How to be Happier: Focusing on what’s Important

How to be Happier: Focusing on what’s ImportantThere are several ways to become happier with your life right now. There’s thinking in a positive light, accepting that failure is something that you cannot avoid and is part of the learning process, becoming more grateful, and living a simpler life. For this article, we will discuss becoming happier through focusing on what’s important. That is, your basic needs.

The reason why we want to focus on fulfilling your basic needs is because of worry. Think about it. What is the source of your worry every day? You worry about your job, your friends, your finances, and several others. Now, if you look closely you can see that most of your worries stem out from being able to fulfill your needs. For example, you worry about your job because you need to perform in order to stay employed and to earn money which you’ll use to pay bills and provide food on the table. Hence, you want to eliminate this worry. If you fulfill your needs, you will have lesser worries and you’ll notice that you will be happier.

Exercise: What’s Important to You?

Now then, how do we focus on needs? Before we can do that, we first need to know what’s important to you. What do you consider important and a priority? Is it providing food for the table? Is it going to work with new clothes all the time? Is it getting the latest gadget? To do this, here’s an exercise for you.

  1. How to be Happier: Focusing on what’s ImportantFirst, gather the materials you need. It’s basically just a pen and paper, a small chunk off of your time, and a place where you can think clearly. You don’t need to free up your whole day. An hour is probably more than enough to complete this activity. As for the venue, you can do this anywhere. It can be in your bedroom, your kitchen, a coffee shop, or the food court of a mall. Practically anywhere as long as you can think and spend some time there.
  2. Next, answer the questions: What’s important to you and what are your priorities? Make a list of at least 5 to 10 items.
  3. It’s not enough to know what’s important to you. You also need to have a clear idea of why it’s a priority so that if you can’t make a good reason, you can take it off the list. So, beside each item, write why it’s a priority. For example, your job is important because you need money to sustain your needs. For items that you weren’t able to make up a good and reasonable explanation on why it’s important and a need, take it off your list.
  4. Since you know your priorities, it’s time to look at what you do to attend to your priorities. Write this beside each and also include how much time you spend doing so. This will help you see whether you spend enough time on your priorities or use it for something else.
  5. Next, analyze your data. If you see that you don’t spend as much time on your priorities, perhaps that’s why you have a lot of worries. Then, think about where you’re using your time and effort. What non-priorities have you been spending time on? Make another list for this.

Take note of the items you listed on the non-priorities list and try to minimize your time and effort on them or spend less if you use more money on them as compared to your needs. For example, buying new clothes is on this list and you find that you’ve been prioritizing shopping for new clothes over putting more nutritious food on the table. Obviously this isn’t very practical, so cross out shopping for new clothes from your list of things to spend money on.

Basically, the idea is to prioritize those that are important to you and are part of the basic needs. Spend more time on them and spend more effort on them. The lesser priority ones can then come in second. You can use money for these or have some effort but these should be a lesser priority. Only do these when you have extra money or if you have extra time.

Your Main Priorities

So what are priorities? These may vary from person to person as people have different priorities, but essentially, these are: food, shelter, clothing, and yourself. What is the best way to fulfill these needs and lessen your worry? Each mentioned need and suggested ways are discussed below.


Obviously, you can’t go without food. You need food to live. It gives you energy to do something with your life. In the spirit of focusing on what’s important, food is only needed by your body three times a day. That is, the ideal times that you should eat are three times a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you go more than that, it’s no longer a priority. It’s not important. If you feed yourself well enough at those three important meals, you won’t go hungry in between and you won’t need to grab a snack here and there.How to be Happier: Focusing on what’s Important

This means then, that you should eat a complete and powerful meal every time. Aside from being complete, it should be healthy so that the energy and nutrition that you need will be met. The kind of food that you eat may depend on your diet, whether it’s paleo, vegan, low-carb, vegetarian and several others. So I won’t give you any suggestions on what to eat. I suggest though, that you consult a nutritionist or search online for recommended recipes and meals that coincide with your choice of diet. If you have made your choice, make it a point to always have them every time so that you will be well fed and you won’t need to eat snacks in between. Doing so will also lessen your expenses on food. Speaking of expenses, if there is a way to reduce your expenses on food and still get optimum nutrition and energy, try doing that. Take note, if you spend less on food and get the most quality out of it, you’ll worry less.

Shelter and Clothing

For shelter, these are everything that you use your money on to sustain a roof over your head. This means your rent, mortgage, or the house loan you got from the bank. This also includes your electric bills. Perhaps, making this a priority is common sense and you don’t need to be reminded to ensure that you pay your bills first before you use money on other things. Hence, make sure you have enough money to pay all your bills before you spend on something else other than a need.How to be Happier: Focusing on what’s Important

As for clothing, this only proves to be a problem for people who love to shop. I guess what you really want to instill in your mind is that if you still have clothes to use all year round, you don’t need to buy anything else. You don’t need a new set of clothes every week or every month. The most you can buy is a new set at least once a year. This new set should also be one that you’ll use often. Don’t buy a new dress just because it’s the latest trend. If you’re not going to use it and it’s just going to gather dust in your closet, keep your money off it.


This is a need that not all people focus on. Some focus on this too much and others just forget to have time for themselves. The things that fall under this need are your happiness, your dreams, your emotions, your stability, your fulfillment, anything related to you personally. You have to ensure that you spend some time for yourself. So, make it a point to check up on how you’re doing. Talk to yourself and see how things are. Are you happy? Is life fulfilling for you? How was your day? Did you experience anything bad? What do you feel right now? These are just some of the questions that you should answer when doing a check-up. You can do this at the end of your day just before you go to sleep. Always find time to reflect so that you can find a solution if you might have some problems or you feel bad. If you are more aware about yourself and your personal needs, and you attend to them, you will become happier.

How to be Happier: Focusing on what’s Important

You probably noticed that most of the needs mentioned here dealt with money and most of the advice is on cutting cost and only spending on what’s important. Well, money is one of our top worries and that is the best way to go in order to lessen your worries on that. If you have these fulfilled first, you’ll find that you’ll be happier and have time to think of other things. You also saw that for the last section, we talked about yourself. This is also one of your priorities aside from fulfilling your basic needs. You should always find time to connect with yourself and fulfill your personal needs which can be as simple as relaxing. So, take this information with you and start living a happier life.

If you want a more detailed advice on living a happier life, get your copy of Design Your Life now and start living a life designed by no one else, but you.


Personal Development Junkie. Expert on Goal Setting, Time, Project, and Life Management. Master Strategist and Planner. Passionate Entrepreneur.

Author of Design Your Life: 5 Steps To Create The Life You Want, a complete guide to making a positive change in your life, and living a life by design. Now available on the Kindle Store

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