Let’s be honest.
We all spend time thinking about or doing unimportant things.
It can take a lot of time and energy, and it distracts us from the things that do matter.
Children and teenagers are particularly prone to this. I admit that I was definitely like this when I was younger as well!
I’ve spoken to and worked with more than 20,000 students thus far. Based on my experiences and observations, I’ve come up with this list of things that young people need to realise are not important in life.
1. How many friends or followers you have on social media
Many people measure their self-worth by the number of friends or followers they have on social media, but this isn’t important in the long run.
Those followers won’t help you when you have a rough day, and they won’t support you when you’re feeling down.
They’ll just post images to show the best parts of their lives – too much time spent on social media leads to depression for this very reason.
2. How many “likes” you get on social media
The number of “likes” or comments on a social media post can seem important. It can seem like an indication of your popularity.
You get a small dopamine hit every time you get a “thumbs up”, which explains why social media is so addictive.
The thing to remember is that the number of likes you get isn’t nearly as important as the number of true friends you have. Nor is it as important as the relationships you have with your family members.
3. Living in the past
Everyone can get caught up living in the past. Either reliving the good times, or rehashing mistakes you’ve made.
According to research conducted by Matt Killingsworth, we’re happiest when we live in the moment.
So make the decision to be fully present wherever you are.
4. Being constantly connected to the Internet
It might be challenging, but try to find balance between time spent online and time spent in the real world.
You’re far more likely to be healthy and happy if you engage with other people face to face, as well as lead a balanced life.
5. Comparing yourself with others
This is an easy trap to fall into, but it rarely leads to anything good. When you compare yourself to other people you’re likely to feel inferior.
Instead of comparing yourself with others, focus on ways that you can improve yourself or your situation so you feel more empowered.
6. Being obsessed about having nice “stuff”
It’s easy to think about all your friends who have nicer gadgets and clothes than you.
The best way to deal with this obsession is to think more holistically about the other person’s life.
Consider whether they’re truly happy, or whether they have strong relationships. Often, having nice stuff conceals unhappiness that exists at a deeper level.
7. Being better than other people
We’re always going to be better than some people at some things, and worse than some people at other things.
But life isn’t a race; it’s a journey. Each of us is unique, so we ought to strive to make the most of our gifts and talents.
Life is more about being the best that we can be, and less about being better than others.
8. Holding on to anger and resentment
Malachy McCourt said, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” It’s true that anger and resentment slowly destroy your life if you hold on to them.
Instead of holding on to anger, seek healthy outlets to help you deal with it effectively so you can move on with your life.
9. Being fake
It’s easy to put up a front to try to appear more like your friends, or to gain the approval of your peers.
The problem is that you’re trying to be something you’re not. You’re lying to others and yourself and it will become obvious over time.
It’s far better to be honest and authentic, even though this takes courage and will make you feel uncomfortable – at least at the start.
10. Winning every argument you get into
Winning an argument can make it seem like you’re smarter and stronger than the other person.
But the desire to win every argument you get into isn’t healthy in the long term.
So learn other ways of dealing with conflict. Often, it’s a good idea to just walk away from an argument if it gets too heated.
11. The latest celebrity news or gossip
It can seem important to know about the latest celebrity gossip, especially if your friends frequently talk about these issues.
You might feel excluded from conversations if you don’t know what’s going on.
But there are many other productive things you could be doing with your time, e.g. learning a new skill, reading a book, taking an online course.
12. What people think of you (especially people you don’t know)
We all want to be well-liked. Caring about what others think of us is natural, but you must not center your behaviour on others’ opinions.
We must remember that we should always strive to gain approval from a very important person: ourselves. It’s when we’re growing in commitment and courage that we’ll feel proud of who we are.
13. Trying too hard to fit in
Everyone wants to fit in and be accepted.
The best way to become an authentic, likeable person is to relax and just be yourself.
No one can be liked by everyone else all the time, so focus on becoming the best version of yourself.
14. Being unnecessarily busy
Society has come to see busyness as a badge of honour. Busy people appear important and influential, but it’s not healthy to be rushing all the time.
Being busy isn’t about being occupied. It’s about being focused, productive and effective. It’s also about taking time out to relax, because time off makes us more productive.
15. Labelling and categorising others
When we label other people it’s rarely helpful. It’s just another way of criticising other people in the hope that it will make us feel better about ourselves.
Instead, ask yourself why you label others. Is it because you feel insecure in some way?
If you come to terms with the fact that there are different people in the world and that no one is “superior” to anyone else, you’ll feel more confident.
16. Blaming others
Blaming other people is often easier than accepting responsibility for your actions.
Rather than blaming others when a problem arises, adopt a “fix it” mentality and focus on finding solutions.
Life is all about choices and consequences. Focusing on solutions rather than laying blame will make you a happier – and better – person.
