mediterranean style house in the neighborhood yet you cannot go outside because of a contagious disease, for instance.

This house also doesn’t make any sense if you don’t have anything to eat or water to drink inside. Physiological needs are far more important than safety. Food and water should never be compromised with the beauty of your home. Just like a song says, “a house is not a home, when no one’s living there.”

One more significant observation, this is the major trend that is circulating around the internet nowadays. People post their achievements on Facebook. They brag about the number of international and local destinations that they have traveled. They write “highly-intellectual” comments in response to the critical social and political issues for them to look educated, in contrary to the “should-have-been” healthy exchange of opinions. These people possess Confidence Level 999.

They always wanted to look right, to be heard, and to be noticed.

They forget how it is to be kind, passionate, and respectful to fellow men.

They forget the values their family had taught and instilled to them.

Worst case, they even forget that right back there in their homes, they have families waiting for them. Kids still awake late at night waiting for the return of their dad who has been so busy with his social life. And a wife longing for their hugs and kisses.

I stumbled upon an inspiring video in Youtube today. This video is so powerful it will make you think twice of your decisions and realign your priorities that were bent by your own selfish desires.

A passage in the bible tells us that THERE IS A TIME FOR EVERYTHING (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). This further tells us in another way that nothing is permanent, and is a proof to a popular statement that “everything changes”.

Why? You see when you were just a kid, all you ever think of is what to play and what to do to make you happy. When you were in the corporate world, you are working so hard to be promoted. And now that you have a family, you should know for a fact that your children are not forever kids. Five or ten years from now they will grow up and will eventually hug or kiss you less, and tell you their secrets not so often like before because by that time they would have had their circle of friends already.

My friend, I’m here to tell you it’s never too late to reconstruct your priorities. Having a clear and defined set of priorities makes our lives easy and worry free. It shapes our future. It leaves our marks to the generation that is behind us. It defines who we are.

“First, I was dying to finish high school and start college.
And then, I was dying to finish college and start working.
And then, I was dying to marry and have children.
And then, I was dying for my children to grow old enough for school.
And then, I was dying to retire.
And now, I am dying…
and suddenly, I realize I forgot to live…”

By: Anonymous (Submitted to Chicken Soup by Nicole Zablocki)