UNDERSTANDING WHY WE ARE HERE
Goodness Is the Reason
We know we’re here…but do we know why? That may sound like a silly question as most of us just accept that “we are here” without giving any serious thought as to the reason why. This is a short lesson intended to stimulate your thinking about this very important question.
The purpose of life is to contribute in some way
to making things better.
Robert F. Kennedy
Sometimes We Focus on the Wrong Things
We’ve all wished we could be someone else—someone we think of as talented or heroic or brilliant or wealthy. Maybe as we watch the awarding of the medals at the Olympics, we find ourselves wishing for “some of that glory” as well. Maybe as we watch the hit movie, we wish we were the attractive person there on the big screen. Or maybe it’s the person with two million YouTube followers that we watch and view with great envy. We’ve all experienced feelings like these—wishing we were somebody we’re not—at one time or another.
For some reason, we have a tendency to think we need to achieve a certain level of “fame and fortune” to be important to those around us. As a result, we frequently focus on ourselves including the things we have, how we are dressed, and what we have to do to be “approved” by those around us.
Many of us fail to understand that living a meaningful and effective life is not really about us. It’s almost entirely about how we use our life to help others…how we make other people’s lives better even in small ways. In other words, we need a clearer understanding of why we are here. Marcus Tullius Cicero, the Roman statesman and lawyer, gave us an important insight into the answer when he summarized it this way:
Non nobis solum nati sumus.
(Not for ourselves alone are we born.)
Adjusting Our Focus
It’s true that we can feel hindered by personal challenges and worries that seem to slow us down in life at times. Lack of money, insufficient education, possible health problems, family obligations, or some really poor choice we made can be reasons we haven’t accomplished as much in life as we would like. But maybe success in life isn’t limited by any of these things. Maybe there’s another factor that really determines whether our life is a productive, special, and successful one.
Here is one fundamental understanding that can enhance our lives significantly: our life was not given to us just for our personal enjoyment. You are not here to live just for yourself, but also to use your life to help others. You are not here to get more, but to give more. Coming to this basic realization can be a life changer. When you make the choice to adjust the focus of your life from exclusively helping yourself to also helping others, you change your perspective in a very significant way.
You may think I’m splitting hairs here, but it’s not simply our day-to-day activities alone that are important. What’s important is how we use these activities to help others in some way. For example, it’s not that important that you are a
banker; what’s important is that you are a banker working to help others have a better life. And it’s not that important that you are a law-abiding neighbor; what’s important is that you reach out to help your neighbor in need in some special way. It’s not just what you do, but what you do to help others that is important.
You Can Make People Feel Special
In your own unique way, you can make other people feel special, feel cared for, and feel they are important. It’s a caring that comes from your heart as you reach out to improve the lives of others. It is the act of giving ourselves to others that, in effect, makes us whole. Ralph Waldo Emerson gave us this perspective about approaching life this way:
It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life
that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.
One of life’s most important insights is that we’re not here for ourselves but rather to help others have better lives even in small ways. In working to do so, we not only improve someone else’s life, but we improve our lives as well. Just try it. Reach out and help someone in a special and sincere way. Not only will your actions make them feel better and let them know that someone cares about them, but you will feel something special in your life as well.
Interestingly, life works just the opposite from the way we typically think. It’s not really about helping ourselves that makes us successful. It’s all about using our life to help the other guy.
As two of her neighborhood friends sat in the pew waiting for Mary Wilson’s funeral to begin, one of them turned to the other and said, “You know, Mary helped me so many times over the years. She was so special. She made me feel that someone in this world really cared about me.”
May more of us come to understand the importance of using our lives not just to help ourselves, but to help others as well. After all, that’s why we’re here.
Love and kindness are never wasted.
They always make a difference.
They bless the one who receives them,
and they bless you, the giver.
By Michael L. Nelson and Chris Peppel
© Copyright 2020 Living with Goodness, Inc
All Rights Reserved