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The 9 most important things in life (for fulfilment and happiness)

So much of our time here on Earth is wasted chasing away temporary happiness.

We spend an entire month’s pay on cellphones we’ll forget next year. We miss important birthdays because of a job that doesn’t pay well enough. And we say yes to too many projects and no to personal projects that would make us happy and fulfilled.

Too many of us feel unhappy with the choices we make because we realize they aren’t worth it in the end. We drop everything just to get our hands on these new and shiny things, forgetting that real invaluable possessions can’t be bought with money.

If you live in an amazing house with no happy family to live with, can you really tell yourself you live in a home?

Stop wasting your time pursuing things that won’t reward you with long-term happiness.

Money can buy happiness but that happiness fades away as easily as the cash you spend.

These 9 things are beyond money and can only achieved through mindful living.

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The best part?

They’re free of charge and reward you ten times over:

Healthy Relationships

Successful people thrive in the presence of successful people. Don’t let gritty businessmen tell you that the road to success can be achieved by stepping on people.

There are many ways to achieve great things and using people at their own expense is not the best way to get there.

In fact, it has long been scientifically established that strong personal connections lead to happiness. Not only do they add value to our lives—they make us healthier.

One famous 79-year study from Harvard University found that our relationships and the happiness we derive from them have a powerful influence on our health.

According to clinical psychologist Sue Johnson:

“Good relationships aren’t just happier and nicer. When we know how to heal [relationships] and keep them strong, they make us resilient.

“All these clichés about how love makes us stronger aren’t just clichés; it’s physiology. Connection with people who love and value us is our only safety net in life.”

But this means nothing if you lack empathy and emotional responsiveness.

Johnson explains:

“The secret to loving relationships and to keeping them strong and vibrant over the years, to falling in love again and again, is emotional responsiveness.

“The $99 million question in love is, ‘Are you there for me?’ It’s not just, ‘Are you my friend and will you help me with the chores?’ It’s about emotional synchronicity and being tuned in.”

For starters, no matter how nonchalant you might seem, this is eventually going to weigh down on your spirit. There’s just something about being cruel and relentless that wears down the human soul.

Instead of treating life as a race, use social opportunities to create genuine relationships with people. Go for relationships that stimulate your brain and challenge you to become a better version of yourself. We’ve been trained to think that the only way up is by bringing other people down. It’s about time to change that and start developing real connections with the people around you. Everyone has their own story – you’d be surprised how similar you are with other people.

Family

While it’s true that family can be a major source of stress for a lot of people, it can also be a major source of strength.

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Some families have love/hate relationships and if you are like most families, you probably have some element of this in your life.

But that’s no reason to shut those people out of your life. In fact, that’s all the more reason to rally around them and celebrate who you are together, which is stronger together than apart. Family is one of the most important things you can focus on to help enrich your life and your love.

Keep this in mind:

Family doesn’t have to be defined as someone who is a blood relative to you. You do actually get to choose who you call family, despite popular belief.

Having a strong connection and support from family is good for our overall health or well-being.

According to psychologist John Northman:

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“This idea of feeling connected becomes very reinforcing, to all of us, and it contributes to happiness, it contributes to mental health and it does contribute also to physical health.”

“It’s well known that when people feel better connected, that they feel better physically, they’re certainly less likely to feel depressed — or if they do, they’re in a better position to get out of being depressed.

“Overall, it leads to a feeling of a greater degree of support and connection psychologically.”

Your friends

With your family in check, it’s time to turn your attention to another important part of your life that requires a lot of consideration: your friends.

Whether you have one life-long friend or you have ten party friends who you share every weekend with, surrounding yourself with people who mean a lot to you is important.

Friends are more than just companions in our lives, they are confidants, cheerleaders, shoulders to cry on, and they provide couches to sleep on.

In fact, they provide so much value in our life, that they’re just as important, or even more so than our families.

Why?

Because they’re basically the family you choose.

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At least according to new research published in the journal Personal Relationships. William Chopik, the study’s lead author says:

“The really surprising thing was that, in a lot of ways, relationships with friends had a similar effect as those with family—and in others, they surpassed them.”

“You have kept those people around because they have made you happy, or at least contributed to your well-being in some way.

“Across our lives, we let the more superficial friendships fade, and we’re left with the really influential ones.”

If you have even one good friend, consider yourself lucky. If you’ve not found someone you can call a friend yet, keep looking. It’s worth the wait.

Love in all shapes and sizes

Fill your life with a love that comes in all shapes and sizes. You don’t have to be romantically tied to anyone and you never need to fall in love.

You can find love from a variety of sources and be your own source of love. Love yourself before you go out into the world looking for someone else to love you.

As spiritual healer Shannon Peck says:

“Love gives deeper meaning to everything. When we feel loved we feel most alive. When we love others it’s as though we’ve come home.”


(We just released a new eBook: The Art of Resilience: A Practical Guide to Developing Mental Toughness. We highlight 20 of the most resilient people in the world and break down what traits they have in common. We then equip you with 10 resilience-building tools that you can start using today–in your personal life or professional career. Check it out here.)


But don’t mistake love for being just romantic. Before you can love anyone, you need to love yourself first.

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Be comfortable loving yourself before you ask someone else to love you. What so many people do is put a lot of pressure on another person to provide them with the love they need.

It’s not necessary.

