Why You Are On This Earth
I haven’t been able to put a finger on it for the past six months. Why social media, the news, and nearly every form of media constantly and consistently blare out the shallow of life, especially after the year we have all experienced. I'm confused why so many buy into it. The object of our existence amplified by the important callings and causes of our lives are far more meaningful and magnificent.
The average number of hours people spend a day on social media platforms, video games, and watching television shows is close to three hours a day! And while I know this sounds like your grandma, let me say it anyway. "What great thing can come from it?" You aren’t smarter, wiser, more fulfilled, more empathetic, or more service-oriented. You have more important things to do.
What if you were to pick up the heaviest burden you could, put it on your shoulders, and carry it. Do something meaningful, something hard and worthwhile. Have a cause you care about and challenge yourself with it. Turn the chaos in your life into order. Accomplish something you are proud of, something that stretches you, a goal where you wonder if it is even possible to accomplish. Take on something and see what you are made of.
The first obstacle of whether or not you should even begin is a moot point. You have to do it because in the absence of a cause or calling, your circumstances will always prevail, and your circumstances shouldn't define you; your cause should.
I have conducted hundreds of in-depth interviews with individuals; I deeply understand why life often feels like "I just have to make it through the day, I have to survive." This survival game often comes from having to shoulder the intolerable, painful burdens of self-contempt, shame, and self-disgust. We agonize over choices, behaviors, and thoughts we aren’t proud of. It isn’t that we have tremendous amounts of self-confidence and competence; it is that we don’t value ourselves, our abilities, and our potential.
I have studied human potential, performance, and behavior in both the body and the brain for years. From both research and personal experience, I understand that we are all unique; your brain is different in detail from any other person that has ever lived on earth. This uniqueness, this individuality, this potential is unbelievably beautiful—because it tells us there is a reason you are here. You have a cause; you have something important to do that far outweighs fame, money, and prestige. Your cause is not only important to you; it is essential to someone else. Think about your life; you have had instances where someone has been there at the right moment and made a miraculous and meaningful difference for you.
In a past podcast, I talked about my daughter getting hit by a car while running; it just so happened that a nurse was walking on the other side of the road when the accident occurred. That nurse had a cause and fulfilled it. I think of my daughter from China; we were delayed nearly five years in getting her, yet she is the one who is precisely perfect for our family. I remember being up late at night and pacing, wondering if someone was taking care of her, if she was loved, and being fed. It was torture; it was the heaviest burden I could pick up and carry at the time, and it nearly broke my back. She has been a part of our family for almost 11 years, my back is much stronger, and my life is much richer because of her and that experience.
You have a vital role to play in this world and therefore are morally obligated to find and fulfill that cause. Others are counting on you. The best part of your story is that you can do it being a completely and deeply flawed person. As the great nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “He whose life has a why can bear almost any how.”
So, what should you do this week? First, take a moment to look at your life. Who are you? When you buy a house, you hire an inspector to tell you everything good and everything bad; the home’s minor flaws and cosmetic imperfections or serious structural issues. You pay that person for the information, and you need to know it because you can’t fix something you don’t know is broken. You need to do the same for yourself. Take a genuine and honest look at yourself, your life, and your decisions. What you discover may be difficult; you may realize that you are a fixer-upper, one that is going to need serious renovations. Choose one area to fix, set it in order and then move on. That is what life is all about. Putting your life in order doesn’t mean that you are financially secure, in perfect shape, have the best children, and always get a promotion. Life is flawed, life is hard, and life is full of losing. No one ever talks about that. It is putting one thing in order over time that creates a trajectory for you and your life. Make one tiny decision to create a better result. Aim small; at the end of the day, aim for your life to be a bit better than it was today. Then do the same thing tomorrow and the next day and the next, and all of a sudden, your trajectory is where you want it. Your life in a year or two years will be completely different.
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