Although we all share common genetic patterns, like snowflakes, we are all unique. The combination of genes and inherited beliefs, our environments, education, culture, and family background give each of us an individual perspective on the world. This is essential because in our complex, technical, global society everyone’s skills, talents, and energy are needed to contribute to healing the damaged environment and creating a more loving and harmonious world.
Humans are fundamentally designed as social beings to interact with others. This includes an inherent need to find a sense of our place in the world at large. We seek to be accepted into our family, village, and community. But at some point in our life, we also want to believe that we contribute to the greater good. So, what can we do personally to find our sense of self and where we fit in the greater scheme?
- Self-Awareness: As an infant we don’t distinguish between me and you (mother, father, brother, sister). In normal development, identity forms and the separation into I and you occur naturally. As we grow, we are influenced primarily by family beliefs infused by our parents or first caregivers, then the cultural beliefs influence us through educations, religion, peers, and media.
As an adult there comes a time when we form our own opinions of ideas, people, society, religion, and a personal identity. Self-awareness requires that we separate concepts received from others and adopt or adapt our own ideas based upon internal values, ethics, and multiple sources of information.
Then, as we learn, work, and gain experience, we become aware of our own gifts, skills, talents, interests, strengths, and weaknesses. Perhaps, the information we were heard as a child is no longer relevant as an adult as we become more accomplished. Van Gogh once said, “If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.
The desires that fill us with joy, confidence, fulfillment, and satisfaction are the skills that fit the needs of the world. That drive and desire to satisfy ourselves and give value to the community is our unconscious awareness of where we fit in the greater picture of the world. Our energy is expanded when we work with joy and happiness. Those around us feel the positive effects and react positively. Happiness and satisfaction ripple outward.
- Contribution: We live socially with other humans and have a need for approval, respect, and acceptance by others. We need to feel that our actions and life contribute to the benefit of those around us.
Most of us don’t feel called to ‘save the world,’ merely to add our piece of the puzzle of the world around us. Small changes can have great impacts on individuals or groups. As the Dalai Lama said, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” Take Candy Lightner the mother who started MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) who single-handedly began an organization that changed the way the world viewed driving under the influence of alcohol.
Simply volunteering at your local school, animal shelter, elder residence, or hospital may influence a single person’s life for the better, including yours. Eliciting a smile, giving a helping hand, or contributing to a cause may change a life. Creating something beautiful, useful, or helpful is significant in any endeavor.
Making a difference in a life, a place, or a business is important to our sense of satisfaction in life. Simply sharing positive energy in the workplace is a contribution to a better life. Earning a living to support yourself, your family, and add to the improvement of life has a positive impact on many.
- Achievement: We all want to know that what we do is important to someone, somewhere, somehow. That our life matters. No one want to move through life without feeling that they had an impact. We want to solve a problem, be helpful, contribute to the overall growth and positive momentum of our world. A feeling of purpose and pride, develops a sense self-esteem, self-worth, and self-respect. We gain confidence that we are a necessary part of the greater whole.
Even if we are not as brilliant as Einstein, as talented as Rembrandt, as famous as Lady Gaga, we all add to the comfort, support, beauty, and bounty of everyday life. As we noticed this last year, the people who make toilet paper are heroes! The ones who deliver grow, produce, and deliver food to the stores are so essential to our lives. We took for granted so many people who made living easy until it was disrupted. Now, we can honor and respect the daily work supporting us by many we overlooked.
Achievements can be large or small. When we accomplish daily task and duties that fulfill our needs and the needs of others, we feel satisfied. We know we made a difference. Simply being, listening, and loving is critical to our nurturing nature. Having someone in our lives to hear us and be with us in our times of need, is one of the greatest gifts you can give or receive.
You are unique. Your beingness is essential to the energy that creates the essence of the life of the planet today. What and how you think create the reality that surrounds you. As we become aware of our interaction with others, we discover our individuality and how it benefits others. You are a gift to the world.