Been a while since I’ve dabbled into TED Talks, but I’m back at it. At least for today.
This particular talk came from Rick Warren, a well-known pastor but still seems very down-to-earth and mellow which makes him very approachable, especially to someone who steers clear of any preachers who full-out preach in all of its yelling, loud glory.
Anyways, back to the talk. Don’t get caught off guard by having the message come from a pastor because it can truly be applied to everyone, regardless of your, if any, religion.
It’s so easy to get into that mindlessly numbing routine. Every day looks the same. You wake up, brush your teeth, go to work or class, come home, and go to sleep. A little more in the middle, of course, but in a basic premise, this isn’t much in day-to-day life that goes beyond simply existing.
That’s what it so often feels like. We’re just getting by, surviving. We find some successes and accomplishments along the way, but for the most part, we all deep-down would like to know that everything we’re doing right now is worth it. We want to know why we’re here on this earth. We want to somehow make this daily, insignificant task list into something more.
It’s always a good reminder, but you matter. I matter. Everyone matters. We’re not just wandering around for no reason. We each have a significant contribution to make. The problem is figuring out what that is. That’s when we start trying to make patterns and connections, sometimes out of nothing (think of how often people see the face of Jesus in every object out there).
We assume that God or the universe or whatever else will wave some magic wand and give an obvious signal of where to go in life, what to do. Sometimes we do hear those urges and whispers, but chances are, they come from within. We shouldn’t expect society to spoon-feed us the answers to existential questions. We have to rely upon introspection and prayer for that.
Or we’re thrust into situations we didn’t plan on, that go against what we see as our designated purpose and throw everything for a tail spin. Rick mentions writing a book that becomes a worldwide bestseller, provoking attention he never wanted. We go through struggles and challenges that seem to only bring about pain and suffering, unnecessary stress.
I see this a lot in myself. Knowing that I am not good at decision-making and can be scatter-brained in my ideas and interests, I’ve felt like I needed to force myself down the paths of purpose that seemed right for me. If they were right for so many others and look good on paper, why wouldn’t it fit my own situation? Well, until you actually start learning more and experiencing more of that path, then you realize it’s not for you. You feel like you just wasted precious time and resources for nothing, for failure. But there was a purpose for that, too. Not an immediate one, perhaps, or one you understand right off the bat, but it is.
The bottom line is, it’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s not about our individual selves envisioning our own separate ideas of our own success and happiness and our own accomplishments that top everyone else’s. Our egos and sense of competition get in the way of actually feeling fulfilled. We aren’t meant to be absolute rulers of our own kingdoms.
Life finds purpose from everyone else. Our interactions, our relationships, our place in society are what bring clarity. We are not leaders, but stewards simply guiding others and sometimes letting others have more control. Our lives and everything in it are temporary; we don’t have sole ownership. Establishing a worldview within ourselves that sees our position as humanity to be more than “just another species,” then we can take on appropriate responsibilities and actions that benefit yourself and everyone and everything around you.
Life is not about looking good, feeling good, and getting the goods, as consumerism and materialism tell us. Possessions do not determine your self-worth and happiness. Being good and doing good are what really matter. Giving your life to something beyond your own ego. The purpose of having influence, is to a voice speaking for those who fall quiet, that we might overlook, issues we might toss aside.
So here’s the most important question: What’s in your hand? What have you been given, and what are you going to do with that? For a lot of us, we might say things that determine our identity, occupation, and income. Talents, education, freedom, opportunities, ideas and more. And if you have influence from those things, that is a great power with an even greater responsibility.
We’re all made and are are in our own circumstances to fulfill our purposes. We have innate gifts and gifts we receive and our worldview will decide how to use those. I hope that with what is in your hand, you serve others. You use your experiences as tools for others to learn from. You expand your horizons beyond the single day of mindless activities and look deeper into what these little things, added up, can amount to for others.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie