How Do You Determine What Matters?

Most people strive to live a life that has meaning; a life that matters. Key to that end, then, is figuring out just what matters in the first place.

This question follows up on this week’s Throwdown Thursday question: Everything Matters or Nothing Matters. As with many Thursday questions, the answer likely falls somewhere between the two extremes. In this case, there are some things that matter, and some things that don’t.

If that is true, the challenge lies in determining which of your actions fall into which of the two categories. You probably don’t want to spend a lot of time agonizing over decisions that don’t matter. Similarly, you do want to put in the time and effort to make the right call on something that is meaningful.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘How can we maintain wonder?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘How do you think others see you?’


But how to decide between them? One way might be to lump all the small decisions — what to wear, what to eat, when to go to bed, and so on — as being inconsequential. The big decisions — where to go to college, who to marry, which house to buy, whether to have kids — are meaningful.

There are a few problems with this. One is that adding up a bunch of small decisions can equal a big decision. Constantly being late for work (a small decision) day after day may mean you lose your job (a big outcome). And even a small decision can have a big impact. If you trace back the biggest, most important decisions in your life, often they come from small choices we made.

But it is important that we recognize what matters and what doesn’t. Or is it? Maybe we treat every decision as one that matters. Or might that leave your wracked with indecision, stressing over the potential consequences of everything you do?

How do you determine what matters?

Related questions: What is important? How can we turn ideas into actions? How much power does an individual have? What deserves your attention?

 

What Makes A Person Interesting?

When you meet someone new, you may find that person interesting or you may find them boring. Can you pinpoint exactly what makes someone appeal to you?

There are many things that might make someone fun to talk with. Maybe they have funny stories to tell. Perhaps they know a lot about a wide variety of subjects. Alternately, they may be a good listener, which might make for a good conversationalist.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What gives a person value?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘What makes you you?’


In fact, not everyone finds the same things interesting. To me, a person might be quite dull; but to you, they could be fascinating. So really the question could be rephrased as “What makes a person interesting to you?”

Or maybe it is a fact that all people have something to recommend them, and you only need to put in the work to find out how the person interests you specifically.

At any rate, can you identify the traits someone might have that makes them fun to be around? What might a person do or say in order to participate in a meaningful conversation? When you think about the humans you have been fascinated with, do they have something in common? What makes a person interesting?

Related questions: Who are your most interesting friends? What makes a good friend? What makes a good leader? Who are your heroes?

Intuition Or Common Sense?

Intuition and common sense aren’t exactly opposites, but they are not the same, either. Is one stronger than the other in you?

Share why if you wish.

Intuition Or Common Sense?

What Do You Wish You Had Learned As A Child?

One of the great tragedies of life is that it is easiest to learn things when you are a child, but don’t yet know what you want to learn.

As a result, people often regret not learning things as a child. For example, speaking a different language, or perfecting a physical task like hitting a golf ball or shooting a free-throw. If only you had stuck with those piano lessons, you might be a concert pianist now!


Related: We often learn from reading. Listen to the Intellectual Roundtable podcast where Michael and Lee give their answers to the question, ‘What book has had the biggest impact on you?’ Stay tuned for a bonus question, ‘How do you show thanks?’


To be sure, you can still learn many skills later in life. Some of them, you can even become proficient doing, if you have the desire and the perseverance.

However, there’s little doubt that many of those same skills could have been learned even faster, and potentially even more comprehensively, if you had started them when you were still developing, both mentally and physically.

Are there any skills you wish you had learned as a child? Are there any talents you now have that you fostered when you were younger that you appreciate?

Related questions: Children or adults? What is your favorite childhood memory? Youth or wisdom? How do you learn? What’s the most useful thing you’ve ever learned?