Sometimes, when we finally get a taste of meaning and purpose, we pursue it without taking care of ourselves. But helping the world is not about denying yourself. How can you take care of the world if you are too tired or too hungry or too stressed or too depressed? If you can’t sustain yourself, you can’t sustain your purpose.
1. Taking Care of Your Insides
My own mission around making people aware of their capacity to improve their own lives and that of the world began, in many ways, as an extension of my meditation practice. A lot of the confidence I needed came from inklings of Truth (whatever the hell that is!) I’d experienced in my practice.
But earlier in this iteration of my work life, around the time No Impact Man first came out–when I was making time for TV appearances and press interviews and rallies and favors and guest appearances on blogs–I lost time for my meditation.
Anxiety arrived. And depression. I was running on fumes. I was draining the battery without charging it. The good news was that I soon got back to my regular practice. I felt better. Of course, I’m not saying you should necessarily meditate if that is not your thing, just that you need to find what suits you to take care of your insides.
2. Taking Care of Your Outsides
A few years ago, after so many TV interviews and radio interviews and international press appearances (and, by the way, repeatedly having to face accusers who said I was trying to get rich from the world’s problems), I looked at my bank balance and saw I had about $200 left—about $3,000 less than my monthly nut at the time.
I’d been working all my waking hours on what I believed in but wasn’t taking care of myself. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to change much (like, I began to ask to get paid when someone asked me to make a speech) but I did have to face my guilt and confront my monkish self-image.
There is a meme in our culture: You can be a monk or a merchant. Monks do good and merchants make money. If you make any money—if you find a way to take care of your outsides—you obviously aren’t an ascetic monk, and you’re not really doing good.
Imagine, though, if we create a new meme. What if we show each other how wonderfully well we’re managing as a result of taking our ideas for social change and social entrepreneurship and finding meaning and purpose and running with them?
What if we bragged about outperforming the bankers every so often?
But even if we don’t get the chance to do that, we should at least make good homes out of our lives. Without loving ourselves, the love for others will wither. By taking the burden of the world on our shoulders, we leave no room for the strength of others.
3. Finally: Remember to Have Fun!
After all, the world isn’t worth saving if there isn’t time for joking around. :)
(photo via pixgood.com)