Perspective (aka What’s Really Important In Life?)

  • Definition: When bad things bump you in the head (metaphorically, don’t worry) and make you open your eyes to pay attention to your surroundings, thoughts and actions: does it really matter what I have been worrying about? Does it really matter what I do in this situation? Should I really feel this angry towards my surroundings? Often these different questions can be answered with one word: no.

“We all get so caught up in the moment of what we’re doing every day, it’s hard to hit that reset button and get pulled away from all that and see life from a different perspective”
– Tony Stewart –

My master thesis was about the effect of money on happiness and whether it was different for post-materialistic as opposed to materialistic people. The results were slightly inconclusive on that matter, as they seemed to depend on the measurement of (post-)materialism, but one effect was so great and significant in all my analyses, it was impossible to overlook: health is the biggest factor in affecting our personal happiness.

Initially “health” had merely been a control variable, but it’s safe to say its effect on our self-satisfaction opened my eyes. Slightly. Because every now and then I tend to forget to be appreciative of my good health. I forget I have so many good things going on in my life, because they’re there and I take them for granted.

And then something awful happens and I get thrown right back in that corner of “what does it all matter anyway?”. My perspective on life gets shaken and is turned upside down, until I remember to be appreciative and grateful of the few things that actually matter in life.

On both Monday and Tuesday I received bad news about the health statuses of two people I care about. The worst part is there is absolutely nothing I can do to fix their situations. Nothing. I’ve never felt so helpless and useless in my life. I don’t like to go down without a fight and the control freak inside me is going nuts over the simply yet horrendous fact that in both cases, I can do nothing but sit and wait and accept the situation. Which I don’t want to accept, but it’s all there is to do.

In all of this madness the framework through which I perceive the world has changed. So what if I am five minutes late to my hair dressing appointment? The world won’t stop spinning if I am! And who cares if my classmate was late sending in her homework for our next trial session? It’s not like that means the Apocalypse is near.

Life is precious and we often forget. Because we are too busy or think all good things will last forever. We don’t take into account all the things that could go wrong, which is good in a way, because that would lead to paranoia. But it’s not right to completely forget about the bad sides of life. Sometimes the shadows take over from the sunshine and leave us in the dark. Useless and upset and sad. Robbed of everything we believed in, and handed a sheet with basics to life: appreciate what you have, be grateful for what you’re given, and cherish your health.

I think with these three things, we can get further in life and live happier. Get out of the shadows and back into the sun. Because before you know it, we’ve run out of time and it’s too late to even try. And what good will an expensive car do you then? Or a big house? Exactly: nothing!

Although I wish we wouldn’t, every so often we need a push to put us back in our place, to righten our skewed perspective on life.

Health, gratitude, appreciation. I’d like to see the effects of those three on personal happiness. I bet they’re huge.

What is your perspective on life? What’s important to you?

15 thoughts on “Perspective (aka What’s Really Important In Life?)”

  1. I’m sorry to hear about your friends Sam. Well written post. As you know about my situation with my son, Jy, in 2015, he was hospitalized for almost two months. I’m a very ambitious person, but that moment in my life made me realize how many things don’t matter. As you said, material things really don’t matter. I’m not a materialistic person anyhow, but I enjoyed working my way up the corporate ladder. It’s fine, but to what extent? I have reorganized my life. I had a very well-paying job at a university setting. I published numerous research articles, but I didn’t see my kids much even on the weekends. I went part-time at work, but as of January, my work wanted me full-time or they had nothing for me. I took nothing. It’s been a big adjustment for me, but my son has numerous doctor appointments and needs help with his homework because he can’t function like he used to (he is getting better). This is what I need to be doing right now. We are financially okay with my husband’s work. I can pursue other dreams and goals, but my family comes first. You can’t get that time back. You don’t realize how important health is either until you are faced with a major health problem. Then, the world stops. You are forced to slow down. Love this post, Sam. Have a wonderful day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love it, how you say family comes first and you can’t get back lost time. It’s exactly like that! We all need a wake up call but when we get one, we see it. I hope your son keeps improving, at least he has supportive family members around him who chose him over a career. That’s a courageous choice, giving up your job like that, but I really believe you’ll get much more back this way. Time is more important than anything else measurable, we should spend it wisely 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes! I did get more back this way. I had to remind myself that “more” doesn’t have to be in terms of money or prestige. “More” can be as simple and precious as more time with my son. YES! We must spend time wisely. It’s a sneaky thing that slips through our fingers. Thanks, Sam!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Enjoyed this post a lot Samantha. Couldn’t agree more. I see so many people fighting and arguing and stressing over this, that and the other thing…instead of concentrating on being healthy, being grateful, being appreciative as you suggest. Life just keeps spinning wildly and I suppose it’s human nature to spin right along with it instead of slowing things down a bit at least once in a while and taking in as many wonderful, precious moments as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When the bad moments wear off we fall back to being unappreciative (I usually do). I’ll try to keep this feeling of gratitude going and will force myself to remember my life isn’t so bad. There’s plenty of reasons to enjoy my life yet somehow I cling on to the negative sides, lol. It’s human nature to do so, but still. Very harsh but good lesson learned.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s easier to be reminded of something that’s very wrong in your life than be prompted by the good things. They hurt less, so they leave less of an impact on your memory. Still, every now and then we are reminded they are there 🙂


  3. The quote of Tony Stewart hits me, it is absolutely right! When there are more negative feelings then positive feelings in your life, the negative feelings will take it over. I’m always overthinking about the bad feelings, but maybe it is time to start thinking more about the positive things that are going on in my life. If I think about them more often, I would be more grateful for them. I think it is really good that you remember you also have some good things going on in your life, even if the bad ones are taking it over right now. The bad ones will fade away Samantha, and you will feel happy again. I know it really sucks that you are feeling so useless towards the people you love, but unfortunately we can’t do anything about it.. I wish I could also help them!! But the only way you CAN help them, is to be there for them and think about them and let them see the positive sight of Samantha 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we’re on to something: maybe that’s why it is so difficult to be happy: because we forget about the good things. Gratitude is important to keep a healthy and happy mindset.
      As for the people who need me: I hope they know they can always count on me when they need to. That’s all I can do for them (unfortunately).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. There’s a great quote from the Dalai Lama to the effect that people ruin their health trying to get lots of money; then they spend all their money trying to regain their health.
    I’m sorry that people important to you are going through hard times. I know that you cannot fix things for them, but the very fact that you care makes a difference to them. J.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, J. I hope you are right, I feel so… So… I don’t even have a word for it.
      That quote is a good one, btw. Very true, and yet a lot of us fall for it anyway.


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