The Heart of What Matters


I often ask myself what is it that truly matters to me? Usually I start with a list of values ranging from freedom and creativity to family and connection.

What does it all mean? I feel like my values are just a bunch of words and abstract concepts.

For example, what does freedom mean exactly? To me it means that I can do what I want when I want to. Most of the time, I’m fortunate enough to do what I want. This of course is subject to life’s unexpected surprises and setbacks. There are also my frustrations and doubts which cast a shadow over what I get to do sometimes.

When I think about it, I feel that I’m not as free as I think I should be and that makes me question what I mean when I say I value freedom.

What does any value mean? How do we define what’s really important? And if I’m unclear about the meaning of what’s important, how do I find value in what I’m doing?

The other side of value

I decided instead of focusing on value and importance—which are not that clear, why not think of how others benefit in their own lives, which is more practical.

Value is the price (or measure) of what we use to solve a problem or improve our lives and the lives of others.

At the heart of what’s valuable and what matters is a need met and a life changed.

Where I found value

In a previous article I mentioned needing to take my mother to the dentist to get her chipped tooth fixed. We did it a few days back. It was a long commute to the dentist and back. Thankfully, things went smoothly and our dentist managed to repair the tooth and make it look better than it originally was.

After we were done, we stopped at the hairdresser and my mother got a haircut. On the way home, she looked at me with the brightest eyes and the biggest smile and said I feel like I’m brand new. She was so happy and appreciative of the changes.

I can’t describe to you how I felt in that moment. I felt like all of life gave my heart a hug. My soul lit up and I truly felt grateful and privileged to have been able to contribute to my mother’s well-being in a simple way that made her feel good.

This is what truly matters. We all are here to feel good and make others feel good—genuinely feel good. The good that ignites your soul and makes your heart smile. The good that radiates through your body with love and gratitude.

How do you make yourself and others feel good?

If you want to reach the depth of your soul and find what matters to you most, don’t waste your time looking for values and metrics of importance. Instead consider the following:

Do what you love. If you live from your highest joy, you will live a life that is of the most value to you. You will feel great and you might inspire others to do the same.

Help others. Share your brilliance with the people around you. Contribute in any way you can to help others. Give with all your heart. If you don’t have money, give your time and effort.

Don’t underestimate your contribution. There is no small act of support and kindness. The time you spend with your child, a smile to a total stranger as they pass you by, holding the elevator for someone, or helping a friend through a breakup—all count. Every single act, thought and gesture count.

I’m not going to worry about my values any more. What matters to me the most is to do what I love and what can genuinely affect someone’s life in the simplest and most authentic way.

We are in this journey to be all we can be and to help others in their journey to true fulfillment. Look deeply within your life and do what brings you joy and when you can, add a hint of joy to anyone around you. Life’s best moments are the ones that are shared.

That’s the heart of what matters and the best legacy we can leave behind.

At the center of the universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job. ~Fred Rogers