From Passion to Contribution
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Harold Whitman
Entrepreneurs are often told to think about what the world needs and then look for ways to solve these problems.
Teenagers are often told to pursue careers aligned with their skills, those subjects that they are good at doing.
Most of us seek occupations with the aim of making some money with the purpose of being able to purchase stuff we think will make us come alive. Things that will make our lives somehow better.
And I wonder! Is this a correct approach to life? Are we just forcing ourselves into a life of confinement rather than a life of contribution?
We walk the familiar path our of the fear or shame of being our vulnerable and authentic self, but it is when we are as we are and wish to be that the paths in life take us towards more meaning, liberation and happiness.
For a long time, I tried with all effort to meet external needs in a selfish pursuit of trying to reach my own needs yet never knew indeed what my needs were. In many ways, I still do this.
Progress isn’t a result of the selfish pursuits of one’s needs. The journey may begin in such a manner, but actual growth only occurs when we escape the borders of self and what we then do is for the benefit and progress of others. There’s a catch.
On rare occasions when I did things that I loved, I felt alive. I began to seek ways to do more of what I enjoyed. I thought if it makes me feel good, both today and tomorrow, then it must be good. Worthy of pursuit. A selfish pursuit yet one that raises the spirit within.
I sought through experience more opportunities to find new passions. I incorporated them into my life as best I could and in the process become purposeful – doing more of what was essential in fulfiling my desires. I have created a lifestyle that makes me, more often than not, happy. And I believe when we reach this mild depth of happiness we are I ready and able than ever before to serve the world’s needs. The point where selfish pursuits transform in the desire to help others.
We are told on a flight to secure our oxygen mask first before we attend to others. This is a sound metaphor for life and perfect for what I am reflecting on here.
Survival is life’s primary purpose. It is life’s agenda. When we do not take care of ourselves, we are less able to take care of others. We are less able to contribute in a meaningful way.
One of the six fundamental life principles is “contribution.” When we contribute without attachment to any selfish needs or desires for gain, we have the potential to bring in increasing amounts of freedom, fulfilment, and happiness into our lives.
If we can meet the fundamental foundations of who we are. To seek to do more of what we love. If we can nourish our ‘Why,’ – our story, and let our vulnerability shine, we will be more able to express ourselves for who we are. We will be more able to serve in meaningful ways, moving beyond the selfish pursuit of one’s agenda to satisfying that of the collective. In the process, we will undoubtedly create deeper satisfaction, joy and peace than we’ve ever experienced before.
“All the world desires are for each of us to be as we wish to be.”
Further Reading and Resources