You can fulfill that role for yourself and enjoy the company of others and love them for who they are, not what they can give you.

Passion

Nelson Mandela famously said:

“There is no passion to be found playing small—in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

Life is made more special by our passions, our desires, our dreams, and our hopes. Without passion, we feel fruitless and unfulfilled.

Leadership coach and author John Maxwell calls passion the “fuel of persistence” for its capacity to make “the impossible possible.”

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He explains:

“People are wired so that when their souls ignite, they no longer shrink before the barriers in front of them. That’s what makes a passionate leader particularly effective.”

Passion looks different for everyone. The wonderful thing about pursuing your passion, whether it’s your life’s work or your volunteer time on the weekend, you get to experience all aspects of being alive.

Studies show that passion has a big impact on maintaining “sustainable psychological well-being.” It gives us purpose and keeps us sane.

When your soul comes alive, you come alive. Passion helps our souls come alive. Don’t skimp on finding things that make you happy and bring you joy on the inside.

It’s not frivolous or silly: it’s the stuff good lives are made from.

Time and Productivity

We have 24 hours a day to do the things we want. But sometimes we feel that this isn’t enough time to develop our character and become who we are. In reality, it’s not that time just moves too fast. Too often, we spend time on things that make us go slow.

We tend to prioritize things that cost too much energy and have little pay-offs. Most thought experts agree that multitasking only bears low productivity and even fewer results. The key to life, then, isn’t to do more but to do what you can with the time you have.

According to CEO David Allen, author of the famous book Getting Things Done:

“Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.”

And being productive is the simple solution to all your stress and anxiety about your goals in life.

He adds:

“Perspective and control are the two ingredients to time management.”

When you see time as a finite resource, you stop taking it for granted and begin spending every second wisely.

Good Health

When we’re enjoying the peak of our careers, it’s easy to forget that we’re humans too. We forget to eat, sleep, work out, and have fun. We forget that we’re more than just money-making machines churning dollar after dollar.

Too many great people fall into sickness because they didn’t bother taking care of themselves. When you spend all of your life working and chasing after successes, chances are you’re forgetting to nurture your body. Investing energy in proper health care ensures that you will be here long enough to watch your successes go in full bloom.

Here’s a staggering truth. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services:

“Unhealthy eating habits have contributed to the obesity epidemic in the United States: about one-third of U.S. adults (33.8%) are obese and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese.”

That’s not the only reason for obesity. A lot of people also forget to incorporate physical activity into their daily routines.

But good health isn’t just measured by longevity. The quality of life you live can also be considered good health. The less time you spend being sick and depressed gives you more time to enjoy what you have, without necessarily extending your lifetime. The key is to find enjoyment in the things you do, one minute at a time.

Wellness

Without a healthy body to carry you through this life, it will be difficult to surround yourself with the things you need.

If you focus on creating a healthful lifestyle for yourself, you’ll find more passion for your hobbies, more love for the people in your life, more friends to accept you for who you are, and more family to feel connected to. Wellness doesn’t mean being thin or even pretty: it means being mindful of how you treat yourself and your body.

Dr. Ryan Corte, who specializes in health and wellness, it’s more than just being fit. It’s a choice to feel better.

He explains:

“Wellness is something that you choose to pursue. It’s a choice you make in life that requires constant effort to achieve.

“While associated with a healthy lifestyle, wellness goes beyond the confines of general health. It encompasses a positive outlook on your mind, body, and soul and is something we often have more control over than health.”

When you care for your body the way you would care for another human being, you send signals into the universe that you are worthy and that worthiness attracts good things into your life.

Reason to Live

Your reasons to live are your goals but not all of your goals can be considered your reason to live. Your purpose is a larger-than-life phenomenon you have that drives your actions and your principles. It’s the reason why you get out of bed every day and why you keep bouncing back up regardless of the setbacks you face.

A person’s purpose takes on many forms. You may want to become a best-selling writer. Maybe you want to be a diplomat. Maybe you want to be an academic and change the way people understand education. These things are bigger than the mundanities of day-to-day life. Find what your purpose is and you will have unlimited fuel, sharper focus, and a more passionate outlook on life.

Personal development guru Celestine Chua that having a purpose in life is the “first step to live your most conscious life.”

She adds:

“When you know your purpose, it helps you differentiate between the important and unimportant. Most people today are so caught up in so many things that ultimately do not make a difference in their lives.

“When you have a purpose, you can immediately see which goals are important and which aren’t vs. your long-term life path. You can cut through the BS and get right to the things that matter.”

Find balance in all of these areas of your life and you’ll be one of the lucky ones. Work to create balance in all of these areas of your life and you’ll live a life that most only dream about. At the center of the perfect life is you. Don’t ever forget it.

If you’re interested in learning how to live a life of purpose, check out this discussion between the shaman Rudá Iandê and Ideapod founder Justin Brown. It may be the inspiration you’re looking for to start changing your life: What does it mean to live your life “out of the box”? (Free salon)

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Notable replies

  1. I like to consider purpose and reason to live as non-sequiter because the fact that we live overrides reason and purpose. If there were a quantifiable purpose, then it would not be life but existence.
    I like to think potential is the compelling force. It is always out in front of us, like a golden snitch. Potential, good or bad relatively speaking is manifesting itself through our actions and the chemical payoffs of our thought processes.

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Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the editor of Ideapod and founder of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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