#3. Create Meaning in Life
Everyone wants to change the world, but few accept that changing anything always starts with oneself.
People know everything about anything, and they want to fix it, yet they can’t fix their shit.
I used to be a big proponent of fixing everything besides myself, but luckily life showed me what was happening.
The message was ultra-clear:
If you want to change the world, change yourself.
Here is how you can shape your future in a way that helps the world and yourself.
1. Cultivate Self-Awareness
I’m a big fan of measuring impact. If I help one person, the impact is smaller than if I help two. Yet, many people focus on delivering help face-to-face. Time is a great offering, so I avoid giving it up easily. I know that when I’m healthy and calm, I can help more than if I’m miserable and angry. People feel my state. When I offer my time, I make sure it’s an efficient use of it.
To increase the impact I make, I help myself first.
And to support yourself, you need to know who you are. You need to know what you want and at least try to find out why.
Notice your thoughts and feelings. Whenever you act in reaction to an event, that’s a lesson. It’s the only thing that tells you who you are. Watch closely and take notes. With time, you’ll deepen your understanding of your values and desires.
Based on the knowledge you gather, you can start making directed improvements. Instead of looking outward to fix the world, focus on what happens inside of you. What are your biggest problems? But really, what bothers you about yourself?
Stop looking for excuses and start looking for ways to improve. Challenge the status quo. Are you the person you want to be? Do you live by the values you’d like others to have? For a moment, accept that if you have a problem, it’s your problem. Try to fix it. Share with others how you approached it and what result you got.
By sharing, you’ll change the world.
2. See the World for What It Is
The world we live in is a social world. No matter what you prefer, if you can’t get along with people, you won’t be able to improve it. The world is made up of people, so making it better means making people’s lives better.
The simplest way is to stop burdening them with your issues. Don’t lecture them about the environment because you heard a story. Don’t tell others what to wear because you feel offended. Do the opposite. Listen. Open yourself up. Try to see reality through their eyes. Get out of your perspective. You’re not alone, and you’re mostly wrong about the world. People aren’t like you.
Stop acting like an enemy of humanity. Whether you want it or not, you’re human too. If you feel resentment towards yourself or towards others, you mistakenly assume you’re working to improve the state of things. You may think forcing your ideas on people is for the greater good. It’s not. Focus on what’s within your control. Build your life to serve as an example for others to follow.
3. Create Meaning in Life
A sense of purpose is what we lack the most. When you lack meaning, you seek instant pleasure. Along the way, you kill your dreams. Manifesting your thoughts requires effort. So why would you put effort into something if you can have a drink, play a game, and watch Netflix?
It makes sense to be hardwired for immediate pleasure. There might be no tomorrow. But what if there is a tomorrow? You must take it into account. Here is an exciting idea on how to enjoy the moment and plan for the future: Treat your future self as your friend.
Would you toss everything you have to do onto your friend? If it’s your friend, you’d want to help. Help yourself by doing the work now. Enable your future self to rest. Create a society built on the collaboration of your past and future selves.
While you work to improve your future, focus on what you find important. Let go of what people want you to want. Decide what you want to die for. And then start dying for it. Transform the process of death into a cycle of creation.
4. Distance Yourself from Feelings
Feelings and emotions are not for whining about.
Here’s a general rule for life: resistance is futile if something is already here.
Since we only experience time in one direction—forward—there is no point in resisting what has already happened. That also applies to things that will inevitably happen, like your eventual death.
The problem with feelings is that they influence our decisions without us knowing. They can stop you from doing what you should be doing, and you’d find a reasonable enough explanation to calm your brain. Feelings are not tuned to deliver long-term success. Their job is to react to the environment before you can think. But that reaction is often wrong.
Feelings do a great job of informing you about physical danger, but your instincts about our complex social world are not yet up to date. Nature gave us another tool, the brain, to control them. Use it.
Watch your feelings. See what they’re telling you. Analyze them. Then take action, even if you feel fear.
5. Decide What You Want
One of the biggest problems we have is overconsumption. This applies not only to food but also to clothes and electronics. People buy new phones because they represent higher status. Cars, houses—everything to show off. Even poor people buy iPhones in installments.
The result is having too many things to care about. We’re buried with items we don’t need. You buy a phone you couldn’t wait to have, and three weeks later, you get used to it. To visit another popular travel spot, we give up on learning. And when we’re finally there, looking at the beauty of nature, we view it through our phones. That’s not freedom, and that’s not even life.
Many people have no savings, but they have new phones and laptops. That’s the opposite of happiness. We’ve become slaves to what we have. That’s how our brains work. Our things become us.
Combat this mindless run toward more things by deciding what you want. Align everything you do, buy, read, and watch with your goals. Your goals should lead you to your dreams. Decide what you want. Filter out the noise. Get clarity.
If you ever hope to change the world, start with yourself. Show others how you care about self-improvement. Work to fix your problems. Become an authority in solving them. Along the way, present your findings.
You gain experience on a small scale first, without forcing everyone to suffer from your mistakes. Do the opposite of what your government does because you see the outcomes of their actions. You want it to be different.
To change the world focus on yourself. If you succeed, people will follow.
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