I remember I was on my way to India two years ago, on a seventeen-hour flight, and I couldn’t find sleep, so I lifted my window shade. I expected to just see some white fog, since we were so high up in the sky, but instead, I saw a big blue vastness, stretching for miles, and white clouds floating inside, with light radiating from the sun somewhere in the distance. I have never felt so small than I did in that moment.
It’s moments like these that really make you think.
We all spend so much time thinking, stressing, obsessing about things like what we’re going to wear, or eat, or what people think about us. We make our little problems seem like the end of the world, and we are possessed by our limited ability to only care about ourselves.
And then sometimes, you do something like look out the window on an airplane and your whole perspective on life changes.
You realize how tiny you are, and how insignificant your problems are compared to the vastness of the world, and of the universe. You see the bigger picture. And in the bigger picture, each of us are just a grain of sand on a beach, a spec of dust in the air. We’re each just one in billions and trillions of organisms. Mathematically speaking, we are close to zero. Nothingness.
But my point isn’t to sound pessimistic and say that our lives are pointless. My point is, we need to realize that this is how the world is. We need to believe that our purpose on this earth is not merely to live a life worrying about trivial things that don’t matter in the summation of it all.
I don’t know about you, but I know that I don’t want to be on my deathbed and look back on my life and just see myself. I don’t want to just live for me. I want to see people whose lives I’ve changed, something I’ve created that will last long after I am gone, something that will live when I don’t anymore.
And to do all this, we each need to follow three rules in life:
- Educate yourself about others. There is so much wrong with the world, and if we can spend a large portion of our day thinking about our own tiny problems, imagine how much time we can spend focusing on the problems of our friends, of strangers, of countries, or even of the world. If we shifted gears and dedicated some of the time we spend on ourselves on others, maybe we can make a difference in someone’s life.
- Take risks. Someone once told me that in life, when you open one door, you often find another. But you won’t find the other door until you open the first. Opportunities don't magically fall into your lap; you need to help create them by sparking a reaction. All those crazy-rich CEOs in the world didn’t get where they are by taking the safe route. They weren’t afraid to put their whole lives into something they created, even knowing that it might not pay off in the end. The most important lesson I have learned is not to be afraid of failure. My professor once said, “Failure is fabulous. You will never get over your fear of failing until you fail. And once you fail, you can’t go anywhere but up.” He wished us all big, public failures early in life. And today, I wish the same for all of you.
- Live creatively. Write, paint, draw, cook, dance. Express yourself. Try new things. You never know what you may fall in love with. And who knows, maybe you’ll create a masterpiece that will live forever.
I’m not saying I do all these things, but I’ve been trying to make an active effort in my life to become someone that will change the world in some way. I probably won’t solve world conflicts, or be the next Picasso, but I know that I want my life to have a meaning, a purpose.
If we’re lucky enough, maybe we’ll find our passions early in life. Maybe we’ll find the message that’s going to be written on our tombstones before we get there. That way, all we need to do is work backwards.
Wishing you all lives filled with purpose. :)