Have you ever wondered why it is you are here in this world? What the point of your life is? I’m pleased to say I may have found an answer, and it’s one you’ll like! (It’s not 42, promise!) I was recently reading Randy Gage’s Risky is the New Safe
It talks about how drastically the world is changing, and that saying the conventional path is no longer the safest option. That “Good Job” your parents wanted you to get? It may not exist much longer. Software like Xero is reducing the amount of work for accountants, the job market for lawyers is massively over-saturated with equally qualified young people all applying for the same position, and there’s a handheld machine being developed that can diagnose quicker and more accurately than a GP. Sound scary? It is. But it’s also incredibly exciting, because now more than ever before, we each have the ability to make an incredible impact on the world.
Of course this raises two questions that plague many of us today:
1) How do we decide what we want to change in the world? There’s so much that needs doing, so many people that need helping, how do we choose a path in life?
2) Once decided, how the hell do we get started solving world hunger, curing cancer or whatever crazily ambitious life goal you’ve chosen? (You’ll be happy to know that you don’t need to decide that you’ll be the one to stop global warming — if raising a family is what gives your life meaning, then do that!)
The answer to both those questions as to how we can really change the world is simple: by being completely and utterly selfish. The pursuit of our own happiness is the best way for us to make a truly meaningful contribution to the world we live in.
“Your highest moral purpose must be your own success and happiness” — Randy Gage
Are you shocked? Confused? I was too. But when you think about it, it makes total sense. When you are wealthy and prosperous, you are in a much better position to really change lives. See Bill Gates and his crusade against malaria, Warren Buffet’s work with the Buffet Foundation, or Oprah’s TV show that helps thousands of people every year.
Think about it, how many times have you turned down people of charities that ask you for money? Imagine if you were so successful that you actually WANT to be cornered by those annoying salespeople because you know the organisation does good work and it makes you happy to support it. When you have taken care of your own success, it is much easier to help other people, because doing so makes you happy.
So it’s easy to take the mission to pursue your own happiness and interpret that as an excuse to pursue hedonism — ie. the things that make you happy short-term, but are ultimately meaningless in the long run. Don’t come to me after you got completely wasted on the weekend and tell me that “But, it made me happy!”
That’s not the kind of happiness we’re after here. Sure, you can sit at home and watch TV all day, take naps during the ads and stuff your face with junk food. One or two days/weeks of complete laziness and rest are great here and there, in fact, I love spending an entire day every once in a while with permission to do absolutely nothing. But do it for long enough, and you start to feel frustrated, bored, or just plain numb. I used to spend weeks in a state of complete apathy, and trust me, it’s not as fun as it sounds! TV, sleep and junk food do not lead to happiness, and especially not to success!
I don’t know about you, but I feel relieved knowing that all I need to do to make my life meaningful is to make myself as happy and successful as I can possibly be. It takes this immense pressure off my shoulders. Yes, it’s up to each of us to change the world in our way, but we get to do that by living freaking amazing lives!
This article was written by Annika Stahlberg (that’s a younger her in that photo). She writes about finding and living your dream life, You should totally check out her blog here. She’s also on Twitter @AnnikaStahlberg. (Yes, I totally just wrote about myself in the third person, it’s this awesome looking website that made me do it!)
Originally published at medium.com on October 15, 2013 by Annika Stahlberg.