17. Worrying about the future
Instead of worrying, concentrate on planning.
Worrying is about imagining bad things that may or may not happen, whereas planning is about focusing on things that are within your control.
When you’re planning, you’re considering ways to make success as likely as possible. This is empowering, which explains why the happiest and most successful people I know are all planners!
18. Focusing too much on achievement
Achievement is important, but it’s more important to focus on contribution instead.
We can gain great satisfaction from helping others and solving problems in the world.
It’s crucial to remember that life isn’t just about achievement. It’s also about slowing down, building meaningful relationships, and making a difference in the lives of others.
19. Envying others
It’s easy to envy other people, but often we only see a small portion of their lives.
You might envy someone who always seems to have the latest accessories and clothes.
But if you find out that they receive these things because their parents fight all the time and give gifts out of guilt, you’ll realise their life isn’t as enviable as you once thought.
20. Having fun all the time
Fun is a vital part of life, but it’s not everything. In order to really value the fun times we need some contrast, too.
We need to experience challenges and frustrations so that we can fully appreciate the good times.
Those times when you have to draw on your courage or follow through on your commitments make the fun times so much more memorable.
We also gain fulfilment from overcoming life’s challenges.
21. Constantly seeking the approval of others
Constantly seeking approval from others isn’t healthy for our self-esteem.
Doing so implies that we’re not good enough, so we have to constantly check that we’re doing okay.
You might try too hard to get others to like you – and they might even get annoyed.
So don’t worry so much about whether other people approve of you. Instead, focus on living according to the right values and principles.
22. Criticising yourself too much
The problem with criticising yourself too much is that other people start to believe your criticism.
It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, which further affects your self-confidence.
If you’re prone to self-criticism, try and catch yourself before you speak those words of criticism and turn the comment around.
Tell yourself – and others – how hard you tried and what steps you’ll take to ensure a better outcome in the future.
23. Being perfect
There’s no such thing as a perfect person – everyone makes mistakes.
Instead of trying to be perfect, focus on developing and improving yourself.
When you continually strive to become a better version of yourself, you’ll gain confidence. That’s the power of focusing on progress, not perfection.
Giving yourself a little praise for a job well done is fine, but when it turns into full-blown bragging it’s a problem.
People who brag about themselves get a reputation for being all talk, but little substance.
Instead of bragging about how great you are, get out there and do something remarkable.
Taking action and achieving results brings greater satisfaction than telling everyone how good you are.
25. Spending time with toxic people
Spending time with toxic people can make life “interesting” in many ways, but it’s also destructive.
Toxic people damage your self-esteem and distract you from the things that matter in life. So live according to the right principles and stay as far away from toxic people as you can.
26. Having a constant fear of missing out
No one likes missing out. But the fact is that we all have to miss out on things from time to time. There’s no use worrying about missing out.
The best thing you can do is enjoy the times you do spend with your friends, without constantly being anxious about the fun opportunities you might miss out on.
27. Achieving success on someone else’s terms
Success is only sweet when we achieve it on our own terms, and when our success is focused on adding value to others.
It takes courage and commitment to set your own goals, but it’s the only way to find real success.
Other people may criticise you for being foolish, but their negative comments often reflect their own insecurities.
Decide what success means to you at a personal level, and don’t let societal pressure influence you to be somebody you don’t want to be.
28. Getting involved in drama
Instead of getting involved in unnecessary drama, put yourself on a “drama diet” – let other people own their own problems.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t help them out, but don’t allow yourself to get sucked in emotionally.
You’ll find that your life is a lot more peaceful and enjoyable when it’s less “dramatic”.
29. Being happy all the time
Everybody wants to be happy, but it’s impossible to be happy all the time.
At the end of the day, what we really want is to lead a meaningful life.
In order to do this, we may need to go through periods where we make sacrifices or feel temporarily unhappy.
The good news is that this makes the good times even more precious!
30. Appearing smart
If you’re too concerned about looking smart, you won’t take on so many challenges.
You also won’t ask so many questions for fear of appearing dumb.
All of this will affect your own development.
So don’t be afraid to ask questions or take on new challenges, because this is the only way to grow as a person.
What is most important in life?
Understanding at a deep level what’s important in life helps you to be more focused and less anxious about unimportant things.
Knowing what’s important in life helps you to be more focused and less anxious.
You’ll also be able to save your energy for significant matters.
The next time you find yourself being stressed, take a step back and ask yourself these questions:
- Is this going to matter in a year?
- Will I even remember this in a year?
- Will this help me to grow as a person?
- Is this in line with my values and long-term goals?
If the answer to these questions is “no”, then chances are it’s not actually important.
Let it go and focus on the things that do matter.
Adopt this approach day by day, and you’ll see huge changes in your life over time!
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