People sometimes imagine that you can choose to take care of yourself or you can choose to take care of the world. You can be selfish or you can selfless.
That is not true. Each of us have been blessed with personalities that come with particular wants and desires. Wanting and desiring is human. It is natural and good.
The trick is to use the energy of your want and desire to steer your life towards purpose. That’s what happened to me. I wanted to be an well-known author and I used that as a vehicle. I steered that vehicle in the direction of helping to draw attention to climate change and I ended up writing No Impact Man.
- Ask, what do my needs and desires tell me about what others need and desire? In fact, how can you even know what other people need if you have no needs–no selfishness? Compassion means “feeling with.” Use your desires to help you “feel with” and then you will know how to help others who suffer.
- Find a way to get what you want that helps others, too. Suppose you need to socialize more. If you want to be less lonely, can you help others be less lonely too? Maybe you should plan a gathering. And, by the way, research shows that the less lonely people are the more they help the world.
- Use your talents in service of your concerns. If you have been blessed with a talent then use that talent to bless something you care about. Use your talents mindfully. Can you work for a Benefit-Corporation? Can you work at or help an NGO?
You don’t have to change everything and squash yourself and your desires to start helping our terribly worrying world. You can be who you are and want what you want but use the energy of that wanting to help.
If you do, you will have transformed your “selfishness” into a gift that powers your purpose.
(photo via awonderfulblog.com)