How Can We Refocus on What Matters the Most?

In this article you won’t learn how to get rid of your favorite clothes in order to start living a minimalist life. Because, let’s be honest, that is not what matters most in life. What does matter is to be surrounded by caring people, to learn how best to care for our bodies while also enjoying the pleasures life has to offer, and to have goals that match who we really are (even if they don’t make sense to others!). Once these three key elements are in place, the rest will naturally fall into place. So, throughout this article, I will ask you real questions to help you to figure out who you really are, what you really want out of life and what are your next objectives. Let’s do it!

Cleaning up our personal relationships

Knowing how to surround ourselves with good people is fundamental. In order to achieve this goal, we sometimes need to do some cleaning up in our relationships. Even just talking about ‘cleaning up’ our friend circle or even our family members may sound very cruel and insensitive. However, we sometimes surround ourselves with people who drain all our energy or drag us down, without really being aware of it.

So, how can we make sure that we are surrounded by caring people? How can we tell if the people around us are there to help us grow, make us laugh, give us a hand when we need it or comfort us during difficult times? Every person around us plays a specific role in our life; we tend to call certain friends when we want to relax and other ones when we want to talk about problems in our personal life, for example.


When it comes to some of our friends or relatives, we know for a fact that their presence in our life is beneficial. Sometimes, though, we can have a conscious or unconscious feeling of uneasiness when it comes to our relationship with some people. Even without being able to pinpoint exactly why. In this case, it’s worth noting that that feeling of uneasiness alone is worth paying attention to. This feeling doesn’t come up if the relationship is healthy and fluid. 

In such cases, to clarify what we feel towards this person, we can ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Am I relaxed when I am around this person?
  • Does this person allow me to look at my issues objectively or do they try to convince me that their point of view is the correct one?
  • Do I feel that this person tries to influence me in a way that feels uncomfortable?
  • Do I feel overall better or worse after having spent time with this person?

Answering these questions will give us good insight into the kind of impact this person has on us. If, after answering these questions, we realize that the influence that this person has on us is either not very positive or even negative, we need to make the conscious choice of changing our relationship with them.

Depending on the type of relationship that we have with this person we can:

  • completely stop having a relationship with them,
  • set up some boundaries and not be as available to them,
  • or, if these two options are not possible (which can be the case with a family member, for example), we can protect ourselves mentally by being aware of their impact on us. In this case, we can remember that we don’t have to believe everything that they say and that we can decide whether or not to let them have any kind of influence on us. 

This exercise will help you be more aware of the good and the not so good aspects of your different relationships. With time, you will be able to surround yourself with people who have a positive impact on your life and you will learn from the relationships that are more challenging.

Listening to your body to optimize your health

In order to go back to what really matters, we need to get rid of what is superfluous. While if this idea seems obvious, it’s often difficult to put into practice. Of course it’s all a matter of balance: a balanced life is not a life without pleasure or without healthy routines. On the contrary, a life built on restrictions and deprivation can be more harmful, in the long run, than having bad habits. Because, as we know, a sad and frustrated mind is the enemy of a healthy body, and vice versa. Indeed, it’s all connected!

So, how do we create a healthy routine? Here again, nobody else but ourselves can know where our equilibrium lies. Instead of blindly starting a new diet – because we have heard that it’s the healthiest way of eating – we need to, first and foremost, learn to listen to our body and to our intuition. Clearly, no matter what our mind wants us to believe, we already know that we can eliminate from our diet anything that is too sweet, too salty or too fat as well as most pre-packaged foods. Other than that we need to relearn to listen to our real desires, because they usually match what our bodies need the most. 

You hate celery but you were told that drinking a glass full of celery juice each morning would give you an amazing amount of energy each day? Listen to your body: it’s not going to work for you. However, you love berries? Well that’s a good way to enjoy yourself while doing something that is also good for you. And, above all else, don’t be scared of exploring. Follow these guidelines: firstly, put away anything that is clearly harmful to your health. Then, make changes slowly, starting by eating the foods you enjoy and that are healthy. Take back control over your eating habits by eating things that are good for you, and only you. Once you’ve sorted out what you like and don’t like, start learning about a good way to balance your meals, and find your balance.

Once you have learned how to eat healthily and in a way that you can sustain, I suggest that you follow this rule to create a healthy balance: follow your healthy routine 5 to 6 days a week and forget about any of the rules the rest of the week. 

This balance, which may seem counterintuitive at first glance, is a way of telling our brain and body that everything is possible, and that nothing is set in stone. But this technique also has another advantage: with time you will get used to the benefits of the healthy routine you created. As a result, even on days when the “rules” are left out, you will tend not to overdo it, because you’ll know the pleasant feeling of feeling good about your body and being in tune with your needs. That’s when you know you’ve reached nirvana; when being healthy becomes pleasurable, that’s the best place to be!

Professional and personal goals: what really matters? 

Our personal and professional goals tend to be guided by what we think we ought to be doing and not by what we really like and enjoy.

A simple question can help you be aware of what really matters to you: how would you like to be remembered? What footprint would you like to leave in the world?

Here, there is no question of making a value judgment between certain careers, certain activities and other ones. It is simply a question of being open to a deep honesty towards oneself. Does the path I am following resemble me, match who I am and my values? Do I give myself the opportunity to move in a direction that allows me to be truly myself?

This is how you can think about what really matters to you. While you think about your relationships, your health and your life goals, always remember this: what you discover is right for you and for you alone. If you start to wonder what your mom, your best friend or your grand-pa would think about it, you lose sight of the goal of this exercise. Here, what counts is to find your balance and no one else’s. This is the only way to give the best version of yourself to the people around you.

So, tell us in the comments: do these questions help you see more clearly what really matters to you and to achieve your goals? We would love to read what you have to say!

Translator: Stella Debiaggi

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