“It matters because you make it matter”
This phrase came into my mind as I was pondering a few things that were causing me stress in my life. I realized through some meditation and reflection about the things that were stressing me out that this one simple idea could change everything.
First, let’s look at negative things that matter to us. Think of something that causes anger, heartache, grief, stress or any other negative emotion. Think about why it causes that negative emotion or those negative thoughts. Why does it cause pain and suffering? Because we make it matter. We often don’t even realize that we make them matter so much.
For example, let’s say your child is acting out in a restaurant. People are looking in your direction. Despite a patient effort, your child continues to throw a tantrum. You become upset and frustrated. You ultimately discipline the child with scolding words and leave the restaurant in a rush after paying the bill. The whole evening was ruined by the tantrum and the more you dwell on it the more upset you become. You made it matter.
There are many things in that one small event that mattered to you. You wanted a nice night out at a restaurant with your family. That mattered a lot to you. It mattered to you that your kids behaved themselves and acted according to expectations that you set for them. It mattered that people were looking and whispering about you and your child. It mattered that your expectation of a great night out was not met.
Now let’s look the positive side of this idea. There are many good things that we would like to do. This could be a new habit, finding a new job, starting a family, watching less TV, eating healthier, or other positive changes and events in our lives. We sometimes find these changes hard to make, new habits difficult to start and continue or bad habits hard to break. We find these positive things difficult to accomplish. We need to make them matter, too.
Let’s say you want to take evening walks with your wife and kids. Does it matter more than the TV? More than surfing Facebook? We have to decide what really matters and then make it matter.
How do you make things matter or make things not matter? There are a few things you can practice to help things matter or not matter.
- Stop worrying when things don’t go right or according to plan. Worry is the enemy of happiness and change. When we worry about something bad, we make it matter to us. When we worry when something goes wrong, it matters to us. If we don’t worry and instead focus on the positive, recognize that not everything goes exactly as planned and act to make positive change, many negative things won’t
- Focus on the good. When we spend more of our time focusing on the good around us in the world and the positive things that happen to us and others, we won’t have as much time to worry about the bad and we will make the good matter.
- Be mindful of what matters. In both of the situations above, a quick minute to sit back and watch our thoughts and emotions without responding or acting will diminish the meaning and worth of the bad and increase the worth and meaning of the good. We will realize that there are many things that ultimately don’t matter. Eventually we will find those things that matter more. The positive things. Things that make us happy and bring us joy and peace. Things that invite love into our lives.
Remember, the things that matter in life only matter because we make them matter. Along with practicing the above steps, write a list of things that truly matter or that you want to truly matter and things that you can think of that really don’t matter and try to increase the worth and value of the things that truly matter.