What truly matters…
It is common to hear about “pushing outside of your comfort zone,” and how much growth it results in. Very few, if any, of us would disagree with this statement as we have stepped out of comfort zones at some point in our lives in which we realized that our fears can most definitely be overcome. But, most of us do not enjoy staying uncomfortable for an extended period of time because well… it’s uncomfortable. And we humans love our coziness. There is no problem with being comfortable; it allows you to breathe, think, & reflect on what has passed.
My personal last twelve months have unpredictable and uncomfortable more than I can imagine. A quick summary:
- Failing a startup that I still truly believe was after an unsolved problem
- Learning my own weaknesses and being humbled by that
- Joining an amazing team at a local startup that has had tremendous growth
- Moving to a city far away from everything familiar to me for 6 years
- Becoming an uncle for the first time
At times I felt on top of the world and it felt like things were swept out under me, yet at times I felt as if I had lost the ability to fight and yet I found a way back to happiness. But, recently after a long year of being outside of my comfort zone I realized I needed some time away to reflect.
All of these many different experiences in a short period of time blinded me from taking in the lessons I was getting each way.
Lesson #1: You are not the most important person in your life
Tonight I sat on the bed with my family and my new niece watching her play and laugh, and thought about how this was the only thing the mattered in the world to me. That moment made me realize that a major part of my life concern will now be about how happy this little one is for the rest of her life. It made me appreciate my parents because that is the one thing they have thought about for me for the past ~25 years, and it is not an easy concern to carry around. You will worry tirelessly about that person’s current well being, and the circumstances that can be changed to make their future easier for them.
Lesson #2: Gratefulness is happiness
Why are we unhappy? Because we have expectations of life and they are not met. I do not mean simply objective expectations like landing the perfect career or school, but subjectively as well: Expecting people to be there for you when you need them most. Don’t get me wrong, expectations are good! They mean you respect yourself to have high personal standards. But, don’t let them take you down.
Take a step back. Look at what you do have! Look at the wonderful people you have supporting you. Look at the relationships you have cultivated and memories you have shared with them. Look at all you have accomplished with your hard work so far. Accept the amazing things around you. Be grateful for the little things, it honestly brings a massive positive uplift to your life.
Lesson #3: We aren’t here forever. (And we shouldn’t live like it, see #4)
At one point or another everyone has this realization. It is morbid, but one that changes your outlook on your past, present, future. Life is short. We hear this enough, but something we really can’t understand for quite some time. It’s the reason why being in a state of unhappiness should be very temporary, if we can help it or not. It makes you cherish every single moment to the maximum, you stop living in years and “jobs.” You start living IN moments and not FOR moments!
I don’t want to stay on this topic long.
Lesson #4: If you can read this, then you are affluent.
If you can get off your butt right now and get a glass of water in less than one minute, then you are much better off than a massive portion of the population on this planet. It is something we take for granted every single day! There are 844M people who don’t have ANY access to clean water. There are women and children that spend 6 to 7 hours DAILY just to have drinkable water for their family. Think about the opportunities these women and children are denied simply because they do not have the basic necessities to live a simple life. We complain about our $5 Moe’s Burritos not being wrapped well enough, when there are families who live off less food across multiple days.
Over the last 100 years that lead to insane economic growth for the world, we made poor decisions in hindsight like not caring for the environment. Our actions have consequences and we need to think beyond our own existence.
Please donate time & money to charities. As a part of the fast-growing developed world, we are leaving behind and hurting a massive part of our species.
Lesson #5: All of the above
Combining the lessons from above, I discovered what my personal meaning to this world should be: making future lives better than those of the past, collectively. What do I mean? Being an uncle who is able to spend time with his niece to teach her the right lessons in life so she doesn’t make the same mistakes I did/will. Giving however much of a part of my time to make the world better for the well being of Earth (includes care for the developing world, climate change, mental health, etc.)
I leave with this cartoon that summarizes very simply.