The Key to Happiness is a Smaller Perspective on the World

Part of my evolution in this past year has been an increasing understanding of the power of consolidating of my inner self as a path to a better life.

Today, people more than ever obsess on circumstances over themselves and others. Whether through politics, policing or general busybodiness, people want to “save the world.”

But which world are we saving?

SAVING THE WORLD

We all use the mantra “change the world” as if we all shared the same idea of “world.”

  • Some want to change the literal world, such as environmentalists who believe we are killing the planet.
  • Some want to change the economic world, believing it is a ship a chosen few can helm for the benefit of all.
  • Some want to change the political world so all people might share global resources fairly across national borders so all might equally thrive.
  • Some want to force others how to think so the world can be “holy” or “moral” by their religious or anti-religious standards.

“Saving the world” actually means different things to different people; we can’t depend on a singular definition of world, then.

Who, then, defines these worlds and in what direction are we saving people?

Again, we return to the definition of the word. Uber-conservatives might try saving pot smokers from themselves. Uber-progressives might try saving off-the-gridders from themselves. From each point of view, they’re “right,” but both are completely opposite each other.

So, we can’t depend on the word “saving” either.

OUR WORLD IS SUBJECTIVE

When I was a young man, I wanted to save the world. I thought about diverting a comet or fighting off aliens. Perhaps I could bring world peace or prevent a civilization-ending war.

As an adult, I realize the world is big; I am not. We’ve told children they can change the world, but have we given them a false idea of what the world is and is not?

In science, the theory of “heroic invention” details how man through plotted striving improves the world. I’m disinclined to believe in heroic invention — not because there isn’t evidence for individuals inventing things that change the technological course of civilizations, but because there are times throughout history where unconnected people invent the same things at the same time. Known as “multiple discovery,” its outcomes have produced the likes of the discovery of oxygen, calculus and yes, even the theory of evolution. Some even believe multiple discovery is inherent to science.

We’re enamored with lone brilliance and have fallen for the idea that a few can know better than the many in perpetuity. In one’s own life or work, this is possible. However, when you attempt to take your limited knowledge of your own life and attempt to apply it across the masses, the density of your awareness-to-situation becomes grotesquely thin.

A RICH LIFE VS. A BIG LIFE

Imagine you’re making hot chocolate. You take one of those tiny single-serve packets, rip open the top and pour it into a cup, followed by a steaming hot bath of boiling water. Now you have some nice, rich hot chocolate, right?

But what if you put that same single-serve into a pitcher? Would you get full, rich flavor? Or might it look and taste like dirty water?

We waste a great deal of time in our days trying to spread ourselves out. Hey, let’s have all these hours at work, followed by all these hobbies, followed by our kids’ hobbies (dominated is more like it), then maybe some extra group activities … All that attempt at life is like just letting the faucet run, and it won’t be a cup, or even a pitcher, but a keg by the time you’re done. You want MORE MORE MORE.

Then try to put that single-serve packet into your keg and tell me how rich and flavorful it tastes.

Instead, focus on your cup. Pour all that richness from that single-serve packet (hey, that’s your life, and you only get YOU) into just a cup and make the most of that cup.

Now apply that to changing the world.

The world is not merely a pitcher, but a swimming pool. All most people can ever do is put a single-serve packet into it. Is it that the world is too big to change? Or is it, perhaps, that you think the pool is YOUR world, when in reality YOUR world is the cup you can hold in your hands?

PERSPECTIVE

As all things, real change and real happiness come first from the changing of but one quality over which you have the most control — your perspective.

If you judged success by how you compared to others, you’d always find someone else who has done what you love better and/or bigger than you. But why should their success dictate whether or not you have success, too? If that were true, only one person in the world would ever truly be successful, because someone would be at the top and someone else would ultimately be at the bottom.

Instead, draw in the range of your measurement. Close the scope within arm’s reach — have you reached YOUR goals? Don’t worry about others’ goals or ambitions, yours are the only ones that ever really impact you, so why worry what others do?

When we are young, we see “the world” in its entirety and think that such entirety is OUR entirety. As we get older, get married and have children, our perspective changes. Our world shrinks, and soon what makes us happy might barely extend beyond the walls of our own homes.

Must you wait for time to change your perspective, or might you start that journey today? Contentment isn’t about getting what you want, but wanting what you already have. Draw that scope inward and look to your family, friends and neighbors. Offer them help, show them love, invest in their lives and you will find greater return in those small cups than ever you might in the great swimming pool of humanity.